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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Answers to Your Questions

I received many questions via email and I am pleased to provide you with my responses. After reading them and you still have more questions, please send me an email and I will elaborate further.

How do you physically feel since you have had surgery?
I feel AWESOME. I have more energy, my knee does not hurt, my feet do not hurt (unless I wear the wrong shoes), and my scars from surgery healed very well.

How much weight do you want to lose all together?
I would like to lose at least 130 pounds. I am nearly half way there. When I hit that goal, I will review my overall health and see if I need to adjust that number. For now, I want to be realistic.

How is this surgery different from Lap-Band or Gastric Bypass and having gone through this particular one would you select it again if you had to do it all over?
The Lap-Band is a plastic and adjustable silicone ring that is placed around the upper portion of the stomach creating a small pouch just above the ring. Its purpose is to restrict the amount of food you can take in at one time. The ring is connected to a tube with a port on the end that is attached to the muscle wall of the abdomen. The port allows the doctor access to fill the silicone ring to tighten (or loosen) the band. Side effects of the band can include:

  • Band slippage
  • Band erosion
  • Food getting stuck either in the new pouch or where the band sits
  • Vomiting
  • Acid reflux or heartburn
  • Feeling of tightness in chest
  • The stomach can actually grow over top of the band and cause it to embed itself into the stomach itself.
Gastric Bypass (Roux-en-Y) is when the stomach is stapled across the top, sealing it off from the rest of the stomach. The resulting pouch is about the size of a walnut and can hold about an ounce of food. The pouch is physically separated from the rest of the stomach. Then, the surgeon cuts the small intestine and sews part of it directly onto the pouch. This redirects food, bypassing most of the stomach and the first section of the small intestine. Food enters directly into the second section of the small intestine limiting the ability to absorb calories. Even though food never enters the lower part of the stomach, the stomach stays healthy and continues to release digestive juices to mix with food in the small intestine. Side effects of gastric bypass can include:

  • Gallstones or gall bladder infections
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach)
  • Vomiting
  • Anemia caused by iron or vitamin B12 deficiencies
  • Early osteoporosis cause by calcium deficiency
  • Dumping syndrome
Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy generates weight loss by restricting the amount of food (and therefore calories) that can be eaten by removing 85% or more of the stomach without bypassing the intestines or causing any gastrointestinal malabsorption. It is a purely restrictive operation. The stomach is restricted by stapling, dividing it vertically, and removing more than 85% of it. This part of the procedure is not reversible. Side effects of this procedure can include:

  • Leakage from staple lining
  • Vitamin deficiency if you don't eat a balanced diet (taking a multi-vitamin every day can prevent this)
  • Acid reflux
Would I make the same choice if I had to do this all over again? Absolutely. Of the three choices, I think I made the best choice and I have not had any of the side effects listed.

How does your family feel about you doing this?
No one has come out and said they were against it and so far they have supported my decision. They know how long I have struggled with my weight and how long I have wanted to have the surgery. Unfortunately, my side of the family lives in another state so they have not been able to see my progress in person.

I know people who have had gastric bypass can have "dumping syndrome" and people with Lap-Band can have constant heartburn. Are you having any side effects?
Per my response above, I have not suffered any side effects from this surgery. Quite a few "sleevers" have acid reflux but I have not.

What do you say to people who don't know you've had weight loss surgery and they have commented on how much smaller you look? Do you tell them you have had surgery?
I have been pretty open and honest about my surgery with most people. If they ask me how I have lost the weight, I tell them. I know there are people out there who have had weight loss surgery and are (or were) embarrassed to admit it because they feel like people will think less of them or that they took the lazy route. I have read many blogs from people who have felt this way and I feel sad for them. I have chosen to be very open about it.

How much did the surgery cost? Does insurance cover it?
My type of procedure costs nearly $14,000. Most insurance policies cover this procedure but it can take quite a long time to get it approved. I have met people who got it approved right away and some who had to go through several months of supervised weight loss attempts, psychological evaluations, and numerous tests before they got it approved. Some will get denied and will have to self-pay if they want it done. Each company/policy is different.

Do you have any restrictions on what you can do or eat?
So far, I have not had any restrictions. My nutritionist recommended I stay away from red meat for one year because it can take a while to digest. I do not eat much red meat anyway so this has not been a problem for me. I chew my food really well so it does not just sit in my stomach and I choose to eat meats that are softer (fish, chicken, or ground turkey). I can eat what I want but I choose to eat healthy. Each day, I take in 80-100 grams of protein, try to take in less than 30 grams of carbohydrates, less than 20 grams of fat, and I eat between 700-800 calories per day.

I read an article somewhere that said if you increase your water intake by 16 ounces above the recommended 64 (total of 80), you can increase your metabolism by 30%. Since I read that, I drink between 80-96 ounces a day (which makes for many trips to the restroom).


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