Fear of the future (lapband)

by Christine on November 27th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Gastric Banding Surgery

I have a cousin, Shodi, that was one of the first people to have the lapband surgery, wayyyyy back when. She lives in Texas, and apparently her surgeon was the guy that “invented” the surgery.  She had the lapband and lost a bajillion pounds of weight, looks fantastic!  I didn’t know Shodi when she was overweight; the only time I really remember meeting her was a few years ago, and she looks healthy, normal, fit, and gorgeous!

But according to my mom, after she lost the weight, Shodi started having major issues with acid reflux. I don’t know all the details, but apparently Shodi’s surgeon decided to take all the saline out of the band. (He kept all the “hardware” inside her, just took all the fluid out.)  This was a while ago, and while the acid reflux issues were aleviated, Shodi started to gain weight again. According to my mom, Shodi has gained all the weight back and then some.

Apparently Shodi has returned to her surgeon to ask to start the fill process once again, but her surgeon said no. He told her that the only option left for her is to have gastric bypass surgery.

I don’t know the surgeon’s reasoning for this, whether the stomach acid is close to eroding the band through the stomach or what other medical complications may be. However, my cousin got the feeling that the surgeon was just trying to scam her for more money, more work. She doesn’t understand why she can’t just get a fill, especially since all the hardware is still in place. I don’t understand either.  (I recommended that she talk to another weight loss surgeon to ask those very questions. Get another opinion!)

All this leads me to be really apprehensive about my own band and my ability to keep the weight off. I know that in the next year I’m going to have to get my port taken out entirely because it sticks out in the most bizzarre way, and it will eventually push itself through my skin. (read more here)  That means I won’t even have the hardware in place in case I ever start gaining my weight back.I’ve always doubly-appreciated the band because of the peace of mind I feel that if I ever started to gain weight again, I would have the means to go to the doctor, get another fill, and keep my weight from ever being a problem again. But this is not necessarily the case, especially since I need to get my port removed.

Statistically, most gastric banding patients don’t lose very much weight. (Most patients lose approximately 30% of the weight they needed to lose. So, for me, I wanted to lose 100 pounds, but stasticically I should have only lost 30 pounds! The fact that I’ve lost all 100 pounds of the weight I needed to lose defies the odds.) Furthermore, most gastric banding patients gain all the weight back. I do not want to be a statistic. I know that I can fight these statistics by learning healthy eating behaviors and exercising regularly. In other words, don’t allow the band to be a crutch, but use the band as a means to live healthfully.  Although I feel like I’ve done that, I have this uneasy feeling that I might have the same problems as my cousin Shodi and gain weight down the road. I don’t want this to happen to me. I’m fearing the unknown future.

This is the only picture of Shodi that I could find of her “overweight.”

Here’s a picture of me with beautiful Shodi from a few years ago….2003 maybe? Can’t you tell we’re related?!? We have the same eyes!

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  • http://whywait-maude.blogspot.com/ Maude

    Just as a disclaimer, I don’t know much about the lap band. I haven’t gone back and read all of your posts and I’m not really clear on everything involved. So, with that in mind, I really think that your concerns are in many ways exactly the same as those of us who’ve never had surgery. There’s always something out there that can trigger us to regain the weight. Some kind of major life event, or even just a slow creep of the weight over time. But it really seems like you’re commited to this. The fact that you’ve lost so much more weight than average says that you’re not just relying on the band – you’ve put habits for long term maintenence in place. Maybe you’ll gain some weight when it comes out just because it’ll be a change, but you just have to focus on those same habits and stick to them. Just don’t get discouraged and throw in the towel. You’re already exceptional! You can definitely keep it off!

  • Rachelthinwithin1

    This post is so scary! I hate to hear statistics like that! But on the flip side, I’ve read your blog and realize that you have managed to make some very positive behavior modifications that are sustainable. For this reason and because of your level of awareness, I think you will beat the odds.

  • Libby

    Christine, have you thought of getting a second opinion about the port removal? Perhaps it would be possible to have it replaced? I would honestly be scared to have to have it removed at this point.

  • Rachelthinwithin1

    Have you gotten a 2nd opinion about the port placement? I suddenly remember during my orientation to the surgery group, my surgeon mentioned that he’s had a couple patients who lost a lot of weight and the port jutted out. He mentioned that he was able to reposition it. He did not remove it. He called it a readjustment. So maybe you another surgeon’s perspective?

  • Sarah

    why can’t you just have a port revision and get a low-profile port?

  • http://www.chroniclesfrombandland.blogspot.com Catherine55

    Christine — I have read the opposite statistic — that the vast percentage of bansters do NOT gain their weight back. It’s the bypass that is much less successful.

    Also, I asked my doctor about the statistic about bandsters only losing a certain percentage of their excess weight, and she told me that this is an average — it factors in the bandsters who gain because they drink milkshakes every day, and those who are not successful for other reasons. She told me that bandsters who commit to the lifestyle change and working out generally exceed their goals — and you and I fall into that group, as do so many other bandsters.

    That is really a shame about your cousin gaining all of her weight back. I worry about what would happen if I couldn’t use my band anymore — I am certain that I’d gain back at least some weight, but I also know that I’ve changed my life and habits enough that it’s unlikely I’d gain back all 82 pounds, since I exercise regularly now. It’s scary to think about though.