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Weight Loss Surgery Regrets

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Old 12-17-2005, 07:51 PM   #1
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Default Weight Loss Surgery Regrets

I felt compelled to open this thread after just now reading the responses to missmeliss's support thread and coming across the final post about not knowing a single person who regrets having had the surgery.

If the thread hadn't been closed I would have posted this there. It has been closed to I'm posting here instead.

So let me introduce myself as a woman who REGRETS having had the surgery. And I had it twice. I also, btw, have personally known others who have regrets. And then of course there are even a few who just plain aren't HERE any more and I'm sure their families have regrets on their behalf.

WLS is anything but sunshine and roses and I for one don't buy into the rah rah ain't it great mantra. Its serious. Deadly serious. And those of us who have had problems and who do have regrets have a very important message to convey to anyone considering the surgery.

That doesn't mean I won't support anyone going that route 200% or that I don't understand the choice to have the surgery. God knows I do because I had it twice.

But it disturbs me almost beyond words when the picture is painted all rosie and the reality of the risks gets glossed over.
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Old 12-17-2005, 09:15 PM   #2
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I just wanted to chime in a related story, sort of to speak for someone who can't...I've been fortunate enough to find a diet/strategy that's working for me (exercise & South Beach, which I think works well for me due to a family history of diabetes/blood sugar sensitivity). But, just because WLS isn't for me I do completely understand that it is the right choice for others, so please don't take this post as anti-WLS...I just think that the more information you have when making such a major decision the better and want to put this out there.

Anyway, when I rotated through the ICU there was a patient there who had had a gastric bypass (medically recommended) and had almost *every* possible complication imaginable...a wound that wouldn't close (and had to be reopened a few times due to direct complications), infections, was now awake after a coma but on a vent to breathe (and so couldn't eat/drink/speak), etc.. When I rotated *out* she was still there, and by that point had been in the ICU for seven months (I don't know what happened to her since). Her case is certainly rare and extreme, but it does really happen...and I know for myself hearing about the complications in general is very different than seeing a specific case.

I post this not to scare anyone off--just be *sure* about your decision, and good luck to all!
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Old 12-17-2005, 09:45 PM   #3
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I agree, it ISNT a magical cure if you dont change your eating habits and start eating healthier to begin with! There is NO MAGIC cure except that which comes from WITHIN each of us.
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Old 12-18-2005, 01:21 AM   #4
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Hubs, I am glad that you have stood up to give your side of things. I agree, it's not all peaches & cream, and there are people who have had serious complications including death after WLS. I think it's imperative people have a balanced view before making any decision like this, and I think that sometimes it means that people who've had bad experiences need to share them, so others can see the whole picture.

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Old 12-18-2005, 09:58 AM   #5
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I don't think there's anyone here that has ever tried to sugar-coat WLS. It's extremely dangerous and is a last resort, after the patient has worked with their doctor to exhaust all other options. The problem with that other thread was that the original poster felt she as being attacked for asking about it. I don't think that everyone realized that you can't just walk into a doctors office and ask for it. It takes a long time to be approved for it, after you've worked with a nutritionist, and even have a psychological evaluation. It's not a decision that comes lightly or easily.

Our hope is that everyone will be able to lose weight through diet and exercise. That's the whole purpose of this website. We've seen quite a few people post in our WLS forum asking for advice from people that have been through it, only to decide to give diet and exercise another chance, and we've all breathed a sigh of relief.

But for those who DO decide to go through with it, we try to provide a supportive environment, and that's what our WLS forum is all about. It wasn't created as a place to attack others for their choices, or even to debate the issue. It provides a closer look at what the wls patients actually go through and their struggles to maintain their health, which is helpful to anyone considering the surgery.

I was horrified when my sister said she was going to have gastric bypass surgery. I personally would never do it. My first instinct was to beg her not to do it, and to try to encourage her to try a new diet, etc. But I eventually realized that she knew what she was doing. She had done the research, discussed it with her doctor many times, and she felt this was the best option for her. What she didn't need was for me to chastise her, or accuse her of not realizing the seriousness of what she was doing. What she needed was for me to back her up and support her through the toughest thing she would ever do in her life. In my personal opinion, that is what the 3FC WLS forum should be about.
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Old 12-18-2005, 11:16 AM   #6
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Suzanne, let me first make clear you will NEVER hear me attack anyone for their decision to have WLS. You will NEVER hear me tell someone what they should or should not do.

You will hear sound information from me in the nature of nutritional support and in particular supplements because that is my profession and I'm capable of doing so in broad terms. You will hear me present information about metabolic issues such as insulin resistance because these DO impact weight loss efforts. And if anyone is ever interested I'll talk about what I've done to 'work' for me despite severe metabolic complications due to endocrine disturbances.

I've walked down this road for a long time Suzanne and presenting my personal story means sharing a nightmare and I don't apologize for that. My reaction is to the comment about nobody having regrets for having had WLS and that is simply not an accurate picture of the reality for many people. Surely presenting that perspective will not be seen as being argumentative or the basis of debate.

I believe most people do their best to research this option well before they climb on that table and things have changed in terms of procedure over the years. But many of the issues have not changed. One of the trends I see is that presentation of 'the facts' sounds much like pharmaceutical commercials on tv. Sure, they tell you 'risks may include blah blah blah' but it seldom weighted in what I feel is an appropriate way.

curvynfit, I didn't end up in a coma but the problems with open incisions and infection were certainly the case with me. The last surgery left me with a drainage bag for 3 months and the incision had to be opened over and over again (not just at the site of the incision, my whole abdominal wall from the umbilicus up and from side to side had to be broken up because of the pockets of infection that would accumulate). At some point I will talk about the other things that have happened mostly as a result of chronic malnutrition, such as my teeth literally crumbling in my mouth.
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Old 12-18-2005, 12:04 PM   #7
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My post was in response to what I assumed was a negative reaction to the fact that we closed the other thread because the posters (not all of them obviously) appeared to be trying to talk the OP out of wls and accusing her of not doing her research. We received complaints and concerns, so the thread was removed. I was attempting to say that we should be supportive and not abusive in those situations, which is an explanation of why that thread was removed. I was not accusing you of anything, and I'm sorry for the misunderstanding.

I absolutely agree that there are different outcomes and it's important to be aware of what can go wrong, and sharing those experiences are part of it. We appreciate the time you are taking to share your own experiences.
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Old 12-18-2005, 06:55 PM   #8
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Suzanne, thanks for clarifying that your intention was not to be silencing. I would like to comment further if I may.

I read that thread and this is what I 'heard'. I heard a woman talking about her frustration with having tried everything and 'nothing' working. This will also encompass my intended response to another thread here about doctor supervised weight loss programs and the intention of such a program. It is critical to assure that there is not in fact, a bonafide endocrine problem factoring in to obesity. This can cover a range of metabolic problems from hypothyroidism to insulin resistance to pituitary or adrenal tumour. It is critical to establish a baseline for success with any weight loss program which must, by definition, amount to less energy consumed than required to maintain body weight. In other words, we have to know if a person CAN lose weight. If a person cannot lose weight by following the protocol pre-op they certainly will not upon surviving wls.

But here's the problem. People so often want fast results when they are morbidly obese because they are so sick and tired of being fat that WLS looks like the fast track to finally getting rid of it once and for all. And for many, even perhaps most, it is a fast track. But of course we know speed should not be confused with ease. So its a catch 22 because some people feel that its a trap of sorts to go on a pre-surgery weight loss program and to be successful in fear that they will then be denied the surgery. That means the full responsibility for continued success lies on their shoulders and that has never worked before. The fear is that the guarantees of fast success that SEEM to come with WLS will be forfeited by any success in losing weight outside of WLS.

That is one set of problems.

I have never, ever heard anyone who says prior to the surgery that they are worried about their ability to follow the food plan after. I've never, ever heard anyone say they don't know if they'll be able to handle exercise and making good food choices consistently. Everyone is positive that they will be the success story and will not regain. Statistically it is more likely that they will regain, or fail to lose all they hope to. 80 pounds is the average, overall loss.

So what I'm trying to say here is that questioning a person saying they've tried everything is something that is very difficult to do sensitively and without it sounding like judgement. But truthfully, if 'everything' had been tried unsuccessfully the reality is that there would have to be a medical explanation for the failure. Or there was a fall down point in following the program(s) they had tried and its important to discover that fall down point whether or NOT they have WLS. The fall down point will be there no matter what.

And if there is a legitimate metabolic problem WLS will NOT be succesful without treating that issue first and foremost. Conversely, if it were treated then WLS may not be necessary.

When people who have not dealt with the reality of WLS or for whom WLS is not an option they would consider, its difficult to honestly address a question about making that choice without sounding judgmental. I understand that. But I don't believe that was the intention of people here. I believe the honest intention was to help someone explore why WLS may or may not be the best option and that means being willing to look beyond that wall of despair to what is going on in a very real way.

As your signature says, 'Studies show that all diets work, whether low carb, low fat, or low calorie, as long as you stick to them. Find the diet that fits your lifestyle and personal tastes, because that is the one you will stick to.' Simple, and perhaps this doesn't take into account insulin resistance issues and so forth, but essentially true.

I hope I've clarified my concerns.
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Old 12-18-2005, 07:05 PM   #9
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i am THRILLED to see this thread. most of the people who've posted here over the long haul have been those who had done extremely well. but as we say over and over and over again, huge amounts of research and questioning and self-analysis go into making the decision. and often the decision is NO!!!!!

this forum is a place for those who are exploring their options, as well as for those of us who have done it, with whatever outcome.

i've done amazingly well, and i consider myself lucky. but i also know of some very very very sad events - deaths, serious complications at surgery and years afterwards.

even if a person goes through this without phyiscal complications, the 'headwork' that has to happen is a constant battle. but in the face of complications, oh my. that's why hubs is turning into one of my idols. to have persisted in the face of these odds, and serious complications, is nothing short of a show of strength, dedication, and wisdom.

and hubs, suzanne was instrumental - essential, even - in getting this forum started, and she's been very supportive of us all. and she helps kick out those few people who DARE to be rude to us. [for some reason - luckily - that happens only rarely - like last week!]
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Old 12-18-2005, 07:09 PM   #10
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and a ps. some medical professionals believe that everyone who qualifies for the surgery has insulin resistance. in fact, i'm supposed to be following the GI diet [and generally do, but this weekend, with christmas baking, i've fallen off track - but it's over. i can do better with my very next meal].

i'm not sure if it's true. but it does indeed seem to be true for me. what about everyone else?????
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Old 12-18-2005, 08:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiffypop
even if a person goes through this without phyiscal complications, the 'headwork' that has to happen is a constant battle.

Yes! The headwork!!! You know, I've often said over the past years that even if you don't go INTO this surgery with food 'issues' you'll sure come out of it with them! And truly, there is no navigator's guide through so much of the turf you cover.

And as far as insulin resistance goes the research done into the orchestra of hormones involved in weight is very exciting. I am one who agrees that the drive of insulin resistance is a factor nearly always.
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Old 12-18-2005, 08:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hubs
This will also encompass my intended response to another thread here about doctor supervised weight loss programs and the intention of such a program.

So its a catch 22 because some people feel that its a trap of sorts to go on a pre-surgery weight loss program and to be successful in fear that they will then be denied the surgery. That means the full responsibility for continued success lies on their shoulders and that has never worked before. The fear is that the guarantees of fast success that SEEM to come with WLS will be forfeited by any success in losing weight outside of WLS.
Since I have been dragged into a thread in which I have not participated in any way I will repost a clarification that I posted in the orginal thread being referred to above.

Quote:
Just to clarify ...

I am not questioning why a doctor (or particularly a bariatric surgeon) would want to know about a person's diet history. I am fully cognizant of why a doctor would want that information in evaluating a patient's need and likely outcome with weight loss surgery.

I am questioning what the insurance company is looking for when they set ridiculously difficult standards for what does and does not constitute a "physician supervised diet". I am questioning the wisdom of decisions being made for real patients with real medical needs by a bean counter who may never have worked in a medical setting at all and whose entire education is in accounting or business management.

I am talking specifically again about insurance companies putting up ridiculously impossible hurdles. Not doctors.

In fact the sugical practice I have chosen to work with is extremely conservative in both their patient selection criteria and their after care regimen. It is one of the reasons I chose them.

But again - I was not talking about my doctor but about my insurance company.

Both the psychologist and the surgical group are looking at a totality of one's health, weight and diet history. They consider any notation of diet attempts and consultation with a primary care physcian. Whereas my insurance company requires 6 months of monthly visits to a physician, meetings with a nutritionist and documented behavioural therapy.

The insurance company is requiring far more to qualify as compliance than any doctor I have ever met has required, suggested or prescribed. Including a bariatric physician whose entire practice is the non-surgical treatment of obesity. Who I saw for nearly a year with mixed success.

This particular insurance company has a reputation among both patients and physician's offices for setting compliance standards that are difficult if not impossible to meet.

So my question was strictly - What is the insurance company looking for in regard to their 6 month physician supervised diet requirement. Not what is the doctor's office looking for.

Which in no way reflects my attitude toward compliance with any physician order or my ability to comply with those orders.
Additionally - I am not looking for a "quick fix". Nor do I think that a pre-operative diet is a "trap". I was simply thinking aloud of the potential reasons an insurance company could have for having what I (and doctors I know) consider to be impossibly high compliance standards (including denying that a diet was consistently physician supervised because the visits were not "monthly" due to a 6 week gap between supervision appointments).

For your information, hubs, wether I have surgery, take drugs, do South Beach, the grapefruit diet, become vegan or choose to vomit after every meal my success or failure at weight loss will be, as everything in my life, my full responsibility. The weight of every decision I have ever made in my life and my success or failure at whatever I try rests squarely on my shoulders. It always has and it always will.

I am not "afraid" of anything that you have suggested in your post. Nor do I believe that success is "fast". In fact, I am choosing adjustable laproscopic banding because I want another tool in my aresenal when I try this again. Not because I want a magic pill, a quick fix or the easy way.

I asked a question. I pondered some possibilities. Why? Because I didn't know and I wanted to be informed.

Go back and reread my post. I said that I don't expect this supervised diet to be any different from those in the past (again including one supervised by a bariatric physician who specializes in the non-surgical treatment of obesity). I said that I will give it my all and do whatever my doctors suggest.

I also questioned what the insurance company is looking for. And I most definitely questioned the motives of the insurance company in their requirements because I do not believe that the best interests of the patient are ever at the top of the list of the insurance companies' motives or considerations.

So before you drag me into your little rant about people who didn't do their homework, have unrealistic expectations or are ill-prepared you should actually read what I wrote.
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Old 12-18-2005, 08:33 PM   #13
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Relax VM. I was not attacking you, or ranting about you, or even talking about people not doing their homework. You've taken my intentions very much out of context.

And for the record, this thread is about ME. MY regrets. Not you. You raised some very important questions and I believe the interest you've received is well intentioned for the most part.
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Old 12-18-2005, 08:46 PM   #14
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I fully hope that perhaps Hubs will share her story with this forum because it is one that needs to be told. Hubs is a very dear friend of mine, who, despite her difficulties with WLS (an understatement I know) has been nothing but supportive of me and has helped me get through some nutritional challenges. She has a wealth of knowledge in that area and even though I am just a "newbie," I believe her to be a great asset to this forum.

I'm so glad this place exists. I love OH, too, but it can be a bit overwhelming. This place, for me, is just the right size.
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Old 12-18-2005, 08:58 PM   #15
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You've helped me find my voice in so many ways my friend. I'm eternally grateful.
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