(Closed) advice on Lap band surgery

posted 7 years ago in Full Figured
Post # 3
3316 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

I was at one point asking about this for myself.  Here are the responses I got:

  1. My sister just had this in September. She was in the 300+ range, though. She has lost weight slowly but steadily compared to the people I know who have had gastric bypass. That’s all I got. I know it’s a tough decision for many, I wish you wisdom and strength as you make yours.
  2. I chose not to get the lap band because I couldn’t deal with the idea of getting shots in my abdomen every few weeks. The adjustable lap band is a hollow silicone tube around the upper portion of your stomach. They slowly tighten the opening by filling it with saline. They do this by having the port sticking out, close to the surface of your abdomen. They poke around with the needle until they find the port and then inject saline. Yeah, SO not interested in doing that.

    But if you can stomach it, (get it? stomach?? HA! I slay me …) there are few side effects. It’s small incisions, so they heal fast. There’s no malabsorption, so you don’t have to take as many vitamins.

    Problems I’ve heard about it are the band can slip, break, or end up being too tight and causing increased regurgitation problems, or too loose and just not working.

  3. I have someone I can introduce you to who had lap band some years ago; I can also introduce you to (although you might know her) the person who ran the bariatric surgery panel for [an organization I’m involved with] a while back. She had gastric bypass and not lap band, but I think at least one panelist had lap band.

    Unlike gastric bypass lap band does not remove anything, and has fewer far reaching restrictions/problems. Moreover, unlike gastric bypass, it’s possible to adjust stomach size at different times.

    I will note that over the years I’ve known a bunch of people who’ve had bariatric surgeries, and most of them have indeed rebounded in weight to some extent. In fact, a few are now shaped as you currently are. (or at least as my mind’s eye thinks you are, and I’ll admit my mind plays tricks.)

    edit: By The Way, dunno if you’ve seen the associated NYTimes article? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/02/business/02obese.html?_r=1&pagewanted=alland I ran across http://www.yourbariatricsurgeryguide.com/lap-banding/ re side effects.

    (don’t mind me – easily distractible. Now back to the document I’m working…)

  4. My understanding is that the lap band can cause problems in people who are especially physically active (which I’d consider you, with your epic bike rides to dupont and other more fun activities). I haven’t ever seriously considered it tho, so you’d definitely want to look up if that’s accurate.

    Further thought-I also understand the lap band to be most effective for those whose weight issues are related to eating too much at a time, and much less effective if eating too large of portions isn’t a major aspect of one’s weight gain.

  5. I was banded in 2004 with a first generation band. It has since slipped, which was common for the first gen. I lost a great deal of weight, but because of the slip I’ve gained back about 60 lbs of it. The problem is surgically correctable, but I’m not thrilled with the fact that I must have another surgery (and a new band) to correct it. I understand that the bands they’re using now are far less likely to do this. So we’ll see.

    I can’t tell you if it’s a good choice for you, only you can decide with the help of your doctor and a lot of research. All I can tell you is if I had to do it all over again, I’d likely choose a different option. At this point I can’t do that, I can only have the correction because my insurance will cover it since it’s deemed medically necessary, they won’t if it’s an entirely different weight loss procedure.

    I’m happy to chat with you at length if you like. Just ping or email me.

    To tack on a few practical answers:

    Recovery time is fairly quick. You’ll have a few small incisions and maybe a day or two of downtime.

    Food restrictions will vary a great deal. To this day I don’t tolerate most pasta well at all. Portions should be small and get used to protein shakes because you will need them. No other supplements other than a multi-vitamin are necessary.

    Long term success is determined by how closely you follow the suggested meal plans/portion sizes, how active you are, and how consistent you are will medical follow-ups.

  6. On the positive side, my friend Sally had it done a few years ago, She lost a lot of weight, getting down to a size 16. She told me that her eating habits have changed, as she can only eat small bits at a time. Unfortunately, due to stress and illness for the past five years, she is now back up to her former weight, especially after being on disability for two months; she had been in a work related car accident, and the stress of that and the ensuing legal problems (not to mention the inability to exercise for that period of time) really did a number on her. Had she not had the accident, she probably would have kept it off. Sally has the advantage of being a medical professional, and is more aware of the risks and benefits than the average lay person.

    On the negative side, the wife of a friend of mine, who I have never met, reportedly had the surgery done. She went down to half her body weight, but, and here is the qualifier, she suffered neurological damage. Apparently, from what I can piece together from my friend, she had the procedure, then for some reason did not follow up with the nutritional supplements. She went into a nursing home for a month for physical rehab, and was worse off before she went into the facility upon her discharge. Apparently, the staff overlooked the fact that she needed supplements, and did not follow up on her medical care. The left hand did not know what the right hand was doing, and she almost died due to poor after care. Now, she reportedly has difficulty walking and talking.

    Her husband, my friend, told me from the start that he did not feel comfortable with her having the surgery, since they had a friend who had died after having the procedure. Please note that the wife is reportedly NOT a medical professional, unlike Sally.

    I suppose that it really boils down to, in my estimation, to how well informed you are about the positives and negatives of the procedure. Sally was able to benefit, whereas the friend’s wife did not. I suspect that it depends on how well you care for yourself. YMMV!

  7. How effective is it, long term?

    Everyone I know who had it done lost weight, and stayed below their original starting weight.

    No one got ‘thin’.

    The people who had the most success coupled healthier eating habits, exercise etc…

    Everyone I know who had the procedure has some level of food problems, and has continued to have some.

    One person its starch/rice products, one is carbonated beverages, another is sweets…. but bottom line is everyone now has a food or two, or ‘class’ of food they need to avoid, or they get significant discomfort.

    Its fairly common to drop a bunch of weight, and then stabilize, and then some comes back on.

    Your eating habits will also contribute to the success/failure. If you are a binge, meal time eater. Having less stomach capacity will help. If you are an all-day grazing eater, then it will probably be less successful.

  8. If you decide to go the Band route, your extra supplementation is still crucial! No, you wont have to take as many supplements as someone who has had Gastric Bypass Surgery (GBS), but you WILL still need to take some kind of supplements. The only way to determine just how well you are doing nutritionally after the surgery is to have blood work done, and a lot of it.

    The person spoken of above who had neurological damage due to lack of supplements is the reason you need the blood tests, and not just the normal CBC & CMP. The biggies that you need to test for are Calcium and Vitamin D, Iron, and B12. The lack of B Vitamins, especially B12, was the likely culprit that caused that woman’s neurological issues. And there are at least 3 tests that ~must~ be done for each of these to truly know if your levels are optimal. The full complete set that should be done at least as a base line prior to the surgery is about 14 to 18 vials depending on where you get it drawn.

    Unfortunately, ~most~ surgeons, but not all, don’t know about all the tests that need to be done. The list I have, and can send to you, has been compiled by post-ops who are 15 to 20 years out from their surgeries and have been through just about all the problems there can be. Many have had to work very hard with several doctors to figure out what the problem was, and when it came down to it, it was nutritional. Most doctors are okay with the full list once the reasoning behind all of the tests is explained.

    Since you are looking at the Band, these tests should be done about every 6 mos. as opposed to every 3 to 4 months for GBS. And it’s a good idea to keep a spreadsheet of the results so that ~you~ can see if there any trends that may indicate the need to adjust your supplements. Your doctor will only see when you’ve finally gotten into the Low range, which is usually too late to fix it easily. If you track the results, you will be able to correct what you take before it gets to the point where you have to have iron infusions or TPN to try to get you healthy again.

    I’m sorry to up on a soap box about this, but I’ve seen too many people end up with issues because they ~didn’t~ keep up with their supplementation or even get the testing done at all. Even people I specifically mentioned that they NEEDED to be doing all of this. Even those who’ve only had the restrictive types of surgery. And one who tried to turn it around after they got really bad, it was too late and she’s dead now. I’ve kept my mouth shut and not done the “I told you so” routine, though I’ve sooooo wanted to.

    Stepping off the soap box now. Good luck which ever way you decide!

  9. I moderate the WLS Group here on LJ. We have lots of Lap-Band patients who post to the group and it would be be a good place to ask for WLS Surgery experiences. Also, I recommend joining ObesityHelp.com or at least going out to the site and reading some of the entries from the individuals who’ve had Lap-Band. Good luck in your journey, I’m here if you need any more reference info.

Post # 4
3316 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

I personally decided not to do it.  I talked to my brother, who is a surgeon.  He said that excess weight is not that much of a health concern.  What causes health problems is a sedentary lifestyle.  Overweight contributes primarily if it causes such strain on the joints that you can’t exercise.  However, since I am able to bicycle long distances several times a week, and do an hour on either the elliptical or the stationary bike each day that I don’t bicycle, that’s not a concern for me.  Under the circumstances, he felt that the health risks of the procedure outweighed the benefits.

Post # 6
240 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2012

I have had my band for about 1 1/2 years I love it. It was the best decision I ever made. The injections aren’t bad at all. I have lost 90 pounds

Post # 7
299 posts
Helper bee

Back in the 80’s my father had half of his stomach removed as a treatment for ulcers (this is no longer done).  In a funny way, he had a very early version of weight loss surgery.  Based on that, I never want to undergo those type of surgeries, seeing his eating issues my entire life and how many things make him sick and miserable?  No thanks.  I’d rather be myself, fat and active.

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