General Question

seekingwolf's avatar

Anyone had weight loss surgery?

Asked by seekingwolf (10402points) April 23rd, 2013

I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time, mostly due to a metabolic/hormonal problem I have (as well as insulin resistance, ick) but I admit that some bad past habits have contributed. Despite doing my best to eliminate them and restrict calories and carbs with diets by my doctor, I am unable to make real progress.

I’m 23 and I weigh almost 300 lb now. It sucks. Health wise, I feel poor. My stamina is not good like it used to be and I’m starting to have GERD.

I’m getting weight loss surgery done this summer. I have one more consult to finish and then I’ll be approved for insurance. I’ll be getting the sleeve. It just involves making your stomach into a sleeve, no intestinal bypass.

Wondering if anyone had a weight loss surgery and how they have improved their health.

Looking forward to being able to able to make some real progress. It will be a lot of work but I’m ready.

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54 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Let me send this to someone who had the surgery. They seemed pretty happy with the results.

janbb's avatar

I know pdworkin who used to be here had bypass surgery and was very pleased by the results. He lost more than half his weight and kept it off. He did eat carefully though.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I haven’t, but I used to work with a girl that had the lap band. She had gotten it two years before I met her and had lost over 100 lbs.

The issue she had was that her weight plateaued and she stopped losing. If they added more fluid to the band, she’d vomit up whatever she ate or drank, so she was constantly dehydrated. She would go back and forth (fluid in, fluid out, etc) every week or so hoping to find the point where she could still eat without puking but would also lose weight. She was pretty miserable at that time. I saw her recently and she still looked pretty much the same as she did 5 years ago, so I’m not sure if she was ever able to break the plateau.

I always felt so bad for her sitting in the break room watching everyone eat while she could only have the tiniest amount of food or water. She was a diabetic as well.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

A few years ago, my brother-in-law had the sleeve procedure.

He’d been at least 250 lbs/115 kg overweight for a long time, with his size increasing steadily. His obesity was 100% exogenous; he’d tried, many times but always unsucessfully, to diet and exercise. He knew that he wouldn’t survive his 40s unless he made some changes.

He had the sleeve procedure, and with excellent results. He lost the weight and hasn’t gained it back. He’s now slender and fit.

Even though things worked out for BIL, this surgery is a desperate, last-effort resort. The procedure was very traumatic, and BIL had a long, painful recovery. It also caused gall bladder and liver complications that required two additional surgeries. I wouldn’t recommend this route unless someone’s facing a life-and-death situation.

Judi's avatar

The only person I’ve known who was successful also radically changed her activity level and increased her vegetable consumption.

poofandmook's avatar

I had gastric bypass on March 13. I wasn’t quite prepared for how difficult it would be to break my previous ties with food. But, I’ve lost 40lbs and gone down 2 dress sizes since March 6 (the day I started my pre-op liquid diet). People are noticing. I’m learning what I can and can’t eat, how to chew thoroughly to avoid blockage (as I no longer have a pyloric valve), and how to drink without gulping.

I have said multiple times that I won’t “believe” it’s working until I’m under 200lbs… Something I don’t even know the last time I was.

All I can say is that everyone’s WLS journey is different. Listen to and follow your doctor’s instructions. Listen to your body. And be patient. Not everyone loses at the same rate.

It’s hard work. As long as you understand that WLS, for most people, is harder than diet and exercise… And you’re ready to accept the challenge, you’ll be good!

poofandmook's avatar

@judi – I’m not sure about sleeve, but I know for bypass, we can’t afford to “waste” out limited pouch room with vegetables for a while. Until we can easily meet our daily protein requirement, almost every morsel we consume must be protein.

Also vegetables are very tricky, as lots are fibrous and can cause serious issues, even well cooked.

poofandmook's avatar

@sadie – WLS surgery is in NO WAY desperate. It is a life choice. It can be traumatic, but everyone is different fighting a losing battle with the scale.

NOBODY who has not had WLS is in any real position to advise anyone. That’s the reason why. You could scare this person out of changing, and saving his/her life. Or wasting it feeling sick and miserable.

poofandmook's avatar

At 23 the chances of the same complications as a man in his 40s are slim.

Judi's avatar

The girl I know ended up becoming a health educator. She was probably a year or so in before she got to 5 cups of veggies a day.

augustlan's avatar

Both my mother and my ex-mother-in-law had the surgery. It was very successful for both of them as far as weight loss goes, but the MIL had much more difficulty with it. She had to have additional surgery later to correct the issue (I can’t remember exactly what happened now, it was a long time ago). While it certainly shouldn’t be the first choice for someone trying to lose weight, it can be a lifesaver when called for.

jca's avatar

I had the sleeve gastrectomy in 2011 and it was like a miracle. Let me tell you a MIRACLE. I lost 80 lbs within 6 months and a total of about 120 so far. I had a great surgeon, a great recovery, a painless recovery and I am thrilled with the results. I got a life back that I did not have. I have answered similar questions on other threads. I will try to find them so I can link – it’s too much detail to answer now because I am at work.

I could PM you photos of myself – anybody here who is friends with me can see my photo before and at present. A MIRACLE…...

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@jca Congratulations! You’re a whole new, healthy person now, and that’s a wonderful thing.

JLeslie's avatar

I hate to be negative, but just want to put in a reminder that there are risks with the surgery. I am not against the surgery, because I know there are risks if you don’t lose the weight. I just want to make sure you are aware. My exboyfriend’s cousin’s died, she was just in her 20’s. The surgery is probably safer now than when she had it done, which was about 15 years ago I think, I lose track of time.

Judi's avatar

@JLeslie, the lap band is way safer than bypass surgery.

poofandmook's avatar

@JLeslie: According to my surgeon, the procedures have come lightyears in just the last 10–15 years. 15 years ago they were not typically done laparoscopically, whereas today, they are rarely done any other way. There can still be complications, as with the most minor of surgeries, but a GREAT deal of that depends on your surgeon, and your own discipline before and after the surgery.

The best advice I can offer there is to do your research on surgeons.

@Judi: According to a study published on Reuters, the difference in post-surgical complications is minimal—only about 3%.

poofandmook's avatar

Also, it’s worth noting that while 3% more patients had complications post-op with bypass rather than lap band, there were a percentage of lap band patients that required further surgeries.

Furthermore, lap band is not recommended for people as overweight as I was, and as @seekingwolf is. Typical weight loss is only 36% with lap band, while gastric bypass typical loss is 64%. For someone who was my weight, or @seekingwolf‘s weight, lap band is pretty useless. Also, lap band does not have nearly the same success rate in curing co-morbidities such as diabetes.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi I’ve heard that, it makes sense. I would make the same comment about cosmetic surgery. Many people seem to do surgery thinking nothing can go wrong. I think people should have all the information.

jca's avatar

I think that post-surgically, the people who have lap band have more complications than people with the bypass or sleeve. I know that of the people that I know personally that had the various surgeries, the one with the lap band had complications plus did not do as well as the ones that had bypass or sleeve.

Since 15 years ago, @JLeslie, all 3 types of weight loss surgery are so common and it’s been “perfected” (as much as surgery can be perfected) so that what happened with your friend 15 years ago I would think would not even apply now.

gambitking's avatar

My mother in law and wife have both had Bariatric surgery with amazing results. They both did the gastric bypass. Of course you know the main difference is that the sleeve is reversible while the bypass is not.

This operation was a life-changing event for them. Not only does my wife enjoy a much healthier life, a huge boost in confidence and has escaped many other troublesome ailments that went along with obesity, she was able to get pregnant whereas before the operation, she was unable to despite years of trying.

Also, weight loss surgery cures diabetes. How awesome is that?

There are drawbacks. With the sleeve especially, you can have complications with slippage, but of course it’s a risk you probably already are aware of. Also you have to change your diet dramatically, and will need to take vitamins and other supplements for proper nutrition. Things like carbonated drinks and sugary snacks will be largely forbidden. (Enjoy them while you can!!)

Here’s one big huge important draw back that does not get enough attention, but it needs to be known: Post-bariatric patients are more prone to alcoholism. Even if they never drank much before. It’s crazy, really, but you’ll find if you research this subject online that a lot of physicians are talking about it.

Alcohol becomes much more potent on bariatric patients, and it is much easier to fall into an addictive cycle with it if it becomes habitual. Just remember, if you drink socially, or especially on a somewhat regular basis, really watch yourself with alcohol after the surgery. It’ll really just come out of no where, so it’s important to be vigilant.

poofandmook's avatar

@gambitking: REALLY. In all the months I spent researching this for my own procedure, I never saw anything about an increase in alcoholism. In fact, in the weight loss surgery forum I’m on, most people say that while the alcohol hits hard and fast, it no longer has that fuzzy, warm, pleasant feeling. It’s a sickly feeling.

Also, did you mean that lap band has risk of slippage? Because there’s nothing to slip in the sleeve procedure.

JLeslie's avatar

@poofandmook I saw a show on TV, it might have been Oprah, where it said there is a high percentage of people who have weight loss surgery that wind up with some other addiction afterwards like alcoholism. When I say high I don’t mean the majority, I only mean it is big enough to take notice. I think it was around 20%? I wish I could remember better. They talked about the old addiction, food, being taken away and so a new addiction was substituted.

poofandmook's avatar

@JLeslie: Interesting. Maybe I missed that because I Googled specifics, and addiction wasn’t one of them.

jca's avatar

@gambitking: I don’t believe the sleeve is reversible.

The lap band is reversible.

I may be incorrect about the sleeve but I’ve been to the seminar about six times, as I speak at it to pass on my experience to prospective patients, and so each time I have to sit through the learning part, and I have not yet heard that it’s reversible.

In reading your post further, I think you are calling the lap band the sleeve because you refer to “slippage.” The sleeve is essentially a stomach stapling. The lap band has slippage due to the band slipping when people overeat. The lap band is reversible, the sleeve is not.

poofandmook's avatar

@jca: In doing more searching it seems that they do remove the extra stomach, making it irreversible… whereas with bypass, it just sorta hangs out there… though still not reversible.

gambitking's avatar

@jca – ah yes, the lap band, not the sleeve. Sorry about that. Only Lap Band is reversible

And regarding alcohol, yes it packs a punch and you skip straight over “tipsy” to drunk. But the tolerance builds exceptionally fast, and the potency becomes a compulsive draw. And let me just say I speak of addiction only in the sense of alcohol addiction. I’ve watched this happen to friends who were not drinkers before weight loss surgery. Take it for what it’s worth, it is indeed a risk.

seekingwolf's avatar

Thanks for the advice everyone.

I actually have looked at the possibility of surgery since 2010. I would never get the lap band. Ever. The success rates aren’t good and it doesn’t help with hunger at all. Slippage rates are bad as well. So nope, not for me.

I’m very aware of the risks. I’m going to get sick for sure if I wait though. I don’t see the point in waiting anymore. I’m glad I’m not really into soda. I can do without carbonation.

The alcohol issue is an issue, yes. But it has little to do with the surgery. Many people who get to this weight are addicted to food. So when they can’t binge on good, some will turn to alcohol. Or smoking. Or gambling.

poofandmook's avatar

@seekingwolf: if it makes you feel any better, I had a wicked, wicked food addiction. I am off Mondays while my fiance works, and nothing delighted me more than going out, getting a whole bunch of food, and eating it all so he wouldn’t know I’d done it. I was baaaaaad.

And I haven’t turned to anything else. I feel like if I can do it, anyone can. I was BAD. lol I can’t emphasize that enough!

seekingwolf's avatar

As for the sleeve, just to clarify, they make your stomach into a sleeve shape. 85% of the stomach is removed. The intestine is not bypassed at all.

I am prone to osteoporosis and don’t want to risk getting lots of vitamin deficiencies easily. I don’t mind taking vitamins the rest of my life. I’m already on lots of meds.

The bypass and the sleeve have comparable results though, from what I’ve read, provided that you do well. Exercise and lots of protein.

II already have to eat lots of protein. Carbs make me feel nauseous. That’s the insulin resistance.

seekingwolf's avatar

@poofandmook

Lol that sounds pretty bad! Sounds like you’re doing well though. Just because you have one addiction doesn’t mean you need to switch to another.

Personally I like alcohol (wine and spirits, and no beer) but I’m an awful lightweight and don’t drink often or much at all. I just don’t have the time, money, or desire to be an alcoholic!

I don’t know if I’m addicted to food but I do have a tendency to overeat at meals. I don’t snack at all. Just eat meals. But I overeat at meals, definitely.

jca's avatar

I had the sleeve almost two years ago and have not become addicted to anything else.

I did like sweets before and do still like sweets now. I am limited in the amount I can eat, and when I’m full, I’m full. It’s a good thing.

I went to a great wedding the other day and there was so much good food. I had to stop eating because I would have gotten sick. It was good I had to stop because in the “old days” I would have had one of these, one of those, and gone till I gained 3 lbs.

seekingwolf's avatar

Yes I like the idea that you can only eat a little.

janbb's avatar

@jca I’m curious, what happens if you do overeat after having the sleeve or bariatric surgery?

poofandmook's avatar

After bypass, if you overeat, it’s very painful… Or worse, you vomit.

seekingwolf's avatar

With the sleeve you don’t get the dumping syndrome that bypassers do. That’s painful sudden bowl movements and cramps if you eat sugar. People with the sleeve can have serious discomfort and vomiting if they eat too much.

jca's avatar

In the beginning, for the first few months, it’s very easy to overeat because you are not yet knowledgeable about how much you can eat. It’s an adjustment period where you are trying to learn how much you can handle. For me, during that time, I’d throw up about once a week. Not a lot of throw up, because there was not a lot of food in there. Throwing up would help me feel better, because it would relieve the discomfort. After that, I lIearned not to eat too fast, and also the swelling of the surgery (internal swelling) went down where the stomach was a bit larger. Now I can eat a bit more at a time, maybe a Greek yogurt with walnuts (in the beginning I could not finish a yogurt).

I wouldn’t describe the feeling as “very painful,” I would describe it as discomfort. The only pain I experienced was in the first week, when I would eat too much (and I wasn’t supposed to be eating solid food at all, but I did).

beatrixtuffy's avatar

I do not know the individuals who had attempt the weight loss surgery but I heard about the weight loss surgery“Gastric sleeve surgery”. But in my apply surgery is not right option for weight loss, You put some additionally efforts on exercise, food and diet plan.

seekingwolf's avatar

I already have and it hasn’t worked. Why suffer more without a tool that could really help?

Judi's avatar

Judging people for this seems so wrong. My personal trainer is very disciplined in his diet and exercise routine but he’s a financial and relationship train wreck.
It just so happens that those of us who struggle with our weight show our weaknesses on our skin. Other weaknesses are easier to hide.

dubsrayboo's avatar

I too have thought about weight loss surgery. But I have 5 personal examples that have kept me from going further. 1. She had gastric bypass and kept having dumping syndrome and then gained the weight back. 2. She would get horribly sick after eating just an ounce of food (not sure of her surgery). 3. The doctor that told me about the surgery, (she had the lap band) she spent the first 8 weeks in bed because of complications, but she was in time successful. 4. A dear friend got the sleeve because her life was at risk and she died a week after (this was last year). 5. Finally, a friend had gastric bypass 3 years ago and there were so many complications that for 10 months she had a feeding tube and a pick line.

It’s been good to hear the success stories here. But even with surgeries getting safer there are major risks. I’ll keep making lifestyle changes.

seekingwolf's avatar

Update:

I’ve lost over 80 lb since December and still losing. Getting the sleeve was one of the best choices I’ve ever made for myself, by far. My life quality has improved 200%.

poofandmook's avatar

Anyone who says that weight loss surgery isn’t a solution and that one should just diet and exercise and has never been fat should really just learn to stay out of things they know nothing about.

seekingwolf's avatar

The long term success rate of weight loss surgery (particularly the bypass and the sleeve, I got the sleeve) is quite high. The success rate of me losing 160 lb on my own? probably 1% or less. The data speaks for itself. And you’re right @poofandmook, lots of people talk negatively about surgery but they’ve never been really fat. They don’t understand it. Surgery doesn’t eliminate the need for will power. I still have to make the right choices but the fact that I’ve lost a lot and am still losing is a testament to that. I just couldn’t do it completely on my own. Most can’t. The fact is, most people who hit 300+ lb will NEVER go under 300 lb again in their life. They just keep climbing up. When you get that fat, you just accumulate fat and it’s VERY difficult to get it off even when you have the right information and the will power. It’s true.

One other thing that bugs me is that I still have people say to me (even though I’ve already done it and am clearly fine/healthy/a lot thinner) “Oh it’s just such a big risk/it’s so drastic/what if something bad happened?” Well, it’s up to me if I decide whether or not it’s worth it to me. I’ve known a couple fat people who were just too scared to go through it because of the “what ifs”. That’s not how I felt, since I knew I’d be more likely to die from being fat in the future if I did nothing, but I respect their choice.

Just because you think something is a “big risk” doesn’t mean that someone else sees it the same way. I know I didn’t.

JLeslie's avatar

@seekingwolf I think people talk about the risk, because so many people don’t consider risk when it comes to surgery. I see it in my husband’s family, most of them never think anything can go wrong. They get their nips and tucks, and even surgeries that are recommended for health, not just cosmetic, without a worry about dying. I find it stunning since I grew up in a family that is just the opposite, we really believe many things go wrong on the operating table. So, if I tell you there is a high risk associated with stomach bypass before you do it, it’s because I want to make sure you simply know, of course the decision is up to you, but I hope you make a decision based on knowing all the relevant, real, information. I do know someone who died from the surgery, but that was many years ago and it probably is better now. I also know many people helped by the surgery. If I tell you I would not do it even after you did yours, it’s because I would not do it in fear of the risks, that has nothing to do with your decision, I am talking about myself. I think you hear someone say “I wouldn’t do it” and take it as a judgement of what you have chosen to do. It is a personal choice whether to take the risk. No one should be condemning anyone for deciding to do it, because I don’t think anyone does it to “cheat” their way to thin. They have struggled usually many many years with weight, and want to do it for a better, healthier, life.

seekingwolf's avatar

@JLeslie

I would blame that on the doctor then. I’ve never met a doctor who didn’t sit me down and explain the risks of a procedure prior. In fact ,they have to, or else they could get sued later if something goes go wrong and the patient claims “well you never told me”. Then they can point to the chart and say “Well, yes I did, so you can’t sue me.”

I don’t particularly care if many fat people don’t have the surgery. It just pisses me off when I hear “oh it’s too risky to lose weight with that surgery” because that is a judgement on what I have done because it’s a general, blanket statement. It may have been too risk for them but not for me. And there lies the difference.

People really need to shut up about things that they don’t know. It’s not up to people to tell me about risks, it’s my doctor’s responsibility. And hearing about “oh, my aunt’s boyfriend’s sister’s pet dog’s godmother died during that surgery!!!” isn’t helpful or relevant. At all.

I guess it all boils down to people keeping their mouth shut. I certainly don’t say anything when I see morbidly obese people shying away from surgery, even though I do think “wow, you’re going to die in 10 years”. I just smile and say “okay do what works for you”. Likewise, they ought to keep their mouth shut too.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, if you know me, I think doctors fuck up all the time, so I don’t trust them to do everything they should or everything I would expect them to.

You wrote, “oh it’s too risky to lose weight with that surgery” and then you interpret that as them judging you. I offer you this: why not reframe that in your mind as the person stating their own fear of the surgery. You can just respond by saying, “I knew there were risks, but I was willing to take them and am glad I did.” You could add, “my weight was a risk too,” if you wanted to.

Own the risk and your decision to do the surgery. You don’t have to be defensive you can educate the person on why it was right for you, if you want to bother. Don’t let people get to you, you can turn it around.

seekingwolf's avatar

I don’t really waste my time educating people anymore unless they tell me specifically that they are considering it. As soon as they throw up the roadblocks and stories and don’t ask questions but would rather bash the procedure, they are closed to the idea so I no longer bother anymore. At that point, I don’t even talk about it with them, just think “oh another person who isn’t supportive” and I kind of write them off as a support person. Because at that point, they have decided that it’s better to remain fat than to get the surgery. And I can’t help anyone at that point.

Their doctor is free to try and “convince” them but that’s not my job or desire. Just like it’s not their job to try and convince me not to do it. They aren’t my doctor and I am not theirs.

JLeslie's avatar

I really don’t necessarily see what you see in their comments. I’m sure some of them are judging, but I think many of them are just voicing what they have heard and what worries them about the procedure, that is not necessarily making a judgment. Not that it is your job to defend it or educate others. Someone can be supportive of you and still be afraid of what you decided.

seekingwolf's avatar

@JLeslie

None of my supporters have ever been scared for me. They encouraged me to go for it. Someone who is scared of the procedure is not going to encourage me. They will just sit around and make excuses. so that’s why I write them off. Not saying that they are bad people or that I’ll cut them off, but I don’t consider them supportive/helpful and I don’t go to them with my thoughts/concerns when it comes to weight loss. So it’s not like it’s their loss because I’m not denying them anything – I just don’t go to them for support but they wouldn’t know that.

poofandmook's avatar

@JLeslie: if @seekingwolf if anything like me, we get our defenses up over those comments because there’s such a stigma about being fat, and I think an equally huge stigma about the surgical procedures to help. We’re taking the easy way out. We’re just being lazy. We’re cheating. We’ve tried to defend ourselves for being fat our whole lives, and now we have to defend ourselves for how we lost the weight? Where is the relief? Where is the “good for you!”? We often don’t get it. We get criticisms and secondhand horror stories.

seekingwolf's avatar

@poofandmook

Yeah, pretty much. That’s why I’m not educating anyone about it anymore. Too much crap and too much stigma even though I know it was the best thing for me. If they want to look into it, they can look online. Not my job.

JLeslie's avatar

@poofandmook I completely understand. In fact, I was going to say I think being overweight many years probably creates a situation where you feel on the defensive for many years and also criticized, self critical, and insecure. I hesitated, because I didn’t want it to sound like I am assuming everyone who is overweight has self esteem and self confidence issues. I empathasize with it, because I myself have problems listening to my “inner voice” and submit more than I ever would have guessed to other people’s opinions. I am definitely one of those people who hears a nay sayer or a negative comment and I begin to question everything and doubt myself. There are people who hear naysayers and it just motivates them more to prove them wrong. I wish I had more of that in me.

I do find that people who felt badly about their self image while growing up, and especially if they were bullied or abused in any way, tend to be very black and white about what is acceptable. They have very specfic expectations of how people should behave and react, less tolerance for people who might say something unsympathetic, don’t care about the intent of a person, but just care about the resulting actions. I have some of those things to, everyone does to some degree, but it just always seems more extreme to me in some people, and I think maybe they suffer more. More angry, more depression, and more difficulties in relationships. At the same time, people like me who tend to not want to think mal intent, maybe we allow people to harm us more. I don’t mean to psychoanalyze it all, because no matter what everyone is an individual, no generalization really matters.

I’m totally off the deep end when dealing with doctors, so I certainly have my own “stuff.” I work on it, I really do, but it is difficult.

I certainly don’t think anyone has to explain themselves. I think it is just fine to tell someone you don’t want to discuss it, or just change the subject and avoid that conversation in the future.

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