Weight Loss Surgery – Lap Band or RNY? Some comparisons.

Being just about two months post-op from gastric bypass (RNY) surgery, I wanted to take the opportunity to write about some of my comparisons between having the Lap Band vs. RNY. I know that for most people, the biggest worry, once you’ve decided you are a candidate for WLS is “which surgery should I have?” Your surgeon can advise you, friends and family can advise you – but in the end, it’s your decision.

In 2006 I made the choice to have Lap Band surgery. It hadn’t been around in my area too long then and it was considered ‘safe’ and ‘less invasive’. I had 130 pounds to loose then and the lap band helped me lose (only) about 40 pounds in the first year. I was frustrated, but I kept going. Over the next four years, with a lot of hard workouts, taking up jogging, etc., I managed to take off another 55 pounds. I remember one day my nutritionist asking me: “Do you wish you had the bypass?” I said – “Yes, probably.”

I’m not going to begrudge anyone from choosing the Lap Band – because for many who have to lose maybe 50-ish pounds, it can be the right choice. For me, it did help, but it wasn’t the right choice. I knew that in 2012 when the band “dilated” and stopped working. Aka: Failed Lap Band.

Having been “revised” to the RNY, I’m now in a good position to compare both of these options in weight loss surgery. Other than the amount of weight you will lose – there are quite a few differences I’ve noticed. So, from my experience here are the benefits of RNY:

  1. Post-surgery you are not really hungry – at least for the first six months. With the lap band, you don’t get the benefit of that curbed appetite. Since the RNY, my head is really not very hungry. Sure, I get hunger on occasion, but it is curbed with just a few bites – I call this my miracle!
  2. I was highly addicted to sugar and chocolate. Post-surgery, I have not yet craved chocolate at all. Again – this is my miracle.
  3. Of course, you will lose much more weight with the RNY. I lost about 40 pounds in the first year with the Lap Band. But at two months out with the RNY, I’ve already lost 30 pounds.
  4. The eating experience is very different! I think this is the key for many of us. When I had my lap band, it seemed everything got stuck ! I would be terrified to eat out because I just knew something would get stuck. I couldn’t eat steak, lobster, shrimp – among other things. I couldn’t eat salad. It really “bit” (pun intended) in my opinion. There were so many times I’d have to run to the rest room because, like an elastic band, my food would just boomerang back up. Many people might say – you didn’t chew enough…but, I will tell you – it was just plain difficult.
  5. With the RNY, on occasion I have not chewed enough because I’m being inattentive, but I must say – the RNY is so much easier. When something gets stuck – it hurts, oh boy does it hurt. But, it’s really very different from the band. Something about having the RNY – it just feels “more normal”. When I had the lap band, I really never felt normal.
  6. There is no “hardware” in me anymore. I could always feel the port with my lap band. I would do a sit-up or a crunch, and there it was. My boyfriend would hug me tight, and that port would hurt! I don’t miss that.
  7. With the RNY, you are forced to take better care of yourself. Now I know – if I eat too much sugar or fat, I am going to pay and pay hard for that. So, even when I eat out and enjoy that, I know I have to be careful to take care of myself. When I had the lap band, I could still eat ice cream, or cake – just in smaller amounts. For me, a food addict, this was not good. Now, with the RNY – I just “skip it”. I really don’t even want to put a sweet on my tongue for fear of “reactivating” that addiction for me. But, on the other hand, if I choose to do so – I know that it can only be one or two bites (literally) OR else – I will experience dumping syndrome.
  8. Dumping syndrome – do not fear! There are two reasons I chose the lap band the first time around. One was I didn’t want to dump. The other was, I was afraid to lose my hair. In retrospect – those weren’t valid reasons for me. I have never had an issue with getting in my protein or vitamins, so I don’t expect to lose any hair! Don’t let the masses scare you about that. If you remain complaint, your hair will be just as it is today! As for dumping – I rather like knowing that if I am not complaint, I will pay. It keeps me honest – it keeps me on track – it keeps me complaint!

I will continue to write about comparisons between these two surgeries as time goes on. But one thing I want to say – I love my “pouch”. If you are out there and reading this and you are afraid of weight loss surgery – don’t be! I have a long way to go on the scale and in this journey, but – I know one thing already – having the RNY has changed and will continue to change my life. I had an uphill battle with the lap band and, in the end, it failed me. It really did. Unfortunately, we now have the data to know that the lap band will fail too many somewhere between 5 and 7 years out. I never got to my goal with the lap band – I felt like a failure. But I know now I will get to my goal. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen!

Here’s to health, happiness and good hair days!

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6 week post-op Gastric Bypass Status & Retrospective !

Yesterday I had my 6 week follow-up appointment at my surgeon’s office.  I wasn’t too excited to weigh in because, like clockwork, his scale is always 7 pounds (exactly) higher than my scale at home.  At home, I weigh in the morning with  no extra weight on and at the doc’s I weigh in at the end of the day in clothes – so I have decided to ignore his scale and pay mind to my scale since that is the one I use weekly.  Problem solved – ignore the doctor’s scale! Indeed, yesterday his scale was 7 lbs higher than my home scale.

I was happy to report to my surgeon that I’ve had very little to complain about since my RNY on 8/11/14.  I am really thrilled with the results and honestly “I’m loving the pouch” as I like to say.

In retrospect, I surely wish I’d gotten the Bypass back in 2006 when I decided to go with the Lap Band.  (Reminder – my RNY surgery this year was a revision from the lap band).  The lap band helped me do two things – lose 40 pounds pretty fast and as I continued to work my butt off in the following 4 years, it did aid in my losing another 60 – because the band did help me from doing too much damage!  But in all honesty, that band was nothing but a pain in the you-know-what.  It was difficult to “work with”.  I always felt the port sticking through my skin.  I’d be doing a situp and feel it move.  And last but not least – It seemed I was always getting food stuck!

I feel lucky, in all honesty, that my lap-band “dilated” and in essence “failed” so I could get a revision to the RNY.  I really did get lucky – sounds silly right?  But truly – I got lucky.

I now feel like, for the first time since I was 21 years old, my goal-weight can be accomplished.  I know it won’t happen overnight, but by this time next year, it honestly makes me want to jump out of my skin thinking I could be in a size 10 jeans again.  Oh the thought of it!

My current status is that I’m down 27 pounds since my pre-op weight.  My surgeon was pleased with this stating that the average is 25 pounds in the first 6 weeks.  He expects me to take off another 25 in the coming 6 weeks again – Happily I say yes to that!

I have noticed this week I’ve been hungrier.  I was leveling out at 800 or 900 cals/day and my team told me I need to be up to 1000 now.  Ok!  I can do that.  Perfect timing too, because I guess my body is ready.

I started my walking program this week and plan to do a 5k at Thanksgiving time.  I’ll be pretty excited if I can plow through that with no problem.  I am excited to get back into this – I have really missed feeling strong and exercising.

So, again – here’s to health, happiness and good hair days!

-Kat

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First experience being “down in the dumps”!

I guess we all (and by “all” I mean RNY post-ops) do it — we make an error that causes us to “dump”!  OUCH!

I was just a month post-op last Thursday when we went away this past weekend. I was a bit anxious about dining out – it’s not something I really want to do very much right now.  I tried to be really careful of course, but as we know, we don’t really know exactly what a chef is putting into each dish.  So Friday night, my very first meal “out” – there it was – about one hour after eating at this amazing waterfront restaurant on the crystal coast of Carolina – pain in the center of my “gut”!  Then the weakness came on.  Then, I felt like I had the flu.  I knew right away – too much fat in my dinner tonight!!

Thankfully we ate late and when the “dumping” began, I was already in bed for the night.  I was able to just roll over and get through it.  But, I felt pretty guilty that I wasn’t more attentive. Excellent, a chance to beat up on myself I thought.  Old habits die hard.

Emotionally, it being my first time in a nice restaurant since surgery, it was a bit difficult.  My eyes wanted to gobble up everything on my boyfriend’s plate (yes, he had a rack of maple & bourbon glazed ribs — seriously!!), but in the end, I did not let my emotions run away. I looked out at the water and the beautiful sunset and just said out loud: “I am so grateful to be here”.  I was, indeed, grateful I could be there.  And I had this fabulous tool within me now so I was NOT able to overeat.  I was not able to eat all weekend and go home 5 or 8 pounds heavier.  I thought to myself: “Brilliant – I can be here in this beautiful place, have a few bites of some yummy things, and NOT have tight pants at the end of it all.”  Yes – brilliant!

It’s a strange life I’m living now with this “altered stomach” – some days it’s a bit overwhelming for a moment, but I just keep thinking: “I’m not giving up”.  I will do what it takes to be healthy and fit. If it doesn’t work one day, I will try again the next.  If I fall down – I will get back up again even stronger.  That’s how I have always been in life.  That’s who I am.  That’s how God made me and I am not going to let Him or myself down.

Giving up is NOT an option.

Here’s to health, happiness and good hair days :)

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4 weeks post-op – can this be love?

4 weeks ago today I was still in surgery (as I type this) with my RNY (aka: Gastric Bypass). My stomach as it was, would be forever altered. I feel so lucky because at only a few weeks out, I had already grown to love my new pouch. Over this past weekend as I walked through the grocery store, smelled the bakery and viewed the candy isle on my way to get bottled water – I realized I am in love with this new way of life. Why? Because I haven’t craved chocolate in 4 weeks. Because (at least for today) I can smell cookies without getting high and having to have “my fix”. This stomach alteration has given me the time and opportunity to truly (hopefully) get a grip on my food addiction. It may not last forever, but in the meantime, I am getting stronger and hopefully evolving to a better place other than the shackles of chocolate and baked goods!

Prior to this weight loss surgery, I took 2 Aleve everyday and sometimes Tylenol in between. Already, I have days where I take no Tylenol until just before bed when I take 1/2 of a Tylenol PM. Amazing. I didn’t have any other medical problems/medications (lucky me), so I have no other reports there. So for me, it truly is about my size.

I am down 22 pounds currently and while I had hoped I would take 30 off in the first 30 days, my support team has told me that 22 at this point is wonderful. So, I will be happy and just keep on with my “new rules” in life: (1) Be compliant – every single day. (2) Express gratitude – every single day. (3) Prayer. (4) Be complaint – in case I didn’t mention that.

I’ve never been an excellent rule follower in life, but this feels good. I know if I just “do the right thing” – every single day – I will not only get to my goal weight, but I will have built a fortress of strength and courage to never to return to the bondage of food. I am not saying it will be easy, but I am saying – I feel strong enough to do this – and I don’t just “think I can” .. “I know I can!”

Here’s to healthy, happiness and good hair days :)

-Kat Untitled

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3 weeks Post-Op

Most days for the past couple of weeks I feel like I’ve been “altered” by my RNY forever already – or at least a lot longer than a mere three weeks.  But I know that isn’t true because I’m still overweight.  Honestly, I thought I would have been a little lighter by now. I’m 20 pounds down and while I won’t complain, I admit, it baffles me how I can be eating between 500 and 900 cals/day with 80 or 90 g’s of Protein and ONLY have lost 20 lbs?

I won’t complain – again, I’m focusing on the positives: Maybe I won’t lose muscle mass; maybe I won’t have as many wrinkles, and so on.  Hmm, mostly I’m focusing on: “Why is that darn dress still too tight?”  :)

All in all, I am doing really well.  I’ve gotten a few “food items” “stuck” and gosh – I have got to learn NOT to do that.  Sometimes when I’m really hungry I forget – “go slow”!!  I tried some real food over the weekend (chicken, vege burger, and hmmm, something else) and yeah…ummm, no – not quite ready.  I have returned to puree/soups/etc. for at least this week.  I thought I was ready, but I guess not.  Ok, eating “real food” is really hard…I chewed each tiny bite like 50 times…and I was still stuffed after about 2 oz of food.  This is difficult on the head, that’s for sure!

Onward and forward….I truly had a goal of 30 lbs in 30 days….but, as I well know, my body can be very uncooperative.  I am so happy for those who lose 100 lbs in 6 months (kudos!!) but I am highly doubtful I will be so lucky.  More likely, this journey will be like the rest of my life – I have to work super hard for anything good.  But you know what – that just has to be OK.

My head is learning to love my RNY.  I do not have buyer’s remorse…I am only looking forward to a month, 6 months and a year from now.

Here’s to health, happiness, and good hair days :)

 

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2 weeks post-op

I have officially flipped the page to 2 weeks post-op. I find myself very eager to be saying 2 months post-op and hoping I’ve lost some phenomenal volume of weight. I keep reading about people who drop 100 pounds in the first six months…and I think – nope, that won’t be me. I just don’t lose weight that fast in this body! But, we’ll see.

My scale and my doctor’s scale are in complete disagreement about how much I weigh. Granted, I weigh there in the afternoons with clothing on. At home I weigh first thing, so I guess a 5 pound difference might not be that unexpected. So I’ve decided to go by my scale and my scale only – after all, that’s the one I use on a semi-weekly basis.

After weighing this morning I appear to be down approximately 18.5 pounds from my pre-op highest. I’ll take that. The minimum I want to be down after 1 month is 30 pounds – so, I’m past half-way there and “I think I can!”

Sunday and yesterday I had a bad day so I barely got any food in. I *thought* I was ready for some very small pieces of scrambled egg. So I made my boyfriend and our dog (haha) some scrambled and took a spoonful for myself. Silly me – at them too fast…and yup – got stuck! OUCH OUCH OUCH. Oh the pain! It took me 2 days of going back to liquid to clear it out – finally, last night I felt better. Ok, lesson learned!! Silly girl. I just wasn’t being attentive to my chewing – no idea why – it just perhaps isn’t a “habit” yet? I definitely learned my lesson!

Hope all of you reading this are doing well on your journey. The past two weeks feel like it’s been at least a month….perhaps the RNY changes time? haha. By the way, one thing I am noticing – I am just not into chocolate or strawberry flavors right now! I never thought I’d see the day where I don’t want something chocolate…it was my #1 addiction my entire life…but right now, all I want is vanilla. I pray this sticks – I would be declared a miracle if I never crave chocolate again. I hope it stays away!! I will gladly take that.

Wishing you a happy day…!
-Kat

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10-days post-op RNY

Already 10 days post-op? Yay!  I’m thrilled about that.  I am down about 13 pounds so far and starting to feel a little stronger.  Last night I finally got my bicycle out for a ride but really only got up the road and back.  I still have a lot of cramping/pain in my lower/left abdominal area where the Doc says a lot of bruising tends to happen inside.  (I try not to think about how my organs have been rearranged!!) :)

I am doing really well with food. I have no issues getting things down – am loving being able to have soup again (I love soups!).  I am getting in about 700 to 750 cals per day and trying to keep my protein about 90g per day to be on the safe side for me.

My favorite is the Unjury protein powder – I would highly recommend it.  And I am really enjoying the hot drinks and puddings from Bariatric Advantage (wonderlife line).  Lemon pudding for dessert – YUM!  I’m happy that there are so many products available so I can have flavors I enjoy without getting fat or sugar in.  Eventually I will start cooking myself, but right now, where this is all so new, I’m definitely going for convenience.  I love to cook, but I definitely don’t trust myself just yet.

Wishing everyone a blessed day.

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