Weight Loss Surgery - A sceptic asking for answers




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Amber1011
01-09-2010, 02:28 AM
Okay, I'm coming to get advice from you girls and I'm going to be completely honest about things and TRY not to offend anyone.

I have always viewed WLS as the easy way out for most people. I understand the more extreme cases, but for people around "my size" I never understood it.

I have been fat my entire life. There is no other way of putting it. In the past few years I have really been struggling. Losing weight, gaining weight, and on and on. I'm about 260 lbs 5'0" tall. I have actively tried to lose weight by dieting and exercise, but like I said- it comes right back (and I get about 30lbs off and then nothing).

Okay, so about a year and a half ago my future mother in law got gastric bypass surgery done. She was like 2 sizes bigger than me. She never actually tried to diet and never got out of her recliner. She got the surgery because she didn't want to do the work. After the surgery, she pretty much ignored the food recommendations and vomited regularly. A year and a half out - she still throws up daily. Pretty much the entire family (including me) bashes the surgery daily about how horrible it is, and I have been vocal about how it was a stupid decision, and she will have to pay for it for the rest of her life.

So now- I have tried just about everything and I don't know what to do. I am almost to the point where I think that WLS might be my only option, but I know if I do it everyone around me will think I'm an idiot. Yet, I don't think I shouldn't consider it just because I want to "save face"

In general, My question is: Is losing all the weight worth all the long term side effects (even if it is just extreme food restriction)?
What type of surgery did you have, and how did it work for you?
and any other info/comments you have for me.

Let me have it girls!


jiffypop
01-09-2010, 10:38 AM
OK Amber- you asked for it!!!!! You've seen first-hand the problems that people who don't do the work face post-op. This shows that WLS is NOT the easy way out. and that, at least in your MIL's case, it's probably not the SURGERY that's the problem, but the PERSON.

second, what you're describing with your weight loss issues is EXACTLY a sign that WLS might be considered [notice i didn't say it was a GOOD IDEA - that's an individual decision that YOU'LL have to make, based on many, many factors].

third, the fact that you're a vegetarian needs to be addressed. after just about ALL the surgeries, protein is the focus - like at least 60 grams a day - and it has to be packed into small servings. it's not easy for a vegetarian to do this. it's not IMPOSSIBLE, but it takes attention and focus.

Fourth, the gastric bypass isn't the only way to go - you might prefer the restriction of a lapband only, or a DS. but no matter which you choose, the success/failure of it is UP TO YOU. It's easy to blame the surgery for failure, but the real key is stepping up and taking the responsibility for changing your habits and working towards making it successful for YOU.

WLS does NOT give us a free pass out of gym class or proper nutrition. it gives us a chance to hit the RESET button and re-learn how to eat and how to exercise, and how to be healthy. we can take the opportunity, or we can play the blame game.

*stefani*
01-09-2010, 11:30 AM
After the surgery, she pretty much ignored the food recommendations and vomited regularly. A year and a half out - she still throws up daily. Pretty much the entire family (including me) bashes the surgery daily about how horrible it is....

It's funny how your family labels it "horrible" and yet still the "easy way" out? Ironic isn't it?

The thing is like the above poster said, this surgery is what you make of it. Those that fool around with the rules about how to eat post op, often have a reality slap in the face. In this case, your mother in law throwing up almost every day.

I'm 3.5 years post op and I have never once thrown up. It's not normal to continually throw up. For the 6 months, absolutely throwing up is normal as we have to introduce our pouches back to having food again. But being a few years out and throwing up daily clearly indicates that your MIL is more than likely not doing what she should be whether avoiding certain foods or chewing too little or eating too fast.

The benefit of this surgery - and I tell it to my support group that I run - is to get off as much weight within the first year to year and a half that you can. The first year you *can* eat many things that you should not, and still lose weight. It's very easy. The surgery is that strong initially. So most people have considerable success the first year. It's very hard to screw it up in the first year.

However, the problem is in the second, third, fourth ...year. If you've spent the first year eating crap and not following rules, over the course of the next two or three years, you will probably gain most or all of your weight back.

If you don't establish healthy eating habits, it WILL COME BACK TO BITE YOU IN THE BUT. I see a lot of people fail for this reason. They continue to eat the way they have been and they continue to stay on the couch. If we follow the rules, we can maintain or gain just a little bit back and then be fairly stable in our weight.

Many of us want better than that for ourselves so we work it, get to goal and continue healthy eating and exercise habits.

Four years ago, I could barely walk from the car to the door, door to the car. I'd walk up a flight of stairs and barely be able to breath.

Now I walk for 2 hours on Monday nights, play floor hockey for 2 hours on Tuesday, coach swimming on Friday nights for Special Olympics and coach basketball from Monday to Thursday. I completed a half marathon walking in October.

It's totally what you do with it.

Dawn


jillybean720
01-09-2010, 11:42 AM
In general, My question is: Is losing all the weight worth all the long term side effects (even if it is just extreme food restriction)?
For me, it wasn't JUST about the weight. I was skeptical, like you. I was more than 200 pounds before I entered high school, so I never knew a "normal" weight, yet I hated the idea of WLS. I knew some people who'd had it, and I watched them take fistfuls of vitamins with each meal, eat a few bites of food and not be able to eat anymore, run to the bathroom to vomit after 3 tortilla chips, never drink soda, count carbs very strictly...I was of the mindset that that was NOT a normal life, and being overweight was better than having to live like that. I was also of the mindset that if you could eat so little after surgery, why not just eat that little without having to be sliced open?Then, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 25, around 280 pounds. After a few days of the "why me's" (after all, I knew people who were older than me and fatter than me and less active than me who didn't have it, so why should I have to deal with it so young!?), I started doing research on diabetes treatments, and WLS came up. There were articles and shows on tv about how great the gastric bypass was for diabetes, but I just couldn't get past the potential lifestyle issues of dumping syndrome, vomiting, eating super tiny portions, fearing certain types of foods, etc. (and not all of those things happen to everyone, but it sounded liek a big gamble for me).

Then I found the Duodenal Switch procedure, and knew right away it was the procedure for me. It keeps the stomach intact instead of creating a pouch, just makes it smaller by removing the excess stomach. It also reroutes the intestines for more malabsorption than the gastric bypass, yet leaves a portion of the duodenum in place, whereas the gastric bypass bypasses the entire duodenum. The result: permanent caloric malabsorption (as opposed to temporary) and restriction on volume of food, but not as drastically as with the gastric bypass.

Now, I can tell you everything I thought about WLS before I had it was dead wrong. It's so different than you expect. Yes, you eat less, but you feel so SATISFIED with that smaller amount that it is much easier to eat less. And the vitamins don't bother me at all - I was taking diabetes meds twice per day anyway, so now I've eliminated those. I take some vits first thing in the morning, with lunch, when I get home from work, and before I go to bed. It's completely routine now and never interferes with my life. Since I've had part of my stomach removed, I also have less hunger (due to removing most of the ghrelin, which is known as the "hunger hormone"), and when I do feel hungry, just a few bites of food is enough to satisfy me, or I can eat more if I want. Last night, we went out for dinner, and I had 2 mozzarella sticks as an appetizer, tried a bite of the garlic bread, and had maybe half a cup of pasta salad and half of a wrap filled with chicken, ham, cheese, mayo, and lettuce. And sipped on a Diet Pepsi. And I was FULL. I could have eaten more than double that amount prior to surgery and still probably would have wanted to stop at the frozen yogurt bar across the street on the way home! So, I eat much less, but not so little that anyone knows I've had surgery unless I choose to tell them.

What type of surgery did you have, and how did it work for you?
and any other info/comments you have for me.
So, I went in for the DS. Now, I didn't get a "normal" DS due to adhesions from a prior abdominal surgery, so I have less malabsorption than a typical DS - about the same amount of malabsorption as a typical gastric bypass. Yet, I do have a "sleeve" stomach instead of the gastric bypass pouch.

It has worked very well for me so far. I can eat anything I want, just a bit less of it. I have lost almost 100 pounds (about 95) since late March, and, by some standards, I am no longer considered diabetic (though I still say I am - my own personal standards are a bit stricter than most!).

I chose the DS primarily for my diabetes, obviously, but also because I felt it would give me a better chance at a more "normal" lifestyle than the other procedures (again, not everyone has the side effects, but clearly my luck with health issues was NOT good!). With the DS, I take vitamins 4 times a day, only one of which occurs when I am not at home. I don't fear sugar because the DS does not cause dumping (though I still limit my sugar intake for my diabetes). I don't limit my fat intake at all because the DS causes malabsorption of most of the fat you eat, so fat is not bad for me at all (3 months ago, my TOTAL cholesterol was 112, despite my adding sour cream, butter, mayo, cheese, etc., to just about everything I eat).

Now, I will say this about the DS: if you're not willing to take all your vitamins and be proactive about learning about supplementation and tracking your own lab results, don't do it. You could very well end up in a world of hurt. You also need to be very educated about the surgery because most of the medical community will assume you've had gastric bypass, and you need to be able to explain to them what the difference is.



If you think you need only restriction of how much you can eat, I would look into the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG), which is what I have for my stomach - it's the first part of the DS but without any intestinal rerouting. Studies so far show the weight loss to be about the same as with the gastric bypass; the down side is that it is a newer procedure, so long-term results regarding the maintenance of that weight loss do not yet exist.

Amber1011
01-09-2010, 02:28 PM
Thank you everyone for all your advice. I have a lot to think over.

kerbear879
01-11-2010, 02:56 PM
Believe me, I've heard I took the easy way out a million times and I've learned to just ignore it because those people have absolutely no idea what I went through. That being said, I decided to have the surgery because I weighed 341 pounds and had tried most diets on the planet. My surgeon was extremely helpful in my decision process. The problem is that a lot people do think this surgery is a cure all meaning they can have it, will lose weight, it will be easy, and life will be perfect. Kinda far from it though..this surgery is only a tool to help you lose weight and the second you forget that is when it will stop working for you which is probably why your MIL has had difficulties with it. You are told right from the beginning what you need to eat, what vitamins to take, and what foods to avoid. It is up to you to follow those rules. I followed those rules to the number for a good year and lost 150 pounds in that one year. I've slacked off some over the past couple years and have regained some weight, but I rarely throw up because I know what foods not to eat. I don't for a second regret my decision and to be quite honest I don't feel like I am that different than before the surgey except I don't eat near as much as before. Lastly, I had severe acid reflux before this surgery to the point where it caused me to have a chronic cough and I would often lose my voice. My reflux was gone within 3 days of having this surgery and has never returned..that alone has made it worth it!

In the end, you have to do what's best for you..and yes it's a pretty big decision!

ShootingStar
01-16-2010, 12:46 PM
I used to think it was the "easy" way too. I have not had surgery, but I have come to realize that it is rude and ignorant to preach to someone about what's "best" for them. If you're comfortable with the idea, and you've done the research, to **** with other people. Best Wishes.

ladybugnessa
01-19-2010, 10:00 AM
this is so NOT the easy way out... but I thought that for the longest time. and if you don't make a commitment to PERMANENT lifestyle changes it will NOT work.

you have to learn to eat differently (both foods and amounts)
you have to learn to drink differently (not with meals, or right after meals or if you are a soda drinker you have to give that up for a while and never return to it in the same manner as before)
you have to learn to MOVE every day.... maybe not in the gym (although I love the gym) but get some serious movement... walking or something...
you have to commit to taking high quality supplements and protein

and you have to commit to it FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

yeah it's easy... umm NOT.

JustWes
01-20-2010, 04:03 PM
I felt the same way and really thought I was taking the easy way out, when I started. It took me 2 years to actually come to the decision to hav the surgery and I really thought I was going to fail.

For me the WLS surgery forced me to look at myself and what I was eating and allowed me to come up with a plan. WLS is a tool, not a cure all I've lost 173lbs with the lap band and I know its not typical. I know in my heart the moment I start eating what ever I want my weight will go back up. That's kept me on a path.

Hope that helped

jiffypop
01-26-2010, 02:32 PM
bumping up for jgray321

brijjy76
01-29-2010, 05:47 PM
My sister had gastric bypass in feb '09 and she has done so well. She has lost someting like 8 stone which is fabulous. Although I am proud of her I sort of resent her too. This is because deep down I do think it was easy for her. I know it's not and the pain and supplements etc are not easy to do but I can't help it.
She paid for her op as she probably wouldn't have qualified on the NHS and I know I could never ever afford to pay that kind of money. I also wouldn't qualify on the NHS as I am not obese enough! So I am really going to try and do it myself.
In conclusion I think this just means that I am jealous as **** of my sisters new look!!!

azhriaz
01-30-2010, 03:51 AM
I have a question for you to consider.

What -if- it -is- the easy way out?

Does that mean you're not healthier at a lower weight?
Does it mean that all the reasons you have for loosing weight somehow.. don't matter anymore because you had help?

I've got a lapband. I'm just about a year out, and I've lost as of this week, about 156 pounds. The lapband was a tool but I work out every day, pay close attention to what I eat, and spend a lot of time working on it.

I don't think I could have lost this much weight in the past year without the tool of the lapband. Does that mean it was 'easier'?... sure it does. What I'm sort of confused about is, why is making a choice that's SO influential on your life easier... so horrifying?

There's a lot that goes into massive weight loss. There's emotional side effects that you can't really believe until you're in the middle of it. There's trying desperately to find new means of coping with all the stuff you used to cope with -food- for. Just like any other diet/weight loss method. Why is it necessarily -bad- to have a tool to make this mountainous undertaking a little easier?

You may want to consider why taking an easier path is so.. abhorrent to you, in your investigating this process. You could learn a lot about yourself that would help you in the future.

jillybean720
01-30-2010, 09:34 AM
I agree that surgery IS the easy way out. That doesn't mean it's an easy decision or an easy recovery or anything like that, but it SURE has been easy for me to lose weight! I work just as hard now as I did pre-op to lose weight; the difference is that it now WORKS. So, even though I'm still doing work by making certain food choice and such, it absolutely is the easier way for me to lose weight.

And who cares? Do we berate people for using the TV remote instead of getting up to press the buttons on the TV? Do we mock people for driving a car to get from point A to point B? Do we think it silly to bolus with insulin when you're diabetic instead of just never eating a single carbohydrate? Aren't these all the EASIER ways to do things? Big deal - why should we be stuck to suffer when an easier way is available?

Duckslove
01-30-2010, 12:43 PM
I agree totally with Az and Jilly

azhriaz
01-30-2010, 01:01 PM
Oh one further question that occured to me last night for you to think on, related to the easy question. Are you possibly concerned that if the process is supposed to be 'the easy way out' that you won't be able to commit fully to the process? as everyone has said above there is a process, and it's not a guarantee but rather it's a tool that can make things easier. Will it be incapitatingly frustrating to you to have this 'easy way out' put in front of you and still have to -work- at it? Still have rough, upsetting moments?

I know to varying levels people for whom that's been the case long term. Having to put concious effort forward for the rest of their lives to eat healthier and live a different lifestyle ended up with resentment and frustration, and ultimately regain of a fair amount of weight.

I've rambled on enough on this subject likely.. but you wanted us to let you have our thoughts, to challenge you with questions and I've tried to do so. I wish you incredible good fortune, and hope no matter what you choose.

lizziep
01-30-2010, 06:16 PM
i think that part of the fear with "the easy way out" is... what if I fail at this too? What does that say about me... when even the easy way out was too hard. i know that is one of my many concerns in considering the surgery.

especially for the OP who has watched someone with the surgery fail at it.

jillybean720
01-30-2010, 06:32 PM
azhriaz - I can't speak for anyone else, but I can say that I have had moments of, "Why did I have SURGERY if I'm still not losing weight?!" I haven't really lost any notable amount of weight in, what, 4 months now? I'm bouncing between 210.5-214 pretty consistently right now, so I am still technically obese for my height. In fact, I'm at a weight where I see many people STARTING their weight loss journeys. But, for the most part, I focus on how far I've come and how much I can do now that I couldn't do when I was 300+ pounds. I also know that now, I am stronger and healthier than I was when I was 300+, so I can put forth the effort required to get more of the weight off on my own. This may not be how everyone views it, but it's how I feel.

i think that part of the fear with "the easy way out" is... what if I fail at this too? What does that say about me... when even the easy way out was too hard. i know that is one of my many concerns in considering the surgery.

especially for the OP who has watched someone with the surgery fail at it.
I think we sometimes place too much of the responsibility on ourselves, which I believe comes from a lifetime of living in a society that constantly reminds fat people that they are such because they are lazy, stupid, etc. Yes, some people fail at the surgery. Perhaps they got the wrong surgery for their habits. For example, if you are a grazer by nature and only nibble on small amounts of junk food all day long instead of eating large volumes at a time, a band probably isn't going to work for you. Others fail after the surgery due to mechanical issues, such as the pouch or stoma stretching. Sometimes, people have such major metabolic issues, which are difficult to pinpoint, that even major caloric restriction is not enough to get them all the way to where they need or want to be.

And then, even if failure IS caused by overeating or "not following the rules," there's likely a deeper reason, and psychological counseling should be sought.

Point being, I think we place entirely too much negative pressure on ourselves a lot of times. Yes, some people are just plain LOOKING for an easy way out and think they don't have to do any work, and that's how they end up regaining all the weight, but I'm not sure that's the case in the majority of instances (of course, in those instances, they are likely the same people looking for something else to blame other than themselves!). All we see is failure and, thus, we feel like WE are the failure, but that's not always the case.

Maybe, as part of all the testing we go through pre- and post-op, they should include resting metabolic rate testing.

Mama
01-31-2010, 02:36 AM
I have a question for you to consider.

What -if- it -is- the easy way out?

Does that mean you're not healthier at a lower weight?
Does it mean that all the reasons you have for loosing weight somehow.. don't matter anymore because you had help?

I've got a lapband. I'm just about a year out, and I've lost as of this week, about 156 pounds. The lapband was a tool but I work out every day, pay close attention to what I eat, and spend a lot of time working on it.

I don't think I could have lost this much weight in the past year without the tool of the lapband. Does that mean it was 'easier'?... sure it does. What I'm sort of confused about is, why is making a choice that's SO influential on your life easier... so horrifying?

There's a lot that goes into massive weight loss. There's emotional side effects that you can't really believe until you're in the middle of it. There's trying desperately to find new means of coping with all the stuff you used to cope with -food- for. Just like any other diet/weight loss method. Why is it necessarily -bad- to have a tool to make this mountainous undertaking a little easier?

You may want to consider why taking an easier path is so.. abhorrent to you, in your investigating this process. You could learn a lot about yourself that would help you in the future.

Wow! This was an eye opener! Both you and jilly make excellent points. Why DOES it matter if WLS is a "easy" way to lose weight? maybe we need to replace the word easy with effective... that seems more accurate, and less judgmental perhaps.

jiffypop
01-31-2010, 09:13 AM
it IS generally effective. and frankly, one of the biggest reasons that i had the surgery was NOT to lose the weight. it was to KEEP IT OFF!!! the surgery offered me the best chance to reduce the risk of regaining it - it levels the playing field so that in general, what works for everyone else [watching my diet, exercising, so on and so forth] will work for ME

kmac1196
02-07-2010, 11:19 AM
My thoughts, if anyone cares, is that you have to do the work of watching what you eat and how much no matter if you have WLS or not. WLS, from my friends who have had it, still have to watch what they eat even more so then someone just "watching what they eat." The WLS is just a back up plan...a tool and a motivating one at that. As the weight comes off quicker and you feel and look better quicker, it is good motivation to keep choosing the right things. I have been on the fence for WLS for a couple of years but I know the benefits. I think you are all brave for doing it!!! Forcing yourself to confront your eating issues....Congratulations!!