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Weight Loss Surgery If you've had it, or are considering it, share your discussions here

I'm new (really need info on long-term effects)

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Old 07-22-2003, 02:14 PM   #1
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Hi, My name is Colleen. I'm 37 and 368 lbs. I am newly married (seven months) to a super guy. He was diagnosed with Type II diabetes shortly after I met him almost two years ago. Since then, he's lost about 100 lbs. through diet, exercise, and metformin (his diabetes medication, that prevents the absorption of carbs). I've been very overweight all of my life (was put on my first diet at 5 years old). My body is starting to fall apart. Arthritis, high blood pressure, lower back problems (herniated a disk several years ago), sinus/allergy problems, and now probably asthma or worse .... All caused or worsened by my weight, but I guess it all came to a head last week, when I began getting serious shortness of breath. The doctor ordered a stress test to rule out heart disease and I will meet with him Monday to discuss the results. This really is scaring me. I've been considering wls for a while now, but joined WW about a month ago as my "one last try." I'm hoping at least, to lose enough weight to be a better candidate for laproscopic surgery. I've lost about 6 lbs in that month (I remember when I was in
college, I would lose 11 pounds the first week of any diet, and I weighed almost 100 lbs less). I'm torn, in that less drastic measures would be a better way to lose the weight, but if I haven't been able to lose the weight by those means in the last 32 years, there's no reason to think this time would be any different, particularly in the long run.
Trying to get useful information about wls on the internet has been very frustrating. There seems to be only two vew points #1: "in additon to weight loss, it will solve every problem you've ever had from taxes to acne," or #2: "it's medieval butchery from the dark ages, performed by doctors that make the **** Dr. Mengele look like a choir boy and if you make it through the surgery, you will suffer a prolonged, agonizing, untimely death, after gaining the weight back anyway, and then you'll go straight to **** for mutilating the body God intended you to have."
I'm so confused. The scariest "statistic," I heard from the #2 camp is that complications 10 years after surgery are inevitable and horrendous, and that there are few or no patients who live 25 years past surgery. Help!
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:58 AM   #2
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You should check out this site:

http://www.obesityhelp.com/morbidobesity/

I can't say there is a lot of info for long term effects. Since the RNY and LAP Band haven't been done as long as 25 years, there are no patients to follow. I know weight loss surgeries have been done for many, many years, but they were all more extreme.

The above site should provide you with more middle of the road opinions.

I guess one has to think too, what will be the effects of your weight in 25 yrs? I don't know the answers, I am struggling with the decision day to day.

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Old 07-23-2003, 12:46 PM   #3
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Hi Colleen,

That was a really great, well-written post.

It seems to me that there are nay-sayers for every single diet I've ever tried, including Weight Watchers. Your gall-bladder will have to be taken out, your kidneys will fail, your arteries will clog up, etc. It seems to be the same for WLS.

I've been struggling with the same issues as you are. I'm persuing WLS because I've decided that I've got too much potential to live as a fat woman for the rest of my life. I've done every diet I've ever heard of and a lot of them really work, but not for the long term. That's why I want the WLS - to give me a tool to help attain long-term results. Also, I don't believe the part about people not living 25 years past their surgery or having complications 10 years after. Frankly, I think if I don't do something, in 25 years I'll be dead anyway of weight-related causes.

The link that Rebecca posted is a really good one. Go see what you think and come back and post some more.

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Old 07-23-2003, 01:06 PM   #4
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sorry to have taken so long to answer [i was helping a woman driving a jeep!].

this was an interesting question, and i have asked a couple of longer-term post ops. there are LOTS of issues here. first, we know so much more these days about aftercare, the extra vitamin/mineral requirements, the lifelong monitoring that has to happen that it's not reasonable to compare outcomes from someone who had the surgery 20 years ago with someone who's having it today.

there's also the issue of how well the person takes care of himself/herself. i know of a woman who is permanently in a wheelchair, at the age of 27, because she refused to take her vitamins after the surgery. it only took a year.

another thing to consider is what these people died from. a truck? lung cancer? a heart attack? or something actually RELATED to the surgery? unfortunately, there are always diseases/conditions that go along with obesity that's severe enough to warrant the surgery: diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, are the biggest ones. losing the weight OFTEN helps with these conditions, but as time goes on, they can return.

also, just getting the surgery is no guarantee that the weiight won't come back without vigilance. so, maybe some of these folks regained their weight.

having said all this, one of my friends knows a woman who had the surgery more than 25 years ago, and is doing just fine. i met someone who had it 15 years ago and is doing well.

there's no real answer. but bottom line: where will you be in 10 years without the surgery? when i had it, i was so ill that i probably would have been dead within a couple of years. even if i now have only 20 years to live, that's 10 times longer than i had!

hang out with us!!! ask questions.. this is a major big step and deserves the most careful research so that you can make the right decision for YOU, no matter what it is....
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Old 07-23-2003, 08:13 PM   #5
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Thanks so much for the common sense advise. I'm a very intelligent person, but I have an "impulse control" problem in several areas of my life, and this is such a huge (there's got to be a pun in there some where) decision. I remember reading an article that discussed a study in which 70 percent of college women would abort a fetus if it could be determined that the child was likely to grow up obese. Even relatively normal sized women do very risky things to try and lose a tiny amount of weight. It makes me very sensitive to our society's view that it is better to be dead than fat, so it's almost seen as ok that many weight loss products and procedures are dangerous. Our society sees it as "worth the risk," to the point that teens are being treated with wls before they reach the "tried everything else and failed," stage. Then there's the other perspective, that I think is equally crazy, that fat is never the real problem, and that it's dieting that kills people. What's craziest of all, is I can't seem to find anyone who has an opinion somewhere in the middle. In the last few years, I've experienced increasingly sever health problems that I know are weight related (they go away when I lose weight, and they come back when I regain it, there's no big mystery there). Here I go ranting again, but I just want to make sure that I'm not trading one set of problems for an equal but different set. I also know there are no guarantees, and some side effects can be prevented or predicted and some can't. I'm willing to be under a physician's care for the rest of my life (I am already). I'm willing to pay attention to what I eat for the rest of my life, and realize there are negative consequences for failing to address my bodies needs (I do that now too). I'm willing to live my life according to strange idiocyncracies of my personal bodily functions (hey, I'm doing that already too). I'm willing to accept that maintaining a post wls body is going to be at least as difficult, as maintaining the one I've got. I'm even willing to accept a (slightly) shorter life expectance, if necessary, for fewer higher quality years. I'm even willing to acknowledge that there's a possibility that a physical or mental defect in me may prevent this from being permanent. What I'm not willing to do, is say my life is so horrible (it isn't) that any risk is acceptable.
I see my doctor on Monday to find out the results of the heart scans I had this week. I'm going to talk to him about wls. Meanwhile, I'm trying my damndest to lose at least enough weight to make me a better candidate for laproscopic surgery.
(Big, big, big, big sighhhhhhh).
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Old 07-23-2003, 08:51 PM   #6
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kaplods,
hey iam just a lurker all but you have found a GREAT group of people that will give you every ounce of support you need or want. Good luck to you.
-L
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Old 07-23-2003, 09:18 PM   #7
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Rebecca,
I had a chance to check out the website you gave me. Wow! There was so much information, and I loved the journals from patients, listed by their doctor and insurance. Seeing the daily journals was great too, as I could see real ups and downs, including the complications and just plain awful days. I know it seems weird that I'd feel comforted by seeing the bad side, but it's my paranoid nature, to avoid things that sound too good to be true. I had a coworker in stitches, when I told her I would have been better able to deal with the doctor's telling me I had 7 minutes to live after my stress test, than having them refuse to discuss any of the results with me. I guess I've always had a very active imagination, and can always imagine much worse than the truth.
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Old 07-23-2003, 10:23 PM   #8
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kaplods... sounds like you have a lot of stuff to work out. and that's the way it should be!!! it took me two years of research and thinking to decide this is what i had to do.

i'm 18 months post op, and i still have bad days. the first three months sucked. but they ended!!!!!!!

I had my annual check up with my PCP and i have iron deficiency anemia. it was caught early, but it's directly related to the surgery. it's all ok. just have to supplement off and on for the rest of my life.

talk to as many people as you can find. check out www.partnershipinweightcontrol.com the owner is an RN who also had the surgery, and she's a pioneer in the aftercare of wls patients. she knows her stuff.

post with us, and we'll do what we can. but bottom line, it's in your hands. and no one will criticize you if you decide it's not for you. but you DO owe it to yourself to do the research.
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:00 PM   #9
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Yeah, I'm really scared (to pursue the surgery, and just as scared not to), but I think I'd be stupid to feel any other way.
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Old 07-24-2003, 09:40 AM   #10
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Hi there! I'm glad to hear you are doing lots and lots of research before making a decision. I have run across so many who want the surgery yesterday and than have no clue what changes they need to make.

I'm not trying to scare you, but I wanted you to know that following wls surgery(s) I had very, very SEVERE complications and came close to losing my life. My complications are not typical, but can and do happen.

I'm 18 months out also. I honestly believe, even with what I went through following surgery, that wls was the BEST thing I ever did for myself.

Keep posting with us and ask lots of questions.
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Old 07-26-2003, 09:56 PM   #11
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This is a very good group of very intellignet (even if we can't type, or spell either) I suggest you read this whole thread, it's only been going about a year,and there are lots and lots of really good information in it. DebKay & Jiff had their surgery about 18 months ago and my DH ole Alvin had his 15 months ago. That is when the great girls here on 3fc took us out of the "Fitness Scams" section to be the respectable group we are today. Anyway if you go back and read some of our eariler post, you will get a lot of insight of what life after surgery is really about. We are not medical people and believe it or not we have real lives, and we talk about our lives, not just surgery, but our lives. These lifes have all been changed by the decision to have the surgery, but we are just normal people going about the normal thing. I know when ole Alvin first started talking about surgery, I was scared to death for him to have it. If he died, I would be left here to go on without him, and I wasn't wanting to do that. Everything I read were horror stories, how if you happened to make it off the operating table, you'd wish you hadn't type thing.

But ole Alvin is such a different person today than he was 18 months ago. He feels so much better, not to mention how much better he looks, that if he had it to do over again, I'd be pushing for him to do it. I must add that his opinion is not quite the same, he feels that it was his only option, but when I mention the idea of my having it, he trys to talk me out of it.

But hang in ther and read everything you can about it. Talk to you doctor, but don't be suprised it he/she is not all for it. But you have to make your own decision, but make it as informed as you can.
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Old 07-27-2003, 12:44 AM   #12
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I've read a lot of the old posts, and I've read tons of the stories on the website Rebecca mentioned (great, cause I could read journal entries from patients of the doctors my insurance will approve). The more I read, the more there is to consider. My biggest concern at first, was would my insurance company pay for it, and the short term health consequences (would I survive the surgery, and if so would I suffer any nasty complications soon after surgery). Monday I talk to my doctor, and see what the heart scan results were, and talk to my doctor about wls. I have decided to begin the process of getting approved by my insurance, and in the mean time working as hard as I can at drinking my water, staying on program (Weight Watchers) and exercising 3 times a week. From everything I've read, it will take several months before surgery is even an option, and to be a candidate for laproscopic surgery I probably will need to lose some weight before surgery. I've lost about 10 pounds in 5 weeks (haveing a loss each week, which I haven't been able to say in many years). For the most part, my family is supportive, but I'm having "mother" issues. My Mom has lost 55 lbs on Weight Watchers, and we've been going to meetings together. Once I begain considering wls, my Mom has become less supportive of my attempts at traditional dieting. If she could have her way, I'd be having surgery tomorrow morning. I've told her that it's going to take months to be approved, let alone have surgery, and that I've got to do what I can by traditional means in the meantime. This isn't sitting too well with her, and since I've begun considering wls, she's been less supportive of my losses at WW weigh-ins (I'm not sure why she reacts so negatively. I think she is afraid I'll decide against the surgery, and then drop out of WW). I know she isn't being unsupportive on purpose, but it's very frustrating to be very proud of a 2 - 3 lb weight loss, and have it pointed out that without wls it's going to take me 3 - 4 years to lose the weight. I'm trying to look at it as practice in life changes I will need whether or not I have the surgery, and I need the support wherever I can get it.
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Old 07-27-2003, 01:05 AM   #13
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I've read a lot of the old posts, and I've read tons of the stories on the website Rebecca mentioned (great, cause I could read journal entries from patients of the doctors my insurance will approve). The more I read, the more there is to consider. My biggest concern at first, was would my insurance company pay for it, and the short term health consequences (would I survive the surgery, and if so would I suffer any nasty complications soon after surgery). Monday I talk to my doctor, and see what the heart scan results were, and talk to my doctor about wls. I have decided to begin the process of getting approved by my insurance, and in the mean time working as hard as I can at drinking my water, staying on program (Weight Watchers) and exercising 3 times a week. From everything I've read, it will take several months before surgery is even an option, and to be a candidate for laproscopic surgery I probably will need to lose some weight before surgery. I've lost about 10 pounds in 5 weeks (haveing a loss each week, which I haven't been able to say in many years). For the most part, my family is supportive, but I'm having "mother" issues. My Mom has lost 55 lbs on Weight Watchers, and we've been going to meetings together. Once I begain considering wls, my Mom has become less supportive of my attempts at traditional dieting. If she could have her way, I'd be having surgery tomorrow morning. I've told her that it's going to take months to be approved, let alone have surgery, and that I've got to do what I can by traditional means in the meantime. This isn't sitting too well with her, and since I've begun considering wls, she's been less supportive of my losses at WW weigh-ins (I'm not sure why she reacts so negatively. I think she is afraid I'll decide against the surgery, and then drop out of WW). I know she isn't being unsupportive on purpose, but it's very frustrating to be very proud of a 2 - 3 lb weight loss, and have it pointed out that without wls it's going to take me 3 - 4 years to lose the weight. I'm trying to look at it as practice in life changes I will need whether or not I have the surgery, and I need the support wherever I can get it.
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Old 07-27-2003, 09:56 PM   #14
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hmmmm colleen... lots of stuff going on with you... first, my surgery was lap, and the docs i was with will do lap on anyone under 500 pounds. the reason it's 500 pounds is because that's the load limit on the operating room table, not because of the lap equipment itself.

so, at 368, you don't have to lose an ounce to qualify for lap surgery. BUT... any weight you lose NOW makes you less of a surgical risk. it eases the strain on your heart and lungs. even a two pounds a week make a huge difference. if we're looking at 6 months from now for the surgery [and this is just a guess...] we're talking nearly 50 pounds! nothing to sneeze at..

as for the lack of mom support... darlin. here's the real deal. ya gotta realize that no matter what, this decision is between you and your doctor. and it actually rests with you, because if you don't feel that your doctor is properly supporting your efforts, whatever your decision, you need a new doctor. it's really hard when you're heavy. we all know we need to be thinner, but we are still, first and foremost, human beings who deserve to be treated with respect and support.

it's a hard thing for us heavy folks to learn.

but back to mom. if it gets too tough for you, may i suggest separate meetings for you two? yeah, i know that could cause some problems, but if you're doing what you KNOW is right, you don't need to be undermined in this way.

and it's kind of interesting. most people with mom issues have moms who are against the surgery. this is the first time i've heard of one PUSHING for it!!!!! maybe she's interested in it????

go in with your eyes wide open. after 18 months, i'm officially in iron deficiency anemia. but my compulsive PCP won't give me iron supplements until i have a colonoscopy, which is at least 3 weeks away!!!

iron supplements will fix this. but if you're not willing to take these supplements when you need them, you're risking a lot.

backl to WW. you're right: it's good practice for the changes you'll need to make after surgery, but please remember that you'll be playing by a whole different set of rules: lots of protein. some vegs, no fruit [for awhile] and no starchy carbs [for quite awhile longer!]. not exactly WW. but the efforts at portion control, handling stress, boredom, the munchies, etc. eating consciously.. all that is just exactly what you'll need to handle the after-surgery life.

as for ole alvin.. he's lost more than anyone i know,m but he's doing it on the mashed potatoes plan. a recipe for troulbe [and barb has lectured and lectured and fussed and fumed about this]. but bottom line: he's responsible for what he puts in his mouth, as are we all..
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Old 07-27-2003, 10:26 PM   #15
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Thanks jiffypop. You're right. I've had "Mom/food" issues all of my life. Mom does her best, but she's one of those people that truly tends to see the world in black and white (or rather her way and the wrong way, and she doesn't let little things like facts get in the way of her beliefs). She met one person who had the wls (and had a great experience), and is all for it. She sees my desire to research the procedure before jumping in with my eyes closed as just another way for me to challenge her. (I'm making her sound like Mommy dearest, but she's really great about 95% percent of the time - but oh that 5 %!). Luckily, I do trust my current doctor. As for the laproscopic surgery, I haven't spoken to a surgeon yet, so I was just going by what I'd been reading on many of the bariatric surgery websites (that stated laproscopic was considered riskier than open procedures for patients over 350 lbs). I think it's also just the principle of the thing. If I were to say "screw the diet" until the surgery, I think it would not be a good sign for my ability to successfully follow the post-surgery "rules." I think I'm pretty much on track. Just have to take it one day at a time like everybody else.
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