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My Daily Personal Essay: Lap Band Surgery

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Check out my May 2011 essay on my decision to get lap band surgery. You can click on the link to see the article on My Daily’s website or read it as it appears below.

My Daily Essay on Weight Loss

Lap Band Surgery Was the Best Thing I Ever Did for Myself

Posted May 5th 2011 at 8:00AM by Paula Rosenberg
paual rosenberg before pictureCourtesy of Paula Rosenberg

I have been overweight ever since I can remember. During my teens and early 20s, I was on so many different diets and they all had the same results — I’d lose 20 pounds, plateau, give up and gain back what I lost plus an additional 10 or 20 pounds. I really thought I was just meant to be the fat girl.

I knew about weight loss surgeries, but didn’t think they were for me. I had friends and acquaintances who had some success with gastric bypass, but there seemed to be a lot of complications and I knew many people who had gained the weight back after losing it. I’d also heard about lap band, but didn’t know a lot about the procedure.

Three years ago, I was encouraged by my doctor and several friends and relatives to look into weight loss surgery. I met with a surgeon and a nutritionist for an initial consultation. It was awful. I felt like the surgeon was treating me like a 5-year-old who didn’t know how to keep her hand out of the cookie jar. I asked him about lap band and told him I was interested in learning more. He dismissed my questions and said the only thing that would work for me would be traditional gastric bypass.

That meeting reinforced my decision to avoid surgery. Instead, I decided to make some major life changes and lose the weight myself.

I started counting calories, exercising on a regular basis and monitoring what foods I was bringing into the house. I lost 60 pounds, but once again found myself back in familiar territory: I wasn’t able to lose any more weight.

I plateaued for more than a year and then gained back about 20 pounds after a workout injury put me out of commission for a few months. As the numbers on the scale crept back up, I couldn’t bear to think that I might be back at my starting weight again — or, worse yet, even heavier. I knew I needed to give surgery another chance. I had tried everything else.

So I went to an information session at NYU’s medical center. It was a complete 180 compared to the experience I’d had with the surgeon. The doctors and staff were caring and had wonderful bedside manners. They were willing to answer any questions I had. They not only informed me about lap band surgery, but recommended that it would be a good option for me.

The lap band is a tool that helps patients feel fuller after eating a smaller amount of food. The band is placed around the patient’s stomach so that a small pouch is created. The food only goes into the golf-ball-sized pouch, so the person gets fuller faster.

I liked the sound of the procedure for a number of reasons. The surgery would be done laparoscopically and I would be able to go home the same day. The recovery time would be quick — I only had to take three days off work. Most importantly, the surgery was described as a tool, not a solution. I would be responsible for making good eating choices and exercising on a regular basis.

After going through a three-month medically supervised diet and exercise program, meeting with a nutritionist and surgeon and having a psychiatric evaluation, my insurance company approved lap band surgery for me.

I had to go on a two-week liquid diet prior to surgery in order to shrink the fat around my liver so there would be fewer risks of complications. After the operation, I was on another 10-day liquid diet and then a 10-day puréed food diet before I could start on solid foods.

The changes to my life seem so minor. I have to cut up my food into small pieces, chew it well and wait 30 seconds in between bites. There are certain things I can’t eat like steak and chicken breasts because they’re too tough and untoasted bread because it’s too doughy. Small sacrifices to make.

Two weeks before surgery, I weighed 295 pounds and was wearing a size 26. Now, less than eight months later, I weigh 212 pounds and recently fit into some size 14 pants.

I still have a way to go. Lap band patients generally lose weight over the course of 18 months to two years. Results happen more slowly with this procedure than with some other surgical options, which is one of the reasons I chose it. I like that I am losing weight at what feels like a healthy and manageable pace.

I’ve also noticed that through exercising and toning, my skin is able to adjust to my body as it shrinks, so I will hopefully have less of a need for plastic surgery to remove excess skin once I reach my goal weight. The biggest attraction of lap band surgery for me is the knowledge that it’s a tool, not a solution, and I’m responsible for making healthy changes in my life in order to achieve permanent weight loss.

paual rosenberg after pictureCourtesy of Paula Rosenberg

I have experienced some fun changes over the past few months. It’s wonderful fitting into smaller sizes and having more options when shopping for clothes, and I never get tired of the compliments I get from friends and family on my new figure. But the real rewards are the improvements to my health. Before surgery, I had high blood pressure. That’s no longer an issue. I have more energy and don’t get winded after simple activities, like climbing a flight of stairs.

What has been essential to me throughout the process is the support system I’ve had. My surgeon’s office has a monthly support group for patients, and the online assistance at lapband.com and other websites is available 24 hours a day. Surrounding myself with family and friends who are encouraging has been essential. I only told people I knew would be supportive that I have a lap band. I’m not ashamed of my decision, but it was important to me to avoid unsolicited advice from people who’d make negative comments. Not everyone understands weight loss surgery, and there are a lot of stigmas against it. Some people think of it as a short cut or the easy way to shed a lot of pounds. It is not easy. All weight loss surgeries have risks and potential complications. Eating well and exercising have to be incorporated into your daily life. You have to be committed to making changes in order to be successful post-surgery.

Getting the lap band was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I did it because I wanted to be healthier. I’m certain that I have added years onto my life. Even though I have just embarked on this journey, I know it was the right decision for me.

Filed Under: Crazy Diet Confessions, MyDaily Originals, Mind & Body

Tags: lap band surgeryLapBandSurgeryweight loss surgeryweight-loss

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Written by paularosenberg

June 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm

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