There is a gastric surgery ad running locally that irks me. It’s a 30-second spot available for your downloading pleasure here (wmv file) because, damn it, I have a video capture device and I’m not afraid to use it! The woman in the ad talks about how things have changed since she lost weight. She’s started a new life, she’s happy now, unicorns follow her to work, blah, blah, blah the first 20 seconds are fine. Then at the end she throws in this line:
“I have met someone now, so I am in a really great relationship.”
Essentially, the ad is implying that if you get gastric surgery you can find true love. Wow, is that all it takes?
I’m not naive. I have no doubt that losing 200 pounds will seriously improve your dating prospects. But that’s all. It does not guarantee you love or happiness. There are plenty of beautiful, thin people who are miserable and never find lasting love. (See, celebrity marriages) I also resent the implication that fat people are unloveable. The fact that this ad is playing on a person’s innate need to be loved to convince them to consider having surgery is manipulative and questionably ethical.
I’m also not comfortable with how often I see gastric surgery advertised these days. The ads make it seem as routine as going in for a dental cleaning, but any procedure that involves knocking you unconscious and rerouting your intestines qualifies as “pretty serious” in my book.
The crux of my irritation is that they aren’t so much selling the surgery as they are selling you the wonderful new life you will supposedly have after the surgery. Losing weight has many positive benefits and can open up opportunities for you to be happier in life, but it’s no guarantee. Happiness does not come via scapel. It comes from inside, not from altering your insides.
There are two hospitals in my city who do gastric surgery and I have to wonder how actively they compete against each other. The more surgeries a surgeon and hospital do, the more respected they become and the more likely they are to get patients. I hope they do not let their desire to excel in this field overshadow their ability to decide what is really best for a patient.
When I had my gall bladder removed (two years ago on the 20th), my surgeon told me I needed to lose weight or I was looking at a significantly reduced life span. He mentioned gastric surgery, but he also mentioned the hospital’s weight loss center which counsels people on nutrition, exercise and dieting. While I’m sure he would have liked to have gotten another surgery under his belt, he didn’t push that option more than any of the others. I hope this well-balanced approach is the norm at both hospitals in my city, but the more I see of these ads the more I have to wonder.
(* In computer programming != means ‘not equal to.” Sorry to geek out on you there.)