By then, there had been other strange things happening to her, including clumps of hair falling out in the shower (hair loss is not a direct side effect of phen, but can result from nutrient deficiency) and a hip that had become weirdly numb. The symptoms were so pronounced that for months she'd been joking with a close friend that her diet pills would kill her.
Counter to popular impressions that most people treated surgically regain most or all the weight they lose initially, the latest long-term research has shown otherwise. In a decade-long follow-up of 1,787 veterans who underwent gastric bypass, a mere 3.4 percent returned to within 5 percent of their initial weight 10 years later. This finding is especially meaningful because the researchers at the V.A. center in Durham were able to keep track of 82 percent of gastric bypass patients, a task too challenging for most clinics.
Back in the early '90s, doctors thought they had struck gold with a combination of drugs, fenfluramine and phentermine, or fen-phen, that seemed to magically melt fat away. But within a couple of years some patients began to develop very scary side effects: damage to heart valves that could lead to heart failure and a kind of high blood pressure, pulmonary hypertension, that proved to be fatal in some cases.