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

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Old 07-12-2008, 06:16 PM   #1  
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Default (SAGB) Weight Loss Surgery Nearly Killed Me!

Hi everyone, I am new to 3FC but have some experience in the surgery area I thought I would share for those of you considering these procedures. My name is Don and my story is probably not too dissimilar from any of you who have struggled with weight loss. I was always the "big kid" or "fat kid" in school. I joined the Army in 1991 and was discahrged in 1995 for being overweight. By 1998 I was a staggering 380 pounds. With the combination of sleep apnea, chronic low back pain and a crippling gastro intestinal disorder I opted to lose weight rather than purchase the "C-Pap" machine to aid my night time breathing. Through shear will power and near starvation I got down to a thin 220 pounds. (I am 6'2 and have a fairly large frame so 220 is thin for me) With no knowledge of nutrition it did not take long to start putting the weight back on. By the time I reached about 260 pounds I told my wife that I had had enough of the yo-yo games and needed a "permanent fix". The gastric band seemed the best option as it was reversable, if needed, less expensive and far less invasive. In 2003 I had the Swedish Adustable Gastric Band (SAGB) placed laproscopically. Things seemed fine for the first 6 months until I had my first "episode" as my local baritric surgeon called it. I suffered a total and unexplainable blockage. I felt a terrible cramping in my stomach and about every 15-20 minutes I would vomit up my own saliva. After nearly 6 hours my wife took her very thirsty husband to the emergency room where I was admitted overnight, placed on pain medicine, steroids and hydrated with IV solutions. Initially we thought it was a freak occurance until the same thing happend 6 months later. This time I did not wait as long to go to the doctor but the unexplainable condition still eluded my surgeon and the treatment was again the same. I suffered this way for over 2 years with 4 similar episodes. It would take me, on average, over 2 hours to eat a bowl of soup. My tounge had turned a permant yellow and my general practicioner doctor was researching expensive vitamin shots to get me the necessary vitamins and minerals that she suspected I was missing as I was unable to even swallow pills. Finally, with much hesitation I opted to have my band removed. My Surgeon warned me that a reversal of this procdedure, while necessary, would ensure me a weight of 300 pounds by Christmas. I was currently at my goal weight (although extremely miserable and hungry) of 225 pounds. He said that reversal patients have no idea how powerful these procedures could be until they are reversed but I had no option and had delayed as long as possible. I scheduled what was supposed to be a quick 1 hour laproscopic day procedure and forked over thousands of more dollars to the surgeons, anesthesioligists, and hospital. I woke up after 4 hours with a 7 inch diagonal slash across my abdomin full of staples. When the surgeons went in laproscopically, (small tubes and camera) they could not even find my gastric band!!! They were forced to cut me open and to their amazement, it had been completely encapsulated with scar tissue. Apparently, my own body had been systematically attacking this foreign object with scar tissue which had been causing all of the issues over the years. They had to spend hours hacking away tissue just to remove the band. In the process they nicked my spleen and I almost died on the table. I was released from the hospital 4 days later on Thanksgiving day 2006 feeling a bit like frankenstein with my gigantic row of staples but finally able to eat again. 3 days later I had a post op complication that literally sent blood squirting all over my bed and my wife and put me back in the hospital, back in the OR and under the knife once again. A broken blood vessel had caused the golf ball sized swelling to tear through my staples and give my a ride in the ambulance.

I share this story because I am now a reformed surgery survivor. I believe that the "tools" are available for you to achieve your desired weights and/or measurements WITHOUT surgery. Today I am at 235 pounds and aobut 15 pounds and 6% body fat away from reaching my goal.

As my first post here I will stop but please share with me your feedback if you have had similar or better exsperiences than I regarding surgeries.
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Old 07-12-2008, 06:21 PM   #2  
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Wow, what an experience you had! I am so glad you are healing. I wish you continued success and wellness. Welcome to 3FC!
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Old 07-12-2008, 06:48 PM   #3  
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Thanks for sharing your story.
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Old 07-12-2008, 07:13 PM   #4  
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Sorry your doctors did that to you. Where did you have this done?
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Old 07-12-2008, 08:07 PM   #5  
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YOWSER! In all that, did they ever do any imaging like CT scans or Xrays to see what was going on?

Congratulations on your weight loss and your determination to make it work!

I'm still working on insurance approval for a lapband. I've had several abdominal surgeries before and things went well, except for a blood clot in the leg after the last one. Knowing that now, hopefully we can avoid it again. Otherwise I'd be very, very anxious about surgery instead of just anxious. We just never know what our bodies are going to decide to do, do we?
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Old 07-12-2008, 08:53 PM   #6  
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I had a friend who had gastric bypass on Feb 14th, 2000. She had tried many many diets, and didn't seem to have the will to stick with them.With gastric bypass, she lost nearly 100 pounds by January 2001. She had horrible stomach pain starting in December 2000, and her Dr (not surgeon, normal GP) said it was constipation. Well, she was horribly embarrassed by that, so although the pain came and went, she did not go back. January 1st 2001, she felt HORRIBLE. She laid low most of the day, and finally went to the hospital in the middle of the night. Her vitals were horrible, so they did exploratoty surgery. They found ~5 liters of bile in her abdomen. The scar tissue had worked a whole into her stomach, and she was leaking bile into system. Her body went into septic shock, and she died either the 2nd or 3rd (sadly I don't remember anymore). I am morbidly obese, but I think I can't do surgery. I need to focus and be more healthy. Just thought I would share the story that still haunts me a bit, as she was my best friend who died at the age of 28 yrs old.
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Old 07-12-2008, 08:56 PM   #7  
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Realist, I am so sorry that happened to your friend.
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Old 07-12-2008, 09:17 PM   #8  
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Thanks to both of you for sharing your stories. It's important to hear all sides when considering surgery. My experience has been totally opposite. I know that surgery has saved my life. I had tried my whole life to control my weight through diets to no avail. It finally came to the point where I knew the fat was going to kill me, I already had mounting health problems. I realized that my chances of surviving with the surgery were much greater than surviving without it. To me it was worth the small risk to have a chance at a better and longer life. Every surgery has risks and I was willing to accept them in this instance. It is up to each person to weigh the risks and make their own informed decision.

Best of luck to you.

shrinkingpamelalala

Last edited by tropigal; 07-12-2008 at 09:17 PM. Reason: correction
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Old 07-12-2008, 09:25 PM   #9  
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WOW Tropigal, you've lost almost 100 pounds!
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Old 07-12-2008, 11:56 PM   #10  
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One problem is, that you have to know what the risks are before you can make an informed decision. In some areas, that information isn't as easy to get as you'd think. For myself, I had one doctor (my gp) dead set against the surgery because of the complications he has seen, and I saw one doctor who was so for it, that he dismissed all of my concerns without addressing them (luckily, I had done a fair amount of research on my own).

The pro surgery doctor was a rheumatologist I was referred to for my fibromyalgia and my autoimmune issue (because of damage to the cartilage in my nose, with no known cause, I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease, initially Wegener's granulomatosis, but that was later ruled out, as the progression of the damage has been atypical. Regardless, I have autoimmune connective tissue disease of some sort).

Well, I won't consider gastric bypass because I am WAY too prone to staph infections and vitamin and mineral deficiencies as it is. This didn't make Dr. Rheumatologist very happy. He told me that WLS, gastric bypass in particular, is the ONLY way that I am going to lose the weight (mind you this is the first day I met him). I also brought up my concern about the lap band with the autoimmune disease (the manufacturer of the lapband says it's a nono). Well the doctor said that there was "no proof" that I had an autoimmune disease (and he didn't intend to run any tests until AFTER I had lost 100 lbs), and besides that he wasn't concerned with any additional risk (WELL I AM).

I know my body, and I know that I have a problem with inflammation and healing (extra scar tissue forming). It's very likely that I would have complications, so I'm not willing to take the risks. But, I'll tell you it was hard trying to find out those risks. I still don't have any hard numbers to go on, just that the underestimated numbers I could get are too high for me. I still resent that doctors refusal to deal with me at all unless I underwent a surgery I wasn't comfortable having.

Doctors bring their own biases, and this doctor obviously felt that any risk was acceptable to a person as fat as I (Sorry, but as the patient I get to make that decision). If I didn't already KNOW the risks going in, he would have had me convinced that the procedure was as safe as a pedicure. One thing that is known, is that it is still one of the riskiest elective surgeries.

Now, I'm hoping that the actual local surgeon would not be so cavalier, but I've talked to a few people who've had the surgery. Some with success and some with complications, and I've learned that there is a LOT of variation between how well the patients were prepared for the surgery. I was shocked.

I'm not trying to talk anyone out of the surgery, but I do believe in informed consent. A good surgeon is going to make sure you not only know what could happen, but how likely each of the consequences are are given your individual medical history.

Many areas have bariatric surgery support groups, and people considering surgery are welcome. I strongly encourage anyone considering the surgery to attend such a group even before making an appointment with a surgeon. You'll get to hear who the really good surgeons are, and who may not be. You'll get to hear about peoples' complications and how they dealt with them...

I once heard someone say that she was so glad that she didn't know the risks before she had the surgery, and that if people knew the risks, no one would have the surgery.

I don't believe that is true. I believe that only people who DO know the risks, should be having the surgery.
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Old 07-13-2008, 12:18 AM   #11  
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I listened carefully to stories like these before surgery, they were a dose of reality among the claims of "life is perfect when...." that you hear in the lapband commercials. The stories of the possible consequences made me realize the soberness of my decision, the reality of complications or even a sad outcome and the desperation I had reached when I finally had the RNY.

I feel for you, Realist and the family of your friend, my heart goes out to you.

I am glad that you, akdrummer made it through your own personal tornado and are here fighting the good fight...you are an inspiration to all who read your story whether they have had, will have or will never have WLS. Thank you for sharing.

I've had a good experience so far and I hold myself lucky.

Angela

Last edited by missangelaks; 07-13-2008 at 01:55 AM.
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Old 07-13-2008, 07:11 AM   #12  
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WLS or any type of surgery for that matter is a gamble, the risks, the doctors, the hospital, etc. People must realize that for the 1 person who had a bad experience, there are hundreds that had good experiences. We all realize that we could have been that 1 in 200.

AK sorry that happened to you but I'm glad your fighting this and succeeding on your own.

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Old 07-13-2008, 07:40 AM   #13  
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A colleague at work had a similar experience to the OP where scar tissue grew over the band and blocked the transit to the stomach. She also had it removed but elected to have a gastric bypass in its place. I'm pleased to say the bypass has been a success, although she is still not satisfied with the results, but that's a whole other story.

Kitty
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Old 07-13-2008, 12:24 PM   #14  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulBliss View Post
WOW Tropigal, you've lost almost 100 pounds!
Thanks for noticing, SoulBliss! I'm loving my vsg!

ShrinkingPamelalala
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Old 07-13-2008, 12:45 PM   #15  
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Here's my whole problem with the concept of weight loss surgery.

I have a couple of friends who have had it done. I looked into it myself when I was at my heaviest weight. Even the doctors who gave me the best information (as much as or more than the research I had done myself) gave me NO NUTRITION INFORMATION whatsoever. So after surgery, I would have been in a position where I"d have to eat much smaller meals, often be struggling to get the full amount of the proper nutrients, and yet no one said to me "after this you have to eat nutrient rich foods and balance your diet". Everyone acted like if I just ate *less* ... it would all be ok.

I also know that 2 of my friends who had WLS eventually gained back all the weight they lost in large part because - as an example, they thought it was ok to have a hamburger from McDonalds for a meal (a kids size) rather than the double 1/4 with cheese that they used to have. It was a "small meal" which fit in with the volume guildelines they were given ... and so that's what they ate. They still never ate veggies. They still ate fatty fried meats -just less of them. It was scary. And any time I said anything they laughed at me and said I didn't understand.

I also know that none of them exercised at all. Ever.

I believe very seriously that anyone who is going to have weight loss surgery should be REQUIRED to have at least 3-6 months of counseling and nutrition and exercise education.

Then, after that, if you feel that surgery is the only method for you, then you at least have the knowledge of how to eat properly afterwords to help.

.
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