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:
- 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!
- I was highly addicted to sugar and chocolate. Post-surgery, I have not yet craved chocolate at all. Again – this is my miracle.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!