Greetings!! Today’s post is about Bariatric Surgery. I had vertical gastric sleeve surgery in March 2016 and have lost approximately 70 pounds. Is it worth it? For me, yes. It is a highly personal decision, and one with possible debilitating consequences. One should walk into the surgery with eyes wide open and fully aware of what to expect.
What is Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric surgery is a medical procedure for weightloss. There are two general types of surgery:
Malabsorptive surgeries move the food through the system bypassing certain parts of the digestive organs. There are several different surgeries for using malabsorption such as the gastric bypass where a pouch is surgically created from a small portion of the upper stomach and is attached to a lower portion of the small intestine. The process has been perfected over the years and is safer than it was 15 or 20 years ago.
Restrictive surgeries restrict the amount of food that can be placed in the stomach at any one time without bypassing any of the digestive system. As I mentioned before, I chose the vertical gastric sleeve surgery. This is one of the only “permanent” surgeries. It cannot be reversed. A majority of the stomach is permanently removed. The patient does not lose as much weight with the restrictive surgeries as they do with the malabsorptive surgeries, but you do not have to live with the possible side-effects of undigested food and a possible life long relationship with supplements.
All surgical interventions have risks. I chose the vertical sleeve because it is a surgery that has been perfected since it was considered viable in the 1990’s. During the early years it was used with a malabsorbative surgery called the duodenal switch. Much of the intestinal system is bypassed and reconnected. Now, according to estimates by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the gastric sleeve standalone surgery is now performed in 59.39% of the bariatric surgeries (2017).
Why did I go with Surgery?
From the mid 90’s until 2017, I suffered from arthritis in my hip. Type 2 diabetes became uncontrollable via diet and pills, making insulin injections necessary. By the time I had my sleeve surgery, I had to use a walker or cane to get around because of the hip pain. I tried every diet known to human kind to lose weight.
In little less than a year, I lost enough weight to allow a hip replacement. I can honestly say, my life began again after the hip replacement in December 2016. For too many years I was unable to do the things I enjoyed because of pain. By April 2, 2017, I was able to dance with my oldest son at his wedding reception.
Life with the Sleeve
Even though I had about 70% of my stomach removed, now three years down the road, I probably eat a normal person’s portions. I can have a hamburger. I can’t have a hamburger AND fries. But I can have one or the other. They told me I could never eat bread, pasta, or other foods like them. Sorry. Wrong. I can. And I have to work hard to stay away from the high calorie, low nutrient side of food. I want to note: I am not normal. Never have been. Most people who have this surgery cannot eat like I eat. The good, I can enjoy food. The bad: I do enjoy food.
Drinks are another matter. The only thing I cannot do is carbonation. No soda’s, no beers or ales, no sparkling waters or wines. Not drinking before eating, during eating, and right after eating is something I cannot do also. Water makes food in the stomach expand and can be very painful.
Although I have lost approximately 70 pounds, going down from a size 5x to a 3x, I would love to get down to a 2x or 1x in women sizes. I love clothes, but not necessarily what is offered in Elko in the 3x range. Additionally, I have gained 20 pounds this past year from eating low nutritional, high calorie foods. Something I am changing.
I am NOT a medical professional. I highly recommend you research thoroughly before considering seeing a surgeon for bariatric surgery.
Most insurance companies that do allow bariatric surgery, will have a list of things you must do before they will approve the surgery. My insurance company required a six month doctor supervised diet. Before you go into your regular doctor, be informed!! Your regular doctor will be your support in all of this.
You also need to be prepared for what comes after you are approved for surgery. Many surgeons also will require you to consult with a mental health professional before they will sign off on doing the surgery. Having something like binge eating removed from your life can be devastating to you emotionally. Our dysfunctional relationship food can sabotage not only your weight loss, but can put your life in danger.
And be prepared for life AFTER surgery. Make sure you have a support system in place from the moment you get home from the hospital. Each surgeon has you follow their own dietary requirements. Do what your surgeon tells you. No, your aunt three times removed or the self-described “expert” on the user support website do not know what is best for you. Your surgeon and their staff do.
In addition to the links I have provided above, here are additional links to help you become more informed on any choice you make:
Have you considered bariatric surgery? Had one of the surgeries? Share with me below in the comments.