Ask A Healer Women's Health Series
Considering gastric bypass or lapband surgery?
by N J Howell and Lynn Cleckler
Gastric Band Surgery
What to do Before Surgery
Celebrity Carne Wilson brought gastric bypass surgey to the mainstream when she went public with her own struggles with losing weight.
Gastric bypass surgery is being chosen as an option for help in cases of morbid obesity and where health challenges from being overweight have compromised the quality of life. However, no surgery is without risks and warnings and this article is a personal sharing about the procedure, the aftereffects and the healing process. Click here to learn more about the Roux-en-Y procedure, the most common form of this type of surgery.
The following Q and A is with a normal, everyday person (and a dear friend of mine) who elected to have gastric bypass surgery. She tells of her experience in hopes of helping others who may be considering this type of surgery as an option for losing weight or to address health challenges from being overweight.
Question: What made you decide to have this surgery?
Lynn's Answer: My decision was based on years of trying to lose weight, only to find myself in worse shape after the "diet". In addition, I had three herniated discs, resulting in lumbar stenosis which had caused great pain for many years. The added weight really added to the pain... so I am certainly sure that losing weight is helping me to feel so much better.
Question: How do you understand what happens when a person has a gastric bypass? What is the
procedure and what does it do?
Lynn's Answer: I attended a seminar explaining both the gastric bypass (which is what I had) and the lapband in order to help determine which surgery was right for me. Here is one link that might help you understand what it is - and I am sure there are lots of others out there. Lynn shared the following resource, on gastric laprobypass surgery
Question: What is the one thing you wish your doctor had told you, or explained better?
Lynn's Answer: Nothing, really. They had the seminar, a physical therapy evaluation, a psych evaluation and I met with a nutrionist - so we had every opportunity to get any and all questions answered.
Question: What was the worst side effect you experienced?
Lynn's Answer: I have been pretty lucky, because I followed the doctor's orders and did not over eat or eat things I wasn't suppose to have. It has been smooth sailing for me - the worse thing has been if I tried to eat something too spicy and got a little sick to my stomach.
I think it is a matter of trial and error - some things I might can eat that might bother someone else, and vice versa. Some people are not so lucky and experience vomiting but should take all precautions to avoid this if possible.
Question: To what do you attribute your ease of recovery from your gastric bypass surgery?
Lynn's Answer: Basically, I took it seriously and was serious about following my doctors' orders. For example, I did not pick up anything heavier than a gallon of milk for at least a week; did not drive; did not over eat or eat anything that was not on my post-op diet.
I was also careful about my nutrition, remembering to drink plenty of water and working diligently on getting all the necessary protein, vitamins and calcium daily.
Question: What were the do's; you know, the things the doctor said would help you heal?
Lynn's Answer: He said exercise when able, again, the not lifting, not really many "dos" to help heal - more of a process and your body working for you than anything on that account.
Question: What were the don't's; you know, things your doctor said NOT to do, to help you heal?
Lynn's Answer: My doctor said not to eat red meat or any veggies that were stringy in nature. There is a post op diet that I had to follow for a month after surgery.
My doctor also advised that I should not eat sugar, because it can cause a thing called dumping syndrome which really, from what I am told,
makes you very sick to your stomach and even vomiting may occur.
You DON'T want to vomit after surgery because it can cause ulcerated places near where your tummy was operated on and many other problems that I can go into in more detail if you need me to - but mainly they need to consult with their doctors and nutrionist about the do's and don'ts - from what I understand - doctors rules vary by doctor.
Question: What type of exercise can you do after such a surgery?
Lynn's Answer: Well, in my case, my doctor approved water aerobics, which I do five days a week. You should always check with your doctor to see what exercise they want
you to do afterwards though, because each case is different.
In my particular case, having the back problems I have, it is very hard to use a treadmill or workout equipment and I find that because your body is lighter in the water the exercise is much easier to do. You also get the benefit of more resistance in the water and for that reason, you actually get a much better workout than you might just doing normal exercises. I am now taking a toning class once a week (also in water) - which is hard to do - but getting better.
Question: A lot of people may not know about water aerobics and it seems like the
perfect exercise after a bypass. Do you think so?
Lynn's Answer: I agree that water aerobics is the perfect exercise. Not only does it take so much of the impact off your joints and your back, but it also allows you to move more freely than if you were on land. For instance, I can jog easily in the water and on land I find it very difficult because of weight and back issues. Still, check with your doctor before starting a fitness program,
after you've had your gastric bypass.
Question: Do you think gastric bypass is for everyone who has weight issues?
Not at all. I think you have to be committed to making a lifestyle change, or if you aren't you can find ways to get around the surgery and gain the weight back - it happens - I just think if you go this far, you need to be seriously dedicated to changing your habits that put you in bad shape to begin with.
I know one person who has the same surgery a month before me and at 6 weeks, that person was already going to a fast foods place to get a ice cream, simply because their stomach could tolerate it.
To me, that is just crazy! I am not saying never have anything sweet anymore but if you are not serious about changing your lifestyle to be more healthy after the surgery, why bother having it?
Question: What is the most important thing you would suggest that people considering
gastric bypass do, to help their recovery and adjustment afterwards?
Lynn's Answer: I would suggest they meet with a nutrionist, that they diligently take their vitamins with iron (and B-12 is very important) and calcium - making sure they get plenty of protein to help them feel better, have more energy, keep them from having hair loss, and help them keep muscle. I would also suggest joining a weighloss support group and exercising.
Question: If you had it to do over, would you?
Lynn's Answer: Absolutely!
My name is Lynn Cleckler and I had gastric bypass surgery in December 2006. It was the best decision I could have ever made. My health was at stake. I urge you to join our
Alabama Weight Loss Surgery online group and become part of a support system of people who understand the battles of obesity. The subscribe email is AlabamaWLSgroupfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Losing weight with body wraps
Health Care Disclaimer: The information contained in this health care interview about gastric bypass surgery is not intended to take the place of medical advice concerning losing weight if morbidly obese, medically dealing with morbid obesity or health challenges stemming from obesity. As with any surgery, there are risks to gastric bypass and you should be fully informed by your doctor as to what those risks
may be in your situation.