Weight Loss Surgery- the Good, the Great, the Bad, and the Ugly... Part1
i wanted to talk to people of different ages from different walks of life, and most importantly, had a few different types of surgery. I had no idea there were so many different options, so ill explain as much as possible assuming you didnt realize it either.
some background info to start. i graduated high school at 260lbs... i had done weight watchers, lost 40lbs, barely anyone even noticed i had lost any weight so i felt like crap, stopped doing it, and gained it all back... id tried dieting but couldnt really stick with it. i heard about so many people getting gastric bypass and lap band and i actually remember saying "is it even possible to lose 100lbs naturally? i dont know anyone whos done it!" and i decided i couldnt do it and got to researching. I wanted surgery. Unfortunately, my insurance denied me. I would have to gain a little more weight in order to be eligible. I wasnt crazy enough to do that so I moved on with my life. I dont understand now, because i know plenty of people who had surgery and weighed less than me, but im thinking maybe i needed to be super huge because i was so young? i dont really know. It ended up being a blessing because i was forced to do it on my own, about 5 years later, when i couldnt take it anymore. Had my insurance not denied me, I WOULDVE BEEN A WLS SUCCESS STORY. so, before anyone decides im just "anit-surgery" please remember that i was denied surgery. in the end u am so glad i was denied, but i am not AGAINST surgery- if you have the finances to pay for it and the will power to not put all your weight back on after risking your life by having MAJOR surgery.
First, meet Angela!
Angela was always a little chubby and like most chubby kids, became a big adult. at her heaviest she was 310lbs. she decided to eat healthy and work out like crazy, and lost 96lbs! unfortunately she stopped losing and hit a plateau. Counting every single calorie and working out 2hours a day was no longer realistic for her. She didnt use this excuse, but during this time she endured a huge hardship- losing all of her belongings and a pet in a house fire. I am sure this had major effects on her fitness program and stress levels. Eventually, she gained back in the 230s.
At this point Angela began to consider surgery. She did some research and decided to get Roux-en- Y Gastric Bypass. It appealed to her because it is the oldest practiced WLS. She also found that a lot of people have terrible complications from the other surgeries, that result in having to get this one anyway. It also happened to be her only option through MassHealth, so it worked out perfectly. In this surgery they make a small (appx 1oz) pouch that will be your new stomach and connect it to the small intestine. for a chart that compares weight loss surgeries click here.
angela weighed in at 235 when she had her surgery on november 1, 2012. prior to having surgery she had to spend $500 on psych visits and a class about head hunger and controlling hunger to make sure her mind would be in the right place post op. 8 months later Angela weighs 131lbs! She says her surgery was actually not too bad, the hardest part of recovery was staying hydrated and was cleared to work out only a month post op. One complication shes had is hair loss, which is very common and usually stops within 6 mons of WLS. Most recently, angela had to have gallbladder surgery, which put her out of commission for a few days. This is also very common in WLS patients, or anyone with a huge weight loss. Angela also experiences some "dumping", but more about that later.
Angela's goal is to eat 1000 calories a day, but she usually falls a couple hundred short. however she always makes sure to get 120g of protein when she works out, and the minimum recommended for WLS patients -60g on the days she doesnt. (This is completely off topic but id just like to share that i track my nutrients every day. As a VEGAN i get an average of 65g a day. Almost a third of that comes from shakeology. so do not think protein is that hard to find without meat! :-D) The first two weeks she could only eat liquids, and then mushy foods, eventually graduating back to regular food. she avoids sugar and carbs and eats a very low carb diet. this leaves her blood low and sometimes causes her to pass out. she said its common in WLS patients, but I think its just common in carb deprived. When im trying to be extra skinny for something and go super low carb for a few days, i get dizzy too, fortunately dont pass out, but id bet that is why!
because the food skips the part of your stomach that absorbs nutrients once you have this surgery, you have to take a shit load of vitamins. the list and schedule angela sent me was literally a paragraph long. I would assume this is why so many people lose hair, because theyre nutrient deprived, especially in the beginning. i would also assume this is why some people can get surgery, eat shit, and still lose- because your body is not absorbing your food anyway. Angela can eat crap and prob still lose a little weight, but she chooses to eat healthy because she knows she will get sick if she eats a lot of carbs and sugar. Her body causes her to "dump" which can either be vomiting or diarrhea. It can also happen if she eats too fast. its deff a down side, but once you become familiar with what foods cause this, its very easy to avoid them. plus once she has no more fat to lose, she would most likely begin to put some weight back on if shes not eating healthy. smart lady.
Angela feels that if you want to lose weight you should put in a true and honest effort for at least a year. if you can do it on your own, you should. however, if after a year of sincere trying and being unsuccessful, she would recommend surgery.
Besides enjoying fitting into new tiny sized clothes, angela is loving her confidence and the fact that she no longer has the daily headaches she was plagued with prior to weight loss.
Congrats ang! if youd like to follow her journey on FB click here!
Every time Jeff had tried a diet, hed lose 20lbs and gain 40. Finally, standing 5'7" and at 435lbs, he went into surgery on February 22, 2013. Like Angela, Jeff had the RNY bypass surgery. This would make over eating and eating the wrong foods a miserable experience, and Jeff wanted a solution that did not include the ability to cheat.
Jeff thinks the WLS age limit should be dropped to 14, if its for metabolic reasons. He thinks its a great option for people like him, without the ability to move and work out. having lost over 150lbs, his ankle was able to heal and now he works out on a trainer designed program 5 days a week. His recovery was only about 10 days, scarring is minimal, and has been fortunate enough to have zero complications.
jeffs diet is high protein and low carb. he eats a lot of fish and seafood as part of his 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. Jeff had a great support system from his wife and family, which i am sure has contributed to his amazing success. He is currently 285lbs and only regrets not having the surgery sooner! His goal is to be able to ride his bike 33 miles to the hospital he had surgery at for their annual "Transformations" event. He has also agreed to be the face of the hospitals WLS campaign.
Congrats, Jeff! If youd like to follow his journey on facebook click here.
Heathers surgery was in Sept 2012. She was only in the hosptial one night, had no pain, and only took a week off of work- mostly because of doctors orders rather than actually being in pain or anything. Her scars are minimal, nothing worse than any stretch mark she already had. Rather than complications the Dr actually found a hernia Heather already had unknowingly, and removed it while in surgery! As of June heather is down to 209- only 10lbs away from her personal goal!
Heather is now living a life super committed to health. Shes changed the way her whole family eats, hoping to avoid ever having over weight kids going through the same things as she did. She's more in control of her life and living the way she always imagined it without feeling judged. The only times shes ever felt any regret was when she wishes her progress was faster, as it wouldve been if shed chosen a different surgery, and when it takes her hours to grocery shop because she cares so much about reading all the nutrition info! her eating strategy (from what she explained to me) is mostly clean foods, in small portions, 3 meals and 2 snacks every day. she does not follow a diet, she eats in a way thats healthy but also satisfying enough to make into a lifestyle. although rare with her surgery type, she experiences some "dumping" (she gets diarrhea and stomach cramps, others puke or get light headed)so its super important for her to pay attention to what she eats to decrease it. she works out 6 hours a week when her sons in school but is spending the summer making sure to be active with him and going for walks daily. In the beginning some of Heathers family wasnt too excited about the idea, but later came around when they realized her successes and that she didnt suffer any of the risks.
The hardest part about Heathers transformation has been having to deal with all of her emotions. many of us use food as an emotional crutch, and now heather doesnt have that option so shes forced to FEEL whatever it is shes feeling and that can be scary. i was super intrigued by Heathers story becuase she was so honest about her struggles in the past. when i asked why she thinks its working this time, when even bulimia didnt work, Heather says that its about restriction. for the first time in her life she can physically feel when her body is full (it makes her hiccup sometimes!)which makes it easier to stop eating, its not just eat till youre finished. she also thinks that seeing results makes it easier to stay on track- previously she had never lost enough to see this much results so actually SEEING the transformation makes it more bearable to stick with. Heather would reccomend surgery to those with support at home and a commitment to making a change for life.
congratulations, heather! if youd like to follow her journey on facebook- click here.
Melissa knew it was time to look at her other options when shed get short of breath just going to the bathroom and even collapsing from asthma attack once. It became very real to her that her daughter could lose her mother to obesity related disease, just as melissa had lost her dad at a young age.
Melissa chose RNY because its the oldest WLS around so they know the most about it. Melissas pre-op included a 6 month supervised diet, meeting with bariatric therapists, and meeting with depression/anxiety therapists. this took almost a year! when the time for surgery came every thing went well, until the dr found a leak during a check just before closing her up. had he not done that melissa may have lost her life. Because of the swelling from fixing the leak melissa had to spend 5 days in the hospital, two of which she couldnt even drink liquid. Even though in the past 14 months melissa has battled an ulcer, strictures, dehydration and now pneumonia amongst other things, she still thinks this was the best decision of her life. Shed reccomend it as a last resort to anyone who is truly willing to change their life, and stresses that WLS is not for everyone.
Melissas diet includes a lot of fiber and protein and she is not afraid to eat carbs, as she doesnt feel enough energy without them.
Melissa is now down to 234lbs! she is lucky enough to have a very supportive boyfriend and family. The best thing about her new life is her confidence, at one point she would not even undress infront of her boyfriend of 8 years. fortunately for him, thats over with!! congrats melissa! you go girl!!! if youd like to follow melissas journey on facebook you can here.
I plan to update her story tomorrow, until then!