1-800-GET-THIN Responds With The Facts On Lap-Band Safety

Sep 26, 2011, 12:57 ET from 1-800-GET-THIN

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- On September 23, 2011, the Los Angeles Times produced another article concerning the Lap-Band and 1 800 GET THIN.  These stories portray an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Lap-Band procedure and 1 800 GET THIN.

We at 1-800-GET-THIN would like to extend our sincerest thoughts and prayers to the friends and family of Paula Rojeski.  We have personally expressed our condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Rojeski.

1 800 GET THIN associates with dedicated and caring professionals that provide their services to individuals suffering from obesity and associated diseases resulting from obesity.  Our goal, as well as the goal of the centers and professionals we work with, is to attain a healthier and happier life for these individuals.  

Every month, there are hundreds of positive success stories from individuals who have received the Lap-Band after first calling 1 800 GET THIN.  1 800 GET THIN has assisted THOUSANDS of individuals to regain their health and livelihood by working with facilities and doctors who specialize in the surgical treatment of weight loss.  

Our highest priority remains the same: to work with facilities and physicians that provide the highest level of care to the community.  Patient safety has been and will always be our primary concern. 

Please consider the following as clarifications to the Los Angeles Times article as well as other misconceptions:

  1. 1 800 GET THIN is a marketing company.  1 800 GET THIN did not refer Ms. Rojeski for surgery.  1 800 GET THIN does not practice medicine or provide medical care.
  2. 1 800 GET THIN works with highly rated and accredited facilities.  The facilities that work with 1 800 GET THIN are required to adhere to a strict surgical and pre-operative regimen and incorporate safety protocols that are among the most thorough in the community.  Before any patient is allowed to have weight loss surgery, the patient will undergo a battery of diagnostic examinations designed specifically for their safety.  At the conclusion of all tests, only approximately 3% of the individuals that inquired about the Lap-Band are actually approved and cleared for this procedure.  It has been confirmed that Ms. Rojeski was appropriately cleared for surgery by multiple independent physicians.
  3. All surgical procedures, no matter how minor, have risks. Every facility and physician working with 1 800 GET THIN is required to inform any potential patient of the risks and will also provide a written disclosure.
  4. 1 800 GET THIN is actively involved in programs to prevent obesity in our community by promoting healthy eating and exercise habits in both adults and children.
  5. An initial investigation into Ms. Rojeski's case has indicated that the surgeon had extensive experience in Lap-Band procedures, all without any prior mortality and the anesthesiologist who treated the patient is Board Certified with over 20-years of experience.  
  6. 1 800 GET THIN has been informed by the surgery center that all surgical protocols were followed and that there were no deficiencies in the systems and processes of the surgery center.  The cause of death remains undetermined at this time.
  7. 1 800 GET THIN has repeatedly tried to convey the truth to the LA Times, only to be ignored.  The facilities that work with 1 800 GET THIN help more people through the surgical intervention of weight loss than any other program of its kind in California.  These facilities continue to be the leader in this field of medicine and provide an excellent level of care.  Lap-Band surgery remains the safest weight loss procedure available. Alternatives to the Lap-Band procedure, such as gastric stapling or bypass, are more invasive and have up to five times higher risk of significant complications including death.
  8. Julian Omidi does not practice medicine and never met Ms. Rojeski.  Julian Omidi is a recipient of a Certificate of Appreciation from United States Congress and the Congress awarded him the Flag of the United States for humanitarian work, as well as many other civic and charitable honors.
  9. Dr. Michael Omidi is a double Board Certified general and plastic/reconstructive surgeon.  He does not practice weight loss surgery.  He was not in any way involved in the care or treatment of the patient.  He never met or treated the patient.  Dr. Michael Omidi is also the recipient of a Certificate of Appreciation from United States Congress and the Congress awarded him the Flag of the United States for humanitarian work.  He has served as a volunteer in missions to underserved parts of the world to treat impoverished children with burns and birth deformities.

Obesity kills hundreds of thousands of Americans yearly and is the second cause of preventable death in the United States.  Many scientific studies have shown that the majority of obese patients are not able to lose weight and keep it off with diet and exercise alone. For those patients, the Lap-Band procedure remains a very good option.  

The Lap-Band procedure is a FDA approved surgical procedure performed with the use of general anesthesia where a band is placed around the upper part of the stomach.  It is designed to make the patient feel satisfied more quickly when eating thereby reducing food intake and leading to weight loss. Hundreds of thousands of obese patients have successfully lost weight and kept it off long-term with the Lap-Band.  

The FDA has determined the Lap-Band procedure outweighs the risks for certain obese patients as obesity is a disease that ravages the human body and is associated with premature death and multiple serious medical problems.  Studies have shown increased life span after weight loss surgery.  It is solely a patient's decision to proceed with surgery having weighed these risks and benefits after full informed consent and discussion with their respective doctors.  

There is a greater concern that the LA Times is also unfairly targeting a procedure that is presently saving and improving hundreds of thousands of lives.  The Lap-Band procedure is often the last hope for many patients suffering from significant disease that have been unable to lose weight with diet and exercise.  

The Lap-Band procedure has an extensive proven history of safety, saving and improving hundreds of thousands of lives.  We are concerned that many patients for whom the Lap-Band is their last hope will be dissuaded from pursuing this life changing and life saving procedure due to this negative campaign led by the LA Times.  It is unconscionable to place in a false light an FDA approved procedure, the Lap-Band, along with dedicated professionals who are committed to improving and saving patient's lives.

1 800 GET THIN requests the aid of the community at large, medical societies, patient advocates, and all journalists to intervene and condemn the LA Times' article.

1-800-GET-THIN has helped thousands of people to take the first steps to a new, healthier life. For information on weight loss, lifestyle changes and the Lap-Band, call 1-800-GET-THIN or visit www.1800getthin.com. All individuals should consult their physician prior to any weight loss program. Studies indicate that individuals can achieve 30-50% excess weight loss at 3 years.