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Lap Band - Why Do It and What To Expect

Updated on June 9, 2014

Why Have The Surgery

It took me a long time and several medical problems before I took the bull by the horns and decided to go through with having weight loss surgery. I had always been a chubby kid and as an adult it got worse. So much so that I became a Type II diabetic, had high blood pressure, high cholestorol and sleep apnea. All the problems of the obese without dropping dead. But I was on my way there.I had been on Weight Watchers multiple times but it never "stuck" and I always gained it back. My highest was 352, and I always had a hard time walking, climbing stairs, etc. I look back now and wonder what was I thinking? I was an emotional eater for sure. Food was my friend. I had a lot of human friends, but that wasn't enough. I wasn't happy and I could do something about it but didn't. I got married to a wonderful man at my highest weight. He was very accepting and supportive. Part of the reason I got the band was to get off my medications and take my life back. I wanted to live a long life with this wonderful man. Unfortunately, that wasn't meant to be, but that's another hub...

Anyway, so my primary doctor referred me to my bariatric surgeon. Luckily for me there is a Bariatric Center of Excellence locally, Palms of Pasadena. My surgeon was Dr. Ernest Rehnke. Great guy, very nice and has lots of experience. The first challenge was finding out what my insurance company required to approve the surgery. The girl in the doctor's office does some of the leg work, but basically they needed my doctors notes from 3 month's worth of appointments showing that I had the co-morbidities (High blood pressure, diabetes..)and that she recommended the surgery. To have the surgery you have to have a BMI of 30 or above and at least 2 co-morbidities. I certainly qualified. You have to get an EKG a certain number of days before the surgery as well. Each insurance is different so it's just one stumbling block to work through. You'll need to pay your deductible as well. Also there are many types of weight loss surgery, choose the one that best suits you.

What To Expect

I'll be honest here, the worst part was the two week liquid diet leading up to the surgery. 3 protein shakes a day, that's it. It was torture. But not all surgeons require it. Some put you on a restricted diet, not liquid. It's all for shrinking your liver, which is in the way during surgery. It's just two weeks but it feels like forever. Believe me, it's worth it.

So it's an overnight stay, at least with this doctor. They advertise it as an outpatient procedure but I'm sure glad it was overnight for the pain meds at the very least and for the safety of it. Happened on a Friday morning and went home Saturday around noon. As someone who has never had an operation I was amazed. Went right to sleep and then bam it was over and I was in recovery. For me it just felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach by a Clydesdale, not a pony. So, LOTS of pain meds. But overall it was a quick recovery. It's laparoscopic, five incisions, just one large one where they push the liver aside. Not that big though, maybe 3 inches. Another issue is gas from the surgery where they have to blow up your abdominal cavity. Some people claim they have alot of pain from it, but I didn't. It gets expelled one way or the other. They can give you anti-gas meds and that helps. Getting up and moving is essential. A couple days at home and then you are back to life.

They start you on broth after the surgery and slowly work you back to solids. You definitely have to get used to a new way of eating. Protein shakes are real savior. Go to the support groups when you can. More experienced banders have good tips! The mantra from the educational nurse, who has the lap band herself, is "eggs, cheese and meats!!" And she doesn't eat anything with color she says like ketchup, apples, blueberries, strawberries since they have a high calorie/sugar content. The diet soda I was addicted to is out of my diet because it tastes horrible to me now. I'm glad, it's not good for you anyway.

I've lost 66 lbs at last count and I exercise in one form or another every day. Walking is no longer a chore. That is so freeing! I'd highly recommend this surgery if you struggle with your weight or are on medications. Do it before it's too late! The pros outweigh the cons. Medicare even approves now, and the insurance companies are jumping on board. Take your life back!

The pros far outweigh the cons!

It does take some getting used to. You have to chew your food thoroughly and choose what you ieat wisely. If I eat out I eat a lot of soups or appetizers. Save some money! Mainly because I had to learn what would get "stuck" in my esophagus on top of the band. This can be quite uncomfortable but will pass. I just have to burp a few times and wait for relief. Sometimes people throw it right back up, but you just have to be careful. The pluses outweigh the minuses. You just learn what you can tolerate. Check out the seminars that are given about the surgery, they are very informative, Good luck!!

Video of the surgery


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