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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 01-17-14, 05:12 PM   #1
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Bariatric Surgery

Has anyone here had any experiences, good or bad, with bariatric surgery for weight loss? I'm beginning to wonder if that's what it's going to take for me to lose what I need to.
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Old 01-17-14, 05:26 PM   #2
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Bariatric surgery has its place but is not a cure-all for obesity. There are risks involved and not everyone has a good outcome. Even if the surgery goes well, it requires major lifestyle changes and a certain percentage of people gain some or all of the weight back. If you are considering it, I suggest you consult your physician and seek the advice of a counselor who works with bariatric patients to make sure it is the right choice for you. Contrary to popular perception, bariatric surgery is not the "easy" way to becoming slim and trim.

I know a several people who have had the surgery and about half are very pleased with the outcome. The other half vary from "not what I expected" to "dang I wish I hadn't done it". Personally, I know only one person who had a very bad outcome and I don't know how much of that can be attributed to the surgery itself.
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Old 01-17-14, 05:45 PM   #3
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I have a friend who had the surgery a few years ago. We had a long discussion about it and she shared that after the surgery, she still had an eating problem. The surgery hadn't solved the problem that was the root cause of why she ate. In the end she had a positive outcome but she believes the surgery was not the fix. Also she said it's something that can't be undone and she is restricted about some of the foods that she eats.
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Old 01-17-14, 06:45 PM   #4
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I know several people whom have had this surgery. Some of them I just know had it and I've known them large most of their life but have only seen once or twice post surgery. My pastor had it and he has stayed thin all this time.

A coworker had the surgery. It wasn't long until I saw his lunches get larger and larger at work. Within a year, he was back to about half way to the size he was prior.

Unless you make major changes to your life, I don't think the surgery is very safe in my non-medical expert opinion.
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Old 01-17-14, 08:15 PM   #5
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I've known several people that have had it, 7 to be exact. Only 3 changed their eating habits and got more active and they had great success, the others, not so much. I think you need to think, why am I doing this? Will it be a tool in my arsenal of weight fighting or are you going to say, ok, I've done that, weight fall off. If the latter, then you need to think of another plan. So many people that Bari surgery is a magic potion.
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Old 01-17-14, 10:48 PM   #6
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I know one person who had it at about 18, now in her 30's she is twice as heavy and has issues due to the surgery. Watch the my 600lb life series, the one on netflix is very good.
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Old 01-18-14, 03:21 AM   #7
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.

My perspective is skewed because I don't know anyone personally that has had it, but I worked in one ICU for two years that had a number of patients from failed surgeries. From what I saw of that, I would never risk the surgery. Especially since the only guarantee of success with it is to change your lifestyle anyway...
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Old 01-18-14, 04:33 AM   #8
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It's been about 11 years for me. I went from 475 down to about 175, and from using a cane to riding my bike nearly 10000 miles a year. I've gone into more details in other posts if you want to search back for them.

But basically nothing is the complete answer. I still have major, major eating issues. At this point I have absolutely no restriction on the amounts I can eat, so I have to maintain my weight the same way anybody else would -- and it's HARD. It was the right answer for me, or I'd have been dead now for many, many years. But be realistic and have a good support system.

There can be a bit much cheerleading going on, but check out obesityhelp.com for more information
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Old 01-21-14, 07:11 AM   #9
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Thanks, everyone. This certainly gives me something to think about.
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Old 01-21-14, 10:25 AM   #10
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A coworker had the surgery. It wasn't long until I saw his lunches get larger and larger at work. Within a year, he was back to about half way to the size he was prior.
The woman who is now my secretary had it several years ago when she had a different position. Over time i have seen her slowly put weight back on. I am talking more than a few pounds. I occasionally see what and how often she eats and I am not suprised. Lots of fatty, surgery stuff, like breakfast sandwiches from a local convenience store and coffee drinks with whipped cream. Holiday time is the worst for her around work. We get lots of holiday graft, like boxes and boxes of chocolates and other candy as well as cookies galore. She constantly snacks on them. Like other have mentioned, there is often a root cause that is not addressed by the surgery. In her case, I think it's the abusive relationship I have been told she is in. I met her husband once at a dinner and he was a total jerk to her. Very demeaning.
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Old 01-21-14, 01:54 PM   #11
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I have 3 friends who had bariatric surgery. One was super morbidly obese and had many health issues. The other two were like me - just struggled on anf off with weight issues for years. One was diabetic and the other had chronic hypertension. I personally tried to get the surgery but could not qualify. Not heavy enough and too healthy ( a plus I guess).

Long story short... the outcome was so-so for all. My super heavy friend did OK at first. I think she lost about 100 lbs (she needs to lose 250)but has gained back about 70... She still has the crappy eating habits she had before and was/is not diligent about going through the dietician classes. All three friends have struggled with stomach issues and knowing/learning what their bodies can handle/tolerant.

Bottom line - losing weight is hard. The surgery is major, extremely invasive. Learning to deal with the effects after are very tough and you need to go through the dietary classes and followup care religiously.

Frankly you would be better off doing Weight Watchers and just learn good eating habits. I am sure there are success stories as well but think long and hard before you do it... If your problem is being compulsive and also lazy about what you eat, surgery won't fix that.
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Old 01-23-14, 11:42 AM   #12
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(Disclosure: I've had the lap-band style surgery.)

I'd certainly suggest changing physical activity and food intake first. For some people, that can be Weight Watchers, or getting help from a nutritionist, or working with a personal trainer. A lot of people are able to lose weight that way.

And many people either don't lose weight to begin with, or gain the weight back.

When looking at the risk of surgery -- and it's important to do that, because the risks are real -- it's important to compare them against the risks of doing no more than you've already done, or what you think you would do next without the surgery.

I think of it like quitting smoking: most of the people who have quit smoking successfully have quit "cold turkey". But some people who couldn't quit that way, or couldn't stay quit, have had good results with other interventions (nicotine patches/gums, Zyban, Chantix, etc). We don't tell the people who benefitted from extra help that they didn't "really" quit smoking.
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Old 01-23-14, 12:05 PM   #13
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I have one aunt that had the surgery, and one uncle that was going to but opted out. Here's my take: The diet regiment that you have to go through is rigorous. After my uncle told me what his pre and post surgery diets were going to consist of, I said holy crap, skip the surgery, just do the diet, throw in a little exercise and you'll loose the weight anyway. This diet was crazy; super restrictive in both type and quantity of food he was going to be able to eat. I don't get it. With the surgery you have to drastically alter your diet pre and post op, and also alter your eating habits long term to keep the weight off. Why not just pick up something like the engine 2 diet, stick with it, and get the results that way. Either way you have to alter diet. Skipping the surgery to me seems like the easier option. And my aunt who had the surgery about 4 years ago is gaining weight back.
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Old 01-23-14, 01:05 PM   #14
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If I recall, the hazards of bariatric surgery are pretty severe... like 1% mortality or something? I could be inventing that, don't hate me, but I would seriously avoid anything that had a 1% chance of killing me.

OK, I'm not nuts. it's improved but it's still VERY FREAKING HIGH!
[h=4]BACKGROUND: (link)[/h]Bariatric surgery has become an established treatment for extreme obesity. Bariatric surgery mortality has steadily declined with current rates of less than 0.5%. However, significant variation in the mortality rates has been reported for specific patient cohorts and among bariatric centers.



Didn't former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis have that surgery? He actually had last rites administered to him in the hospital and he still looks fat as hell to me.

Which brings me to another point - these people who make that much money... I can't afford to do it but why don't they hire a freaking personal chef to do their shopping and cooking for them? They could follow you around with a little basket of healthy snacks. I guess it's true, it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with will power.
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Old 01-23-14, 02:05 PM   #15
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My wife knew somebody that a day after the surgery at 45 dropped dead. It had to do with the surgery. I'm not sure I would even take a 1 in 200 chance if that could be the outcome.
My thought on surgery like this is if they take it out, there is no putting it back in. My Sister in law had her gall bladder out in the hope that it fixed a problem. Now she is worse because of the foods she can eat and complications when she eats bad food. She goes to the hospital so much she has a wing named after her. She is in the hospital at least twice a year and ER four times.
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Old 01-23-14, 02:22 PM   #16
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I did not have the surgery however my DH and I went to a couple of the information group sessions. I got enough info that I was able to decide it was not for me.
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Old 01-23-14, 02:40 PM   #17
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Try weight watchers, if that works then you have a solution. If it doesn't, wls may not be the right choice.
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Old 01-24-14, 04:22 AM   #18
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Saying "just do the diet" is unrealistic. I was a champion dieter. Over the course of 25 years I lost at least 4 or 500 pounds. Some of the diets I followed successfully for as long as a year. But the truth is that almost all people who lose substantial amounts of weight through dieting gain it back. By the end of the process I had dieted my way up to 475 pounds.

You will never find me to be a cheerleader for bariatric surgery. But for some people, including me, it was literally a last resort. I don't know what the odds were of my dying were without the surgery, but I guarantee you it was a lot higher than 1 in 200.
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Old 01-24-14, 06:25 AM   #19
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Saying "just do the diet" is unrealistic. I was a champion dieter. Over the course of 25 years I lost at least 4 or 500 pounds. Some of the diets I followed successfully for as long as a year. But the truth is that almost all people who lose substantial amounts of weight through dieting gain it back. By the end of the process I had dieted my way up to 475 pounds.

You will never find me to be a cheerleader for bariatric surgery. But for some people, including me, it was literally a last resort. I don't know what the odds were of my dying were without the surgery, but I guarantee you it was a lot higher than 1 in 200.
That is the point some people are making here. If "just do the diet" is unrealistic, then after surgery how is it any more realistic? If you can't do the diet mentally without the surgery, how are you going to do the diet mentally after surgery? Either way with or without the surgery, you would be doing the same "diet." The surgery just makes it so that it is physically impossible to eat a lot, that is until you stretch the stomach out again and are back to eating like it was prior to the surgery. That is what is going on with a coworker. He was eating tiny bites of food for lunch. That's all he was physically able to eat. Over time, he ate larger and larger bites and is now eating 12 inch Subway hoagies and a bag of chips for lunch, probably along with his usual case of beer every night.
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Old 01-24-14, 07:02 AM   #20
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Failure is not inevitable, whether you choose to try diet and exercise alone, or whether you choose surgery to help you jump-start the process.

I had 25 years of failure doing it on my own.

I'm coming up on 12 years of success using the other option. Surgery didn't do anything for me theoretically that I couldn't have done on my own (except for the minor malabsorptive aspect, which was minimal in the form of surgery I had; more extreme with certain other types; and non-existent with lap band.) But it gave me 2 or 3 years of positive reinforcement (in the form of rapid weight loss) and some negative reinforcement (in the form of eating restrictions.)

After losing 100+ pounds at least three times over the years, it still left me 100 or 150 pounds overweight, unable to do meaningful exercise, and basically still living a life of depression and social isolation. A rude kid in the mall doesn't hesitate to point and laugh at somebody "only" 100 pounds overweight, as opposed to somebody who was my size, believe me.

As I said in the earlier post, after 2 or 3 years your success is up to you. Obviously some people choose to sabotage themselves and go back to earlier bad habits. These are where the famous "my co-worker eats chips all day" stories come from. I think of the 2 or 3 years as a head-start, like an airplane heading down the taxiway, and then the runway, and finally taking off. After that I had to learn to fly on my own.

I've been flying solo for 8 years now and counting. Just as failure is not inevitable, neither is success, and I'm accountable for my own actions from now to the rest of my life.
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Old 01-24-14, 09:57 AM   #21
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I would never consider it for myself, or recommend it for others. My wife has expressed interest, and I have stated that she will get no support from me for it.

If you read the literature for "post surgery diet", after an initial liquid diet phase, it reads exactly like what is recommended of weight loss without the surgery. So you want to deform your body surgically in order to force your self to do things that can be done without surgery? I know several who have had the surgery then put all the weight back on, and then some. If you want to lose weight, you have to want to make the changes.
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Old 01-24-14, 11:49 AM   #22
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if you want to lose weight, you have to want to make the changes.
amen!
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Old 01-24-14, 01:05 PM   #23
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Which brings me to another point - these people who make that much money... I can't afford to do it but why don't they hire a freaking personal chef to do their shopping and cooking for them? They could follow you around with a little basket of healthy snacks. I guess it's true, it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with will power.
This is what I don't get about Chris Christy. He had the surgery, when he was in a great position to do just this. I would if I had money, and a state paid staff. I bet Barak Obama quit smoking by ordering his PP detail to not give him any ("what ever I say, beg or plead, don't give me any!"). It's not like he could sneak down to the local 7-Eleven for a pack of smokes.
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Old 01-25-14, 01:39 PM   #24
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If I recall, the hazards of bariatric surgery are pretty severe... like 1% mortality or something? I could be inventing that, don't hate me, but I would seriously avoid anything that had a 1% chance of killing me.

OK, I'm not nuts. it's improved but it's still VERY FREAKING HIGH!
BACKGROUND: (link)
Agreed. There's a risk of death associated with any surgery, and it's higher for something like a gastric bypass than it is for something like an appendectomy. But you need to compare that against the risks of not having surgery.

Now, you can't do a randomized trial for this. You can't line people up and tell them whether or not they're going to have surgery. But what you can do is look at people who would qualify for surgery, and see how the folks who choose surgery do long-term compared to the ones who don't. (Of course, you control for things that we know influence outcome, like diabetes, weight at the beginning of the study, smoking history, and so forth.)

This has been done.

Some key results from the "Swedish Obese Subjects" trial, as published in the Journal of Internal Medicine in March 2013, p219-234(click here for abstract):
  • After 2 years, the average weight loss for the surgery group was 23%; for the non-surgery, 0%
  • After 10 years, the average weight loss for the surgery group was 17%; for the non-surgery, -1% (ie, gained weight)
  • After 15 years, the average weight loss for the surgery group was 16%; for the non-surgery, 1%
  • After 20 years, the average weight loss for the surgery group was 18%; for the non-surgery, 1%
  • "Compared with usual care, bariatric surgery was associated with a long-term reduction in overall mortality"

If you look at this graph, it shows what percentage of people died. The folks who had surgery are shown on the green line; the folks who didn't are on the pink line. As a reminder, the folks who didn't have the surgery could pick any other way to lose weight they wanted. And yes, a higher percentage of people who chose the surgery died in the first year. But 10 or 15 years down the road? Then, surgery looks like a much better option.



Again, I'm not here to tell anyone that any particular weight loss method is the best one for that person. But if you're afraid of surgery because sometimes, people die afterwards -- remember that choosing not to have surgery can also be associated with an increased risk of death.
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Old 01-25-14, 05:06 PM   #25
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Agreed. There's a risk of death associated with any surgery, and it's higher for something like a gastric bypass than it is for something like an appendectomy. But you need to compare that against the risks of not having surgery.
Obviously it's not a straightforward nor easy decision and you know a lot more about it than I do, but if I'm not mistaken the banding procedure is less dangerous to your immediate health than the actual bypass (although it seems from that abstract that they are including it as one of the forms of bariatric surgery).

Anyway, to ME, if faced with the necessity of having a procedure done that carried a high percentage chance of immediate death, I'd like to think it would shock me into some sort of action. Based on the results of that study you linked, it would appear that it's not true for the general population of people they studied... at all, so I may be deluding myself. It's pretty apparent that people don't turn to this kind of treatment as a first course of action either.

Fat Swedish people? Who knew! I thought only americans were fat.
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