Posted - June 15, 2010

Addiction Transference

Anyone who is considering lap band surgery to lose weight should always be informed of both the benefits and the risks involved. One such risk that has become recently discovered is addiction transference, when a patient develops some form of addiction after undergoing lap band or another bariatric surgery procedure.

In the last few years, studies have shown that it’s very likely that the same neural pathway that’s responsible for alcohol and cocaine dependency is also responsible for many obesity problems. As a result, with a small percentage of bariatric surgery patients, their addiction to food acted as a preventive measure for other addictions like gambling, shopping, alcohol, or even drugs, and these addictive behaviors started months or years after the surgery had been performed.

While the percentage of patients who experience addiction transfer after lap band surgery is still unknown, current studies put the range between 5 and 20% for bariatric surgery patients. More research is needed to identify the degree of prevalence, and it’s important not to associate lap band and other bariatric surgeries as a cause of these addictive behaviors. The compulsive and addictive behavior may already exist, typically presenting as an abnormal level of dopamine in the brain, and the surgery has only shed light on this issue.

Scientists have suggested that using neuroimaging prior to the bariatric surgery to indicate the level of risk of addiction transference could identify those few patients who may need counseling, therapy, or medication after they’ve undergone their procedures.

If you’re considering lap band surgery, speak with your weight loss surgeon about all of the risks and benefits so that you can make a carefully weighed and considered decision, with the proper assistance, counseling, and help that you’ll need before and after the procedure.

ATTENTION patients of Dr. Al-Kalla

Dr. Al-Kalla will be leaving Weight Loss Specialists of North Texas at the end of July. If you would like continue as his patient, please let us know and we can assist in getting your medical records transferred.

You may also choose to stay with Weight Loss Specialists of North Texas and we’ll gladly transfer your care to another provider on staff.

Thank you.