Weight Loss Surgery

Weight is always a tricky subject. When you talk about your efforts to lose weight, other people’s responses range from the kind-hearted but “yeah right” reaction of “You don’t need to lose weight!” to the “I have a product that will change your life!” to the “Have you considered gastric bypass?” As this little blog has grown, I’ve become less ashamed of telling people I want and need to lose weight, because hell, I write about it several times a week. I’m not embarrassed anymore. My weight is a big problem, and it’s a big problem that is not exclusive to just me. America is getting fatter, and the more we act ashamed and embarrassed, the less we’re thinking forward in terms of action. Fat happens. It sucks. Let’s try to fix it, you know?

When someone used to whisper to me that they had gastric bypass, I’d always think, “Oh, wow. Good for you!”. Usually, these people are now super healthy and average weight, and I would have never known they’d had anything done other than them telling me. Back when my weight problem was more one of overeating and underactivity, I’d brush off weight loss surgery, thinking ‘Naaah, I don’t need that. I just need to try harder.” I even asked a doctor at one point, and he told me I was in a gray area, where I wasn’t *quite* heavy enough to need it. Back then, I thought weight loss surgery was the lazy person’s solution – get your stomach stapled, eat all ya want, lose weight. I now know that that was a very naive assumption. I’ve been lucky enough to make friends in the bariatric blog community, and I’ve even been added to some of their private groups. I know now, from these women and men, that weight loss surgery is NOT the easy way out. You still need to lose weight before you get the surgery, and then before the actual procedure, there’s physical and mental counseling. After, it’s all about portion control, vitamins, protein, reducing junk or suffering extreme side effects. And once you get past the physical baggage of extreme weight loss, there’s the mental side of things. Loose skin, new clothes, jealousy, dealing with overeating, etc.

I used to think weight loss surgery wasn’t an option for me, because I always wanted to do things the “natural” way, aka, not having somebody carve into me with a knife. However, as my weight has steadily crept up despite my improved habits, and especially now, knowing what I do about the conditions making my weight loss goals feel damn near impossible, I’m going to admit that the idea of weight loss surgery has crept into my head more than once. The reactions around me are mixed. Some of my family members don’t like the idea, for the obvious reason of it being a major surgery that can have profound negative side effects. Some of my friends are nonchalant, saying they want me to do whatever makes me happy. Some of my friends are downright against it, one who even reads this blog, who recently schooled me on how me getting weight loss surgery just didn’t match the whole tone and concept of this blog. I have a follow-up appointment with a new doctor tomorrow, and I’m dreading stepping on the scale. I’ve been eating well, exercising and on my new medication, but I’m so afraid the scale will do what it did last time – show a gain. I asked my doctor about weight loss surgery last time I saw her, and she said we consider that when no eating plan is working. I’m guessing if I haven’t seen results tomorrow, I’ll move from a low-carb diet to a no-carb diet. But then, if that doesn’t work, what’s next? I’m not saying I want to, but I am saying I’m giving it some thought.

Tell me what you think about weight loss surgery. Do you know about the different types? Do you know anybody with success stories, or horror stories? I know several people who have both, but for privacy reasons, I’m not going to link them here. What do you think?


12 thoughts on “Weight Loss Surgery

  1. Have you read Jen Larsen’s book _Stranger Here_? It’s a good, honest account of what the surgery is really like. I think it gives both sides.

    I would personally be very scared to have surgery for any reason, any kind. But I think everyone has to make up her own mind, considering all the risks and benefits.

  2. I was a 58 year old woman in 2009 when I had RNY gastric bypass. 4 years later I am down almost 200 pounds and I can honestly say the surgery saved my life. Without surgery I would not have had female gyn exams as I was too afraid to go to the Dr. My Dr. Found endrometrial cancer which was removed and I took that opportunity to have a tummy tuck! At 64 years old my body isn’t beautiful but I feel Awesome every day. This is not the easy way out and no one can make the decision but you. Good luck!!

  3. First, I love you and I wouldn’t say I’m nonchalant, but I think you should do whatever you feel is best for you. As long as you’re making a fully educated decision about whatever you do, then I support you. I just want you to be happy :)

    And obviously, if you choose the surgery route, get a few opinions from different doctors before anyone slices and dices you!

    In the end, do what you think is best for your happiness and health. Why? Because I want a happy, healthy pinguino!!! xoxo

  4. I had lapband surgery in 2010. I know exactly where you’re coming from.
    I regret mine everyday. It didn’t work for me. I lost about 25lbs and most of that was in the first two weeks when you can’t eat anything. I’ve tried a ton of programs since and some have worked and some haven’t. I’ve lost about 40lbs on my own since my surgery without the help of my band. I suffer from it everyday though. It’s hard to eat even when I’m eating healthy food. I throw up almost everyday. My family and friends are so used to me leaving the table in the middle of a meal because my food is “stuck”. I’m not positive why it didn’t work for me but my idea is that my food habits weren’t bad enough. I know how to eat healthy and make healthy choices. I can binge eat on a bad day like the rest of them but that isn’t my daily life and the people I know that have had success were constant binge eaters and always ate huge portions. This is just my opinion based on me and a few people I know. I could be totally wrong. I’ve finally found a program that fits me great and has been working and my band is still getting in the way. Plus the scar tissue around the port site that sticks out above my belly button get more and more embarrassing the more weight I lose. This is a little all over the place since I just woke up but I wanted to share my experience. If you have any questions, absolutely email me.

    • In 2009, at age 55, I had the RNY surgery. My weight was in that “gray” area, but I was on an insulin pump, which made me a candidate for the surgery. I, like Rebecca, have lost very little weight following the surgery, and still can only eat maybe a 1/2 cup full at a time and remain comfortable. I used to sing the praises of the surgery, saying at least it got me off insulin, but I still have to take 2 oral medications for my diabetes, and still struggle with my weight every day. I say used to because the surgeon who did my surgery, and the endocrinologist that I see now both tell me I never should have been put on insulin in the first place! Like most people with type II diabetes, my body was making plenty of insulin, it just didn’t know what to do with it. The oral medications that I am now taking, do a wonderful job of controlling my diabetes. My parathyroid hormone (regulates calcium and vit D) levels have been extremely high, even though my calcium and vitamin D levels are normal. It was never checked before surgery, so who knows, maybe its always been high. My thyroid levels have been low ever since surgery. I lost more than half my hair, and it never came back (even taking all the required vitamins and supplements, and eating more than enough protein). I have since become disabled and suffer daily from muscle and nerve pain. I’ve developed stomach ulcers that keep coming back. The hair loss, joint pain, and ulcers could be from the hyperparathyroidism, but I can’t seem to find a doctor who knows how to treat it. I will say this for the surgery, my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are normal, but, would I still have the surgery if I had it to do over again? Not the RNY. If I HAD to do it over again, I would opt for the lapband.

  5. I say do what it takes to get to where you need to be. I know you won’t just jump into anything major like that. You will do lots and lots and lots of research and follow doctors orders. I do not judge surgery, especially if it is beneficial to your overall health and happiness.

    I don’t know anyone personally but have heard second-hand of one success story and one not-so-successful story. One person got the surgery, followed the plan and is doing great. The other needed to go back for a second surgery, never went, and continued her bad eating habits. She now has a small upper body and much larger lower body. Again this is second-hand and I’ve never seen either of these post surgery. I barely met these women once many years ago.

  6. I can’t remember if you knew this about me, but that was how I lost my weight. I was 16, and I knew I couldn’t go to college and live the life I wanted at 250 lbs. It is tough, and statistics show that a lot of people gain the weight back. I, however, accepted that it was not a magic trick. It has required lots of time and careful eating decisions to know what I can and can’t eat. It also did a number on me emotionally and socially, taking me a while to feel like I fit in my body. Sometimes, I still don’t. And I highly recommend considering it a two-surgery process.

    There’s almost nothing more frustrating than the happiness and relief of shedding all the weight only to discover that now you don’t fit in your own skin. People know what to think of overweight people, but they seem to be equally if not more put off by flabby ones.

    So a couple things — use it as a last resort. Know that you will spend your whole life focusing on vitamin intake and foods that help your stomach feel OK. You will spend the first year pretty much unable to make it a week or even a couple days without getting sick. (Good news is the sickness usually passes quickly and then you go back to your day).

    You will have people judge you. Although I can only hope that these days the judgment isn’t as bad as it was in 2001. And you’re an adult who knows herself, so I can only imagine you’d handle it better than I did at 16.

    You will have to work just as hard as you are now to plan meals that don’t screw up your system. (For example, I can’t touch beans or broccoli on an empty stomach, if at all.)

    It sounds like we need to have a conversation anyway, based on your FB message ;) So maybe we should just do lunch.

  7. Personally, wls was not the path for me. I don’t think it is the easy or hard option. It just wasn’t the right option for me. I knew my weight was more than just eating and wanted to make sure I changed and grew and healed from the process (I am still doing all three) and was afraid that the surgery wouldn’t allow me to tranform in the manner I wanted. I know it sounds hookie but I just thought the surgery would be too restricitve. I would be too miserable. And yes, I was scared that in the end I wouldn’t feel proud of my decision. But that is what it was, my decision. We are all different and I don’t judge anyone for their choices. I certainly won’t judge you- no matter what you decide.

  8. It’s incredible to hear your thoughts about this topic, Alyssa. My friend had gastric bypass, but ended up gaining about 40% back. She also shared stories of having food “stick” and getting sick. I also will be featuring Jill on my blog next week, who feels that surgery saved her life.
    I was at the gray area at my highest weight as well- didn’t quite make it to 300. But, surgery wasn’t an option for me. I’m glad I lost with more traditional methods.
    Best of luck to you. Let your instincts guide you!

  9. I’ve had several friends who were successful with the surgery and know bloggers who have lost weight with their surgery but suffer from lots of unpleasant side effects. For me, I knew that my binge eating and lack of exercise were down to my depression and that untreated mental illness can’t be solved with surgery. For you, this should be a decision between you, your doctor, and your family (since it will affect all of them, too) – do what is right for you and to heck with anyone who wants to judge you for that!

  10. I had weight loss surgery over three years ago. Best decision I ever made. I lost almost 200 pounds. I’m not at my goal weight and every day is a fight – the same fight you fight every day. However, I’m much healthier than I was three years ago and it allowed me to have my son. It’s not for everyone and it’s not the “easy way out.” If you’re seriously considering it, you may want to check out obesityhelp.com. I spent a lot of time there pre and post-op and I learned a lot.

  11. Honestly, I don’t know anything about weight loss surgery. But I do know that you’re not going to go anything without carefully doing your research. Only you know what is right for you, despite what anyone else might think. ;)

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