A food addict's travels on the road to recovery.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weight Loss Surgery

I'm afraid this is going to be a nasty post, lol. If there were ever a controversial topic to blog about, this is IT! I'm a very opinionated person, as I think we ALL have the right to be, so I have avoided writing about this topic thus far so as not to unintentionally offend anyone with my personal opinions.

However, I watched a show on Discovery Health last night called Big Medicine. I had skimmed over an episode once before but never took the time to watch an entire episode. Last night I did. I've been thinking about weight loss surgery ALL DAY now and so it's time to get my thoughts out and "down on paper", so to speak, and move on.

I think that a lot of us fatties have considered this as an option at one point or another. I know I certainly did. I've personally met 7 different people who have had the surgery over the last few years and have heard the horror and success stories. I will say that 6 out of the 7 people, despite all the problems that followed the surgery, say that they would do it again and do not regret it. Only 1 of those people told me if they had it to do over, knowing what they know now, they would have skipped the surgery and lost the weight on their own.

The time that I really, truly considered it for myself was a couple of years ago...maybe not even that long. It was right after a dr's visit, where I was told that if I didn't get serious about getting this weight off, and fast, that I very likely would not make it through my 40's. In other words, I had only a very few short years to live. My parents were going to have to bury me.

My doctor told me that having the diabetes, the high blood pressure, the high cholesterol was all taking a toll on my body. She told me she knew it was hard for me to believe because, outside of being tired all the time, I pretty much felt okay. I didn't really feel like I was falling apart. I couldn't see the results of it on the outside of my body. But she informed me that all of these illnesses were wreaking havoc on my insides...the part I can't see...and that I would just have to believe her that I didn't have much longer to live. I believed her. I was reduced to tears in front of her. It was a very sobering experience.

Thinking that after being fat for about 25 years, I OBVIOUSLY didn't have what it takes to get rid of the weight on my own. Maybe it was time to enlist some help...simply for the sake of not dying an early death. I asked a few friends for their opinion. Most of them refused to offer their own personal opinons due to it being such a personal decision. And God knows, if anything went bad wrong, they didn't want it on their conscience. I can understand that. I asked my roommate and best guy friend Shane. He didn't like the idea. I asked my boyfriend Dwayne (had been dating 3-3 1/2 yrs at this point)...and he hated the idea.

In fact, he hated it so much, he did something he's never done. He told me a story about a girl he dated in the past. We've never discussed previous gf/bf with each other because we both believe that things that are in the past should stay there. However, on this particular subject, he felt the need to share. He first gave me all the health reasons...the dangers of surgery, the digestive problems afterwards, etc, etc. Then he told me about the outward physical aspect after you drop a ton of weight too fast.

The girl he dated for a "very short time", and I'm guessing this is why, had the surgery and dropped 80 lbs VERY quickly, all of this before she met Dwayne. They started dating and the time for them to get naked came. You should have seen the look on his face while he was trying to describe her body to me w/o getting downright crude about ex-girlfriends. He was wincing like he was in pain, slowly shaking his head side to side, like he was saying "no", speaking with total disgust in his voice.

He said that the amount of excess loose skin that is left over after dropping such a dramatic amount of weight in such a short period of time (I think it was 3 months) is unbelievable. He said it wasn't just on her stomach, it was all over....the butt, the chest, the arms, the legs, and even her back. He said seeing that was enough to tell me not to do the surgery, even if I didn't pay attention to the other, more important risk factors.

Naturally, while I'm listening to all of this and trying to keep an even look on my face, I am secretly thinking about my OWN loose skin that I'll have to deal with, with or without the surgery. I already have loose fat...I've never had that tight, firm fat like some people. My arms already look like bat wings. So, do you think I'll ever forget the look on his face and the disgust in his voice while he was describing this to me? I don't think so. That is something that will have to be dealt with at a later time when the other 70 lbs. I have to lose comes off. I'm not looking forward to facing those issues.

Back to the surgery.....Dwayne's opinions weren't good enough. I needed to talk to someone really smart. Someone who would give me a non-emotional, unbiased opinion. It finally dawned on me....I needed to call my hero. I've only ever had, and will only ever have, one hero in my lifetime, and I needed his opinion. I called my Dad.

Dad said don't do it. He gave me the list of reasons, all of them made perfect sense to me, and I knew I could fully trust in his opinion. I didn't necessarily feel like I could do it on my own, and I cried while telling him this. That didn't change his opinion. He gave me some words of comfort and some words of encouragement, but even through my tears, his opinion on the surgery remained the same. And I knew that if Dad says don't do something, I better not do it. And that's where my contemplation over having surgery ended.

I know tons of people say it's the easy way out...that you're cheating because they just do a bypass or strap on a lap band, and the weight just falls off in gobs. This isn't the reason I disagree with the surgery. I don't think it's an easy decision. I know for a fact that things get REALLY bad afterwards...with gas problems, digestive issues, and God forbid you actually keep your old habits and OVEREAT....I've heard some tell me that death would be better than the sickness and pain you experience with overeating. It makes me shudder thinking about the horror stories that have been told to me from people who have experienced them.

However, I do think the surgery is giving up on yourself. It really confuses me, and here's why. For anyone who's researched this, you know that there's a long process to go through before you can even have it done. You have to do all sorts of reading and research and take classes and learn about nutrition, and ALL of the options first. Then in most cases, the doctor requires you to lose a certain amount of weight before he/she will even approve you to have the surgery. On the show I watched last night he told one girl to lose 30 lbs. Well, she busted her butt and lost 40-45 before she went back to see him. ???

She had the surgery, and after she had healed enough, she started counting calories and got a membership to Bally Total Fitness and has a personal trainer pushing her to the max on exercise. ??? This is the main reason for my confusion.

First of all....the girl lost MORE weight than the doctor even required her to, PROVING that she CAN do it on her own through watching her calories and exercising! And after the surgery, she was really ROCKING IT with the calories and exercise ALL ON HER OWN.

Is anyone else wondering what I am? Am I the only one that is having a total "DUH" moment here? I really do not understand why you would have the surgery if you have to do the EXACT same things as you would do to lose it naturally? Especially on the front end. She lost 40-45 lbs on her own! Good Lord...the 6 lbs I lost on my very first week, 9 weeks ago, was enough to make me want to keep going....and she lost that much, proving she has it in her to do it, and still wants to have the surgery??? WHY??? I just don't get it. I just don't.

Maybe someone reading this would be kind of enough to educate me on this if you're pro-surgery. I'm always willing to listen to other's opinions, whether they differ from mine or not. And there should always be room in your life for learning new things. I really want to know the method behind the madness. Because to me, it's just looking like madness.

If anyone is reading this and in the midst of weighing their options, let me send out a plea not to have the surgery. It's just my opinion, but I believe we ALL have it in us to do it the natural way. Is it hard? Sure it is. Is surgery and the aftermath hard? You betcha. But I still think the natural way is the lesser hard.

If you're considering the surgery, then you already have the desire to be rid of the weight. All you need now is the decision to do it and the belief in yourself that you can. I believe you can. I know you can. And I will be right here to support anyone and everyone that wants to follow the natural road to weight loss and good health. We can do it together...you are not alone in your travels. There are plenty of us in Blogland that are going the natural route and I invite you to join us. I'm here to support you and encourage you all the way to the finish line. :)

Quote For The Day:

"To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first." -Shakespeare


  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I'm not pro-surgery either. I'm a nurse & worked in surgery for 7 years. I've seen this surgery done many times. I've had co-workers get it done only to gain all their weight back and possibly more. Surgery is not the easy way out. It comes with risks and you still have to do work. I've also seem patients who do manage to lose massive amounts of weight and get the excess skin removed. The scars are significant! I think that's a major factor that deters me...all that hard work and still not have a great looking body because you have scars all over from all the body lift surgeries.
    If you learn AND do what is required to get the weight off and keep it off, you don't need the surgery in the first place. Your example of the girl losing the 40+ pounds is prime example.
    It all boils down to wanting to be fit & healthy more than we want to eat our junk food.

    I have a coworker right now trying to get approved for it. I'm desperately trying to convince her that she doesn't need the surgery. She's young, healthy (as obese people can be), & I know she can do it if she would just start a plan. I've offered for her to come to Overeater's Anonymous meetings with me (she said she'd go after she has the surgery). I've invited her to come to my house to work out with me, go play tennis somewhere, bike with me; she always makes excuses.
    I fear she really isn't ready to lose the weight; she isn't desperate enough to get off her butt and control her eating.

    For me personally, I know I will have greater satisfaction knowing the I sweated off every pound of this fat when I stand in front of that mirror at my goal.

  2. Same as you...Dont get it, I have known people to talk about it and some do it, but it makes no sense to me either. Because they still have to eat better and exercise anyway so why risk it, infections,complications and even death and if they sont eat right they get really sick...with you on this one, makes no sense to me at all!!

  3. I suppose the difference is, is that with the surgery, you are almost definitely going to lose the weight, but going it alone is not such a dead cert if like many of us seasoned dieters, you know what it is like to fall off the wagon and feel a "failure".

    I too considered it, but couldn't afford it, was terrified of dying under the knife, was worried about the nutrition aspect afterwards and kind of wanted to know if I could do it all on my own.

    I too worry about the loose skin, especially as I am in my late 40s and the older you are the less elastic the skin is. I can see loose skin already forming on my upper legs and belly, but elsewhere it isn't too bad. They say the skin eventually tightens (after a year or two), but it does depend on your own skin type. Mind you, I would rather have a bit of loose skin and look good in clothes, than a fat body! A bit of loose skin won't put off someone who truly loves you either.

    So regarding loose skin - exercising, time and a good skin care regime will really help.

    Oh, and sometimes I pretend in my head that I have a gastric band and eat accordingly, lol!

  4. Totally agree with everything you said. And I think the reason people opt to get the surgery even after they've lost a fair amount of weight to get to where it's safe for them to get it is because what they did to lose that weight was hard. You know it's hard. To have to struggle with making good choices when you're surrounded with bad ones. To not overeat when things are going really crappy and you just want to drown yourself in comfort food. It takes willpower. It takes control. But all it really takes if somebody gets that surgery is knowing that they're going to be in extreme pain if they make the wrong choices. You won't be in extreme pain if you make a wrong choice. It might just make you gain a pound. So although I know it isn't easy per se, I think it definitely does make it easier on someone mentally. I think that's why they do it. Good for you for losing it the natural way. And good luck with the loose skin. I'm sure it won't be as bad as you think once it has had time to adjust. :)

  5. I don't know if you read it or not, but I did a post recently
    Why I Didn't Have Gastric Bypass Surgery

    I got a lot of interesting comments that you, and your readers might enjoy.

    I agree with a lot of what you've said. It's a serious decision for sure.

  6. I'm in the overweight category, so I've never considered gastric bypass surgery. I guess it's a very personal decision, almost a desperate one. I'd say save the money you would have spent on GBS and use it for a lift after you've lost all the weight on your own. I have horrible skin on my belly from pregnancies and carrying around extra weight, so I'd love to get that taken care of at some point.

  7. I am against the surgery. I have two co-workers who have had gastric bypass. They still have to work out, eat healthy, and be careful not to eat certain things. One of the ladies lost a lot of weight and is now struggling to lose the rest. She's eating badly, even if it makes her sick, and gaining the weight back. What a waste! Why not just lose weight naturally if you're going to go through heck with the somewhat risky surgery?

  8. My doctor actually recommended I look into surgery about a year ago because I lost 100 pounds on my own once and gained it back. I even scheduled an appointment for a seminar and never went. I didn't go because I started reading blogs about it. I wanted to see how real people lived after the surgery and it only took me about an hour to realize I would never do it. I know I couldn't deal with digestive/eating issues following the surgery. I go to lots of dinners for work and can't imagine not being able to eat anything or throwing up into my napkin at the table.

    Great post!

  9. Hi Tammy ... this is obviously a very personal decision to be made. Think long and think hard.

    I work at a hospital and there are a couple of girls who had GBP surgery. One is as skinny as skinny can be. She looks like absolute hell. She doesn't look the least bit healthy. I saw her at the gym the other day and couldn't believe it. She has gone to the extreme. She's already paid huge $$ to have her excess skin removed from her belly. The other girl is really only in the beginning stages. She actually looks good right now, but I know her well and she will not succeed. She may lose all her weight, but it will definitely come back on. She's addicted to food.

    IMO even though it may take you a year or two to lose the weight (as it will me), you will look healthier, have less loose skin (if you exercise) and richer (lol). I think maybe if you are 500 or 600 pounds then maybe, but then look at Sean, he didn't need it either.

    Weight loss is all a mind game. Get in the right mind set and you're good to go.

    Don't get me wrong, I know exactly how you feel. Every day is a struggle.

    I'm sure you will decide as to what is the right thing to do for you.

    Take care!

  10. I left a blog award for you in my pst for today

  11. I was horrified many months ago when I told my doctor I wanted to lose weight and she suggested lap band surgery. For me! I was fat enough that she was recommending major abdominal surgery! I have never told anyone that. A woman down the street from me who walks every night had the surgery. She can only eat a cup of food at a time, and can't drink water for an hour afterwards. We both exercise and eat less but I think I got the better end of the stick. At least I can eat what I want!
    Good post.

  12. I had a friend from church who did the surgery and 7 years later she was bigger than before the surgery. I saw a guy on Oprah who was the fattest man int he world or something and he has been losing weight on his own for over three years now VERY slowly and she asked him why he didn't get the surgery and he said because the problem he has is with his brain, not his stomach and they can't put a lap band on his brain. :)

  13. I concur with others about the surgery but I also wanted to say that I bet Dwayne has a different opinion about the loose skin when it happens gradually over time as opposed to it being a sudden shocker. And it's not like he's with you because he's holding out for the day when you become a 20 year old swimsuit model. ;-)

  14. Oh yes, this topic comes up every know and then.
    I would never do it---or recommend it-
    Unless they invent a surgery that gives you the complete mental transformation as well.

    I could write a book on why I feel this way---and I have before---not enough time tonight!!

    My best always

  15. Great post Tammy, and beautifully written. I think you handled this potentially controversial topic with dignity and good will. I too would never opt for surgery because like some of the comments above, it is in the head. And the surgery isn't going to fix that. Plus, I kind of have a hospital phobia.