I had a gastric bypass almost 20 years ago. I weighed 309 lbs the day I went into surgery (I’m 5’7) and I ultimately lost over 140 lbs. It took me almost 3 years to loose my weight, although I lost over 100 lbs the first year. I also had a pregnancy in the middle of that time.
The reason you can gain the weight back is because your small intestine (right where it meets the bypass pocket) can stretch back out and hold more food. Your stomach empties really quickly, so you can also eat frequently throughout the day. The last element is liquids. You can really sabotage your weight loss with high calorie liquids. Carnie Wilson had her surgery reversed which is why she ultimately gained her weight back. She did gain and lose a few times before the reversal though.
Now the scary part – I’ve had to have about 7 major surgeries post gastric bypass that were related to my original gastric bypass. I’ve had 2 complete bowel obstructions which were honestly the most painful things I’ve ever experienced. That’s really saying something considering the surgeries and health issues that I’ve endured (not all related to my bypass). I’ve had the piece of small intestine tightened back up 3 times which has helped me keep my weight off over the years. I’ve also had 2 separate cosmetic surgeries to fix loose skin. The first surgery was a tummy tuck. The 2nd surgery was a breast lift, arm lift, an inner thigh lift, and some liposuction done in my thighs, My insurance paid all but $1,000 of my tummy tuck since my bypass surgeon did iit. He had to repair a hernia, so my insurance paid for the anesthesia, operating room, hospital stay, etc. I just paid the surgeon fee and he gave me a big discount because I’ve been his patient for years. I had to pay $21,000 for the 2nd surgery because it was done by a plastic surgeon.
I will tell you right now that you will most likely want cosmetic surgery after you’ve lost all your weight, so start saving now. I think dealing with the loose skin and desperately wanting cosmetic surgery was the most frustrating part of the whole process. That’s one thing I wished I had known in advance. It REALLY sucks to loose a lot of weight and still end up hating your body because of the loose skin. My breasts were awful. Think Magda from “There’s Something About Mary” if you know the movie (minus the sun damaged skin).
One other thing that I’ll warn you about is contrast dye. I don’t know if it common with all surgeons, but my surgeon loves ordering me contrast dye to drink. You drink it for a ct scan, but it also help with blockages so my surgeon really likes to give me that crap. It’s beyond nasty tasting and it’s really hard to drink post surgery. Take my advice and drink it straight. They will try to mix it with juice and ice. But nothing can make it taste better and the juice just adds volume to what you’ll have to drink.
With that all said, I haven’t regretted my surgery for one moment. My life felt held back and negatively defined by my weight. I couldn’t get pregnant due to my weight which is initially why I looked into surgery. The weight loss has allowed me to have 3 beautiful daughters. I’ve gained so much confidence and self worth. I’m healthier and much happier. Surgery is not easy, but neither is being morbidly obese. If I had not undergone a gastric bypass, I probably would have needed a massive cardiac bypass by this point, as well as knee surgery, and who knows what else. My surgeon told me at my first visit that 309 lbs would not be my stopping point. That really hit me because I knew he was right. I yo-yo dieted my way to 309 lbs and I would have kept going higher and higher over the years. My weight now fluctuates between 160 lbs to 180 lbs. The only times that I’ve gained more than 20 lbs is during pregnancy. I tend to gain a lot during pregnancy (60 lbs – 70 lbs). About a year after each pregnancy is when I’ve needed to get the small intestine tightened back up. My surgeon goes back through the old incision, and it’s a much easier surgery to recover from.
My advice if you do end up having surgery is get out of bed and walk as soon as they let you. The first steps will be brutal, I’m not going to lie. But the sooner and more often you walk, the faster you will heal. It will help your lungs stay clear. It will also help you relieve the soreness that develops post surgery. Since I learned to get up and walk, I bounce right back after surgery. My youngest daughter was delivered via c-section (my 3rd c-section) at 34 weeks. She was taken straight to the NICU. As soon as I gained feeling in my legs (6 hours after surgery), I asked to go down to the NICU. They brought me a wheel chair and 2 nurses to help move me into the chair. But I just took offf walking down the hallway and left my stunned nurses behind me. They couldn’t believe how easily I could move around and so soon.
As far as maintaining a diet, it’s so much easier to do post surgery. You’l be forced to learn portion control because you’ll get deathly sick every time you eat a bite too much (for about the first year). You will learn to eat slow, to chew every bite, and to enjoy every bite. You will start to hate the feeling of over stuffing yourself. Feeling pleasantly full/content will become your new standard. Rich, heavy, fatty, and sugary foods will become your enemy. Just the thought of them will make you sick. Fresh, light, and lean willl become the foods that you prefer because those are the foods that you can eat and enjoy without getting sick. Gastric bypass is basically like banging your head on a wall. Every time you eat something wrong, bang, you’re sick. Eat too much? Bang! A tall glass of milk? Nope, bang! Fried chicken? Oh hell no! And don’t even think about cake or donuts. You’ll vomit that crap up and end up laying on the floor praying for mercy for about an hour. You can only bang your head on the wall so many times before you learn to stop doing it. Some lessons will require a bit more banging, but you will eventually learn them all. That’s the thing I like most about having a gastric bypass. It’s not easy, but it is forced. You can’t cheat because your body won’t let you. The only willpower required is signing the consent form and walking your perfectly healthy self into surgery. After that point, there’s no turning back.
I personally recommend surgery. I feel like it’s given me a quality of life that I wasn’t able to obtain on my own. I tried for years and couldn’t do it. For those that are are able to lose weight and keep it off permanently on their own, kudos.l! It’s an amazing feat. It’s also very rarely done. I think since you are only 80 lbs overweight, your chance of success with surgery is much higher. It’s a much harder road for someone that’s 150+ lbs overweight. You’ll get better looking results and won’t have to deal with so much excessive skin. The surgery is also safer when you aren’t too heavy. If your insurance will cover your surgery now (which is possible because I’ve met people that’s had it done), why wait until you most likely get heavier? I was 22 or 23 when I had surgery and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to enjoy the bulk of my adult life free of being morbidly obese.
Best of luck with your decision. Feel free to ask me any questions that you may have.
Here are some before and after pictures. I weighed about 250 lbs in the before pictures, so I got almost 60 lbs heavier. The first 2 after pictures were taken about a year after all of my cosmetic surgeries and I weighed 165 lbs. I realize the pictures are a bit risqué but the point is to show my body, so that’s what I’m doing. I weigh 175 lbs in the last picture which is my current weight. Sorry that the pictures are so zoomed in. For some reason, I can only post screen shots that are the full screen of my phone, so I have to zoom in to fill up the screen.