Weight Loss Surgery - Surgery question...

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Latchkey Princess
12-12-2011, 10:16 PM
So I've been considering WLS. Those in my family who've done it have had moderate to no success with it. My own mother just had her gastric band taken out a month or so ago because she's been puking everything she eats for the last 5 years (except, of course, the candy and milkshakes, but thats another issue altogether) and she barely lost any weight. My aunt lost about 100lbs after her Roux-en-Y, but then she stopped, and she hasn't lost and has even gained some back. So that track record of failure scares me a bit, but I think that's because they didn't address the issues behind WHY they ate, they just addressed the problem of the ability to eat...

At any rate, the surgery I've been researching the most is the gastric sleeve. I understand it as being a surgery that won't hurt your nutritional intake as much as a traditional bypass since there is no malabsorption issues, only a drastic cut in the amount you can eat. So I guess first I want to make sure I'm understanding what it is correctly, so if I'm wrong let me know!

And I was wondering if anyone had used surgery as a means to stop them from binge eating/compulsive overeating. Not as a permanent fix of course, but to curb the binging long enough to be able to have to/want to face the issues behind it. I think if I could face my issues I could do so much better, not even just with weight loss but also with my depression and anxiety (which I eat to make feel better). Right now though, every time I get close to facing something (past or present) that is bothering me, I stuff myself. I've tried not to, but the war in my head is losing battle for me right now. Could WLS help me with this? If I take away my coping mechanism, I'll be forced to work through things, right? (since I already quit all my other coping mechanisms, food is the only addiction I haven't been able to kick)

I haven't even talked to my doc about it yet, I'm not even certain my insurance would cover it or anything. But between my family failing with this, and the idea that I might have to hash some issues out instead of covering them up, it scares me. But it also feels like it might be my last hope.

I guess this was more a vent/rant/whatever than anything. Thanks for reading. :-)

12-13-2011, 02:30 AM
i cant answer the question to " what is it" but i can definitly tell you, that if you are binging or compulsive eating...weight loss surgery will be a shot in the dark at best..you need to learn to deal with your issues of why you eat and binge first before you can begin to see success in the area of weight loss..For me.. i suffered from severe binge eating for a long time and i have tried diet after diet after diet..and this is the first time in my life that i have finally decided to try and do something about the binging before doing something about the weight loss...so i joined OA-over -eaters anonomoys and so far i have been binge free for 7 days and i have been learning to connect more to my feelings and learning to feel them and express them instead of stuff them down for food..i thought people were crazy to tell me to deal with that issue first, but they were right..you gotta deal with whats making you eat first before you can go after something as drastic as expensive surgery...the surgery wont stop the binging..you will stop the binging when you begin to work on the issue behind it..

good luck!

12-13-2011, 09:56 AM
I really think you need to seek counseling for your binge eating (if you aren't already doing so). Surgery can help a bit, but it certainly won't solve the problem. And you can stretch out a sleeve, no matter who tells you you can't - take my word for it! If you continuously fill your sleeved stomach to capacity, it will gradually stretch out and reduce the amount of restriction you have (which will happen a little bit naturally, but filling or OVERfilling will stretch it out even more).

Also, even with a sleeve, the types of food you eat will make a difference. Food will stay in the stomach for a shorter period of time due to the new tube-like shape, so things like ice cream, milkshakes, potato chips, etc., that can slide through easily will still be an issue if those are the types of things you tend to binge on.

There's no reason you can't work (or continue to work) through counseling AND have surgery as a tool to support your progress, but the surgery alone likely won't cut it.

I have a VSG stomach as part of my surgery, and, while I couldn't eat much at one time early out (obviously), I'm now more than 2.5 years out and can eat quite a bit at a sitting, especially if carbs are involved!

12-13-2011, 10:11 AM
Hi Latchkey -

You're right to be concerned about the binge eating, and about the family's success [or not!] with surgery. surgery will NOT take away the urge to binge - in fact, many people talk about HEAD HUNGER afterwards. They know they're not hungry, but they're looking for food. and it's one of the hardest things to deal with.

So, please try - again [because i'm sure you've tried many many times] - to address some of the issues that are related to the binging. as just about any surgeon will tell you - they operate on your digestive system, not your brain.

good luck!

12-14-2011, 12:11 AM
I truly believe that counseling is the key! WLS will not work for you if you continue to binge...which you can do after surgery. If you can't eat a large amount, you can still eat all day and ruin your results. WLS fixes the size of you tummy, not the brain...not WHY you eat in the first place. I know that we eat for good reason, its the only way we know to deal with the pain and the stress of things that happened or are happening to us, we need to find ways to deal with that pain before we have surgery or there isn't really much hope in it working well and lasting a lifetime.

Love yourself enough to find out the reasons why you overeat, how to deal with the feelings that cause you to binge, and give yourself the best chance to succeed in losing weight whether or not you have WLS.

Angela :hug:

Latchkey Princess
12-18-2011, 02:06 PM
Thank you for your honesty. I will continue to work with my therapist and attempt to face my issues without resorting to food to cover up the feelings the come with them. I appreciate you candid responses.

12-18-2011, 04:51 PM
Princess - just sending you a hug. what you're doing is HARD!!!! and even 10 years after surgery, there are times that i'm MISERABLE because i want to eat some feeling away, and I CAN'T!!! the only thing i can do is SIT with the emotion and wait for it to leave.


12-18-2011, 05:31 PM
One of the reasons I decided against wls was because of binge eating. When I read about dumping syndrome and other horrible, painful consequences of overeating - I realized that it wasn't much different (except by degree) of what I was already experiencing. Discomfort and even pain wasn't a deterrent before surgery, so I had no reason to think it would be afterward.

As it was, I was already eating until I was in such pain I had to lie down, and I'd often literally be in so much pain that I felt like I was going to die. I'd get cold sweats, my heart would race, and I often would get incredibly painful stomach cramping and explosive diarrhea... and that was without surgery.

I was literally afraid that after surgery I might literally eat myself to death (because I was already afraid of that happening).

I eventually learned (long story -- but it started with my doctor recommending low carb dieting) that I don't have a food addiction - I have a sugar/starch addiction. I also learned that my emotional issues weren't causing my carbohydrate binges nearly as severely as my carbohydrate binges were causing my emotional issues.

When I restrict carbs to a low enough level (but am including plenty of veggies) not only do I find it easier to avoid bingeing, the emotional rollercoaster ride leveled off as well.

I'm more in control of my emotions when I'm in control of my food.

I'm not saying counseling didn't help me, but changeing my diet helped me a lot more.

I'm not saying this is true for you, but it's worth a shot. I'd recommend that
you experiment with different degrees of carb restriction and see if it helps you emotionally and with your food-control (as it did me)

There are really two ways to go about it. You can cut carbs drastically and then gradually add them back in (as Atkins and South Beach do) or you can do it "backwards" and gradually reduce carbs until you experience the control you're happy with (or until you decide that carb-restriction doesn't help).

I'm still experimenting with my diet, but I've almost completely eliminated the eating-until-sick binges (I had one last weekend at a family Christmas party, but the last one was a year ago. So, going from 3-4 binges a week, to one or two a year was pretty impressive to me).

I'm not saying give up therapy. I believe strongly in it's value (as I have a bachelors' and masters' degree in psychology) I'm just suggesting that you may find that WHAT you're eating may be contributing to the bingeing.

I'd highly recommend the book "The End of Overeating," by David Kessler. It was the book that inspired me to consider that what I was eating was actually more responsible for my lack of control.

It helped me tremendously.

12-19-2011, 09:49 AM
There are really two ways to go about it. You can cut carbs drastically and then gradually add them back in (as Atkins and South Beach do) or you can do it "backwards" and gradually reduce carbs until you experience the control you're happy with (or until you decide that carb-restriction doesn't help).
Or you can cut them out and NOT add them back in! That's my preferred method (though I'm a poor example at the moment).

I agree with SO MUCH of what kaplods said. If you have any sort of carb/starch/sugar addiction or metabolic issues (such as insulin resistance, which many people have and don't even know it), a low-carb way of eating can be a lifesaver. It may be worth a shot.

In addition to the book kaplods mentioned, I believe "Wheat Belly" by William Davis and "Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It" by Gary Taubes (or, if you're more scientific and prefer a slightly more advanced read, Taubes's "Good Calories, Bad Calories") to be helpful resources as well.

12-19-2011, 01:58 PM
It was counseling that pointed out WHY I eat and helped me past those reasons. I would not give up the chance to grow as a person, start there and the rest falls into place easier. Yet, once the body of a carb addict is used to the Serotonin levels being altered by high levels of simple carbs, it’s hard to convince it that it can make enough on its own. Just like the drug addict in me that will always crave drugs to make me feel good, if I eat simple carbs I want them all day! If I limit them, I don't remind my brain that it can have it easy by getting its "fix" through sugar. It was the very reason I had WLS and specifically GB, the dumping syndrome helped me by providing me with a consequence if I ate too much sugar. I needed the kick in the pants.


12-19-2011, 08:39 PM
Or you can cut them out and NOT add them back in! That's my preferred method (though I'm a poor example at the moment).

Technically true, but very few people need or benefit from a carb-free or Atkins induction level diet, which means most people are going to have to experiment with different levels of carb-restrictions - and with which foods need to be restricted.

When I say add back in carbs, I don't mean going back to eating any and all carbs. I mean a person needs to find the carb-threshold that he or she feels and does best on.

I think the odds of choosing your own individual best carb-threshold from the start, is rather unlikely, so experimenting is key for most people. And that means adding and subtracting certain foods, and seeing what happens when you do.

So some people may be very lucky and will find their perfect level with little or no modifications/experimentation needed - during weight loss or maintenance. I don't think that's going to be everyone's experience though. I think most people are going to have to experiment to discover how low-carb they need to go to lose weight, and how low-carb they need to maintain. It may be the same, but it also may not be.

Adding and subtracting carbohydrates (and types of carbs) are a necessary part of the process of finding one's perfect level. Finding that level on the first try, would be like winning the biggest lottery prize, ever.

12-20-2011, 08:02 AM
Technically true, but very few people need or benefit from a carb-free or Atkins induction level diet...
I'm not going to argue the matter because I agree with the central point that we each have to find what works best for us as individuals.

I do want to point out that the human body naturally needs no dietary carbohydrates. I would argue (heh, I JUST said I wasn't going to "argue" anything, but I can't think of a better phrase at the moment!) that most people would benefit from a very low-carb diet; it's just that most don't know or would never realize such because our society makes a very low-carb diet more difficult to stick to and pushes things like fruits/juices, starchy veggies, and grains as "healthy" foods. It's not just about weight loss or maintenance, but that carbs in the diet actually contribute to a multitude of non-weight-related issues, which is why ketogenic diets have even been used to treat such conditions as schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, cancers, epilepsy, and things like type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol in non-obese patients. I'm forever trying to (gently) coax my mother into trying to lower her carb intake because carbs are also known to exacerbate inflammatory conditions (she's go arthritis). So, for me (and many others), going low-carb isn't just about weight, but about improved health in general. Keeping the carbs low keeps my health optimal. Of course, that said, there are also multiple "ways" of going low-carb, and I think one has to be cautious in weighing the trade-offs when considering things like artificial sweeteners, soy replacement products, and processed "low-carb" marketed products. Which essentially brings us back to, "play around to find what works for you." :dizzy:

12-20-2011, 03:25 PM
I'm guessing we're defining carbs somewhat differently. Because I would also agree that starchy and sugary foods (even fruits) aren't necessary, but I do believe that high-fiber vegetables are extremely beneficial. The all-meat and fat diet is possible, and some people may do well on it, but most people are going to want some carbs in their diet, even if only fiber carbs (and the traces of carbs that are found in low-calorie, high-fiber veggies).

Still, most people are going to experiment, because why go on the all-animal diet if you do not have to. Greens and veggies and low-carb berries at the very least provide antioxidants and fiber - and also the minerals that most people aren't getting on a meat-only diet.

If you're going on to a meat-only diet, you need to eat the entire animal - that means the skin, the internal organs, the softer chewable bones, the tendons - essentially everything but the hair, the stomach contents, and the bones you can't chew up.

The Inuit (eskimo) diet is often used to support the idea that a meat-only diet is sustainable, because the traditional diet contains only very small amounts of plant foods - but this is misleading because "small amount" and "no amount" are very different ideas.

The experiments that have been done of no-meat diets haven't been long-enough to prove that zero carbs is healthy in the long-term. Especially because they often did include plant foods (such as tea and coffee - traces of carbs, to be sure -but carbs nonetheless - and foods extremely high in antioxidants).

The Inuit's plant foods also are extremely low-carb ones, (but low and zero are still not the same) and the foods are extremely high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Deep colored berries, grassy herbs...

Also, there's some evidence that the fat of cold-water fish and marine animals (the staple of the Inuit diet) is significantly different than that of land animals (for example whale blubber is said to have as much or more vitamin C per ounce than oranges).

If you're arguing that people should avoid even vegetables and low-sugar fruits, I don't believe there's any evidence to support that.

I've experimented with many levels of low-carb (though never an absolutely no plant diet), and when I drop below 40g per day, I get very ill.

And that's the only type of low-carb I'm arguing against - the ZERO-carb, ZERO-plant food diet (and not even against the super low-carb diet of the traditional Inuit diet, as long as you're following the diet as Inuits do - eating plant foods when they're available and eating virtually all of the animal as the Inuit do).

I'm not even arguing that a zero-carb diet is wrong for everyone. I haven't read any long-term research of such a diet.

I just am arguing that a zero-carb diet probably isn't necessary.

I'm guessing that if we had to choose one diet that everyone had to follow (luckily we don't) that it would have to be the paleo diet (no grains, virtually no fruits, but at least some carbs - even if almost exclusively in the form of undigestible fiber).

To truly eliminate all carbs, one would have to eliminate all plant foods, including coffee, tea and seasoning herbs as well - and that would be an extremely bland diet. As the only seasonings you could use would be salts, fish sauce and other fermented meat seasonings.

Because eliminating all carbs is virtually impossible, I stand by my statement that people are going to have to experiment. Some may do fine with their carbs coming from only coffee, tea, and herbs. Others may do well adding only a few cups of greens. Others may be able to add in some berries.

That's my only argument, that while it may be possible to eat a plant-free diet, it's not necessarily necessary. And if you don't want to eat an animal-only diet, there's no reason to. Instead, you have to find the carb level you can do best on.

12-20-2011, 07:13 PM
The dietary stuff that Jill and Kaplods are debating is good to try and understand...part of the education process. There are a ton of things to understand about the post surgery diet....

To refocus on your issue, Latchkey. I hope you feel supported in your decision making process. It can be scary to try and figure out what is right for you, I liken it to a rollercoaster ride! I would take a step back and realize it is a lifetime you are looking at, taking the next few months or even a year or two to hash things out, continue with your therapist, look at all your options, research whether your want surgery and which one would be right for you, if you even choose to have WLS.

Angela :hug:

12-20-2011, 07:21 PM
if we want to continue the discussion of carbs/no carbs/definitions of carbs/diet manipulation, i'll be happy to pull out some of these posts and make them a separate thread - just let me know!!

12-20-2011, 11:35 PM
I had a sleeve done on Oct 21st this year and between that and 3 weeks of optifast I lost 46 lbs fairly quickly. I have not weighed myself in a week or so because I am already on a slippery slope of bad eating habits that I hate to admit to but I'm being honest. I think the problem is when I was doing optifast and the first few weeks of post-op diet I was very regimented and didn't have to think much about what I was eating. Now that I can eat regular food it is much more difficult. I can't eat much but I find myself eating foods I really want to stay away from. With the sleeve I can eat anything, I am not going to dump if I eat sugar or fat but if I eat too much or too quickly or drink fluids while I am eating I will feel very full very quickly and have inadvertently made myself almost sick on 2 occasions. It doesn't help with the time of year that it is. I don't think I have gained because I'm not eating that much but sure as heck I doubt I am losing. I don't want to face the scale right now because it is that time of the month and I feel bloated so I don't want that water weight to depress me. Take my word for it that if binge eating is an issue you will not be able to eat hardly anything to begin with but I don't know how long it would be before your stomach started to stretch out again. Generally I eat slowly and stop when I start to feel even a little full which is about 5 or 6 bites. Recently I was at a fancy restaurant and could barely eat anything and I had the waiter inquire if my food was okay because I'd barely touched it! So like I said on 2 occasions I have eaten more than what I should or I was eating too fast and recently I had the hiccups while I was eating and had some water and I thought I was going to be sick. Not just the nausea but there is a lot of pain putting too much into such a tiny stomach. I don't know if the time period where you absolutely have to be regimented in your diet for safety if no other reason (in the healing period post-op where you could easily damage your digestive system by non compliance with the diet) is enough time for you to get over binge eating. My personal thoughts are probably not. I am not a binge eater, never was but have my own issues with food. I have to get back to basics already, it's only been 2 months and I'm back into some bad habits! It is not easy to break those and maybe I was feeling a bit too proud of myself. Anyway I hope I have given you something to think about and if you have any questions about the sleeve please do ask me anything!

12-21-2011, 09:22 AM
I never said zero carb - that's nearly impossible (even aggs have carbs!). I would define very low carb as being around 30g or less per day. End of carb discussion in this thread :P

But low-carb diet or no, I still think counseling can be very helpful. Even though I've done well with my surgery, I still have some compulsive eating issues I likely need to address. I've looked up counselors more than once, but I'm so afraid that I won't be able to find the right one for me, and I fear wasting time hopping from one to another searching. And now I'm pregnant, so I've got bigger fish to fry! I usually combat my overeating issues by just limiting availability of things I know I can't control well, so we don't keep any junk or even hardly and convenient snack foods in our house (even "healthy" ones because too much of anything can still be a bad habit).

12-21-2011, 09:57 AM
Jen - wow- you're sure experiencing the gamut of issues we've all faced [and are STILL facing!]. I just want to comment on two points you made [because all the rest are things i absolutely sympathize with and understand, and they're things that you're actually figuring out for yourself so that you can live with the surgery[

first of all, waiters are always concerned that the food is good - and they're always afraid if we're not eating it. Just smile sweetly and say something along the lines of 'it's delicious, but my eyes are bigger than my stomach' or 'i'm just eating slowly and enjoying it' or 'my goodness this is a huge portion.' bottom line: don't eat more than you want because you're afraid that you'll be hurting someone's feelings or causing a scene.

and about the binge eating and healing from surgery. binge eating = emotional responses [and sometimes food triggers, but IMO, that association is mostly learned before it becomes biochemical]. surgery = physiological changes.

so, while the surgery can give you that awful reminder that you're eating wrong at the moment, it CANNOT fix the emotions. but it CAN help you un-learn and change. and that'll take time - in some cases years. and during times of stress, you'll feel the urge and will have to do something to get through it.

wish i could have happier news for you, but ...

and jilly - THANK YOU!!! :)

12-21-2011, 08:42 PM
oh definitely surgery is not going to fix emotional problems but I'm thinking that the negative reinforcement of that horrible full sick feeling potentially could stop the binge eating long enough to deal with the emotions. It's a potential but not probable because as you say food issues develop over years and not likely to be fixed in a few weeks.

After posting yesterday I was very stern with myself and made myself get on the scale this morning. Good news is that I have not gained and so I'm hopeful that in a few days when my period is over I may drop a few lbs of water weight, not counting on it but would be nice. I'm going back to basics, making sure I am getting my protein and water, that was sliding a bit. I'm not going to beat myself up if I had a little bit of what I probably shouldn't have had, I couldn't eat much anyway, that was the good thing because I do stop eating when I get that slightest bit full feeling and usually I don't feel like I need to eat for a few hours after that.

01-15-2012, 08:35 PM
I had a VSG (sleeve) nearly three years ago. Although my weightloss has been slow (due to medical reasons) the surgery was and still is a success.

However, weightloss surgery is done on your digestive system - not your head. If you don't get your headhunger under control, then every single type of wls can and will be unsuccessful.

WLS just gives you the time to re-adjust your thinking and eating patterns, but if you don't make those permanent adjustments - or deliberatly eat around your wls with slider foods - then you will re-gain. It is not advisable to get a surgery because youthink that you will be able to still eat junk food and just get a bad upset tummy from it. Dumping is not guaranteed with any surgery, and "dumping syndrome" can be far more debilitating and is actually alot more than just exlposive bowel movements.

Many bariatric surgeons insist on psych reviews and therapy for very good reason, and its defintely worth while seeing a therapist as part of the process (people who have lengthy therapy tend to be more successful).

Personally I do recommend wls (except the lapband), the statistics are weighted heavily against maintaining weight loss without it (something like 95% of people who loose weight from diet/excercise regain it with interest within 5 years - repeated personal experience supports this). Even with surgery, maintenance is not guaranteed if you don't sort your head out.

02-17-2012, 05:36 PM
I can only speak for myself on these issues. I had a Roux-en-Y in August 2006. I went from 299 to 225 and couldn't lose anymore. I became frustrated and went back to my old ways of "grazing". I wasn't eating regular meals, but rather, just nibbling throughout the day. I ended up back at 275, and I KNOW I have to take the weight off. Weight Loss Surgery is not a fix all. I know at least 6 people who had the surgery. Unfortunately two passed away shortly after. My ex-husband went from 500+ lbs down to 180 then back up to 400 lbs lbs. He recently went to Mexico and had WLS redone and is now down to 200 lbs. Everyone I know who has had the surgery had gained back most, if not all of the weight. I think if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't do it.