Sunday, July 15, 2012

Second Chances

When I was first banded, I believed (and proclaimed) that one of the great things about the band is that if you get off track or backslide, you can always start over again. Get another fill, do a band refresher course, get back on the bandwagon, and eventually reach your weight goal. At the time, it seemed to be a benefit unique to the band, largely because of the “window of weight loss opportunity” myth widely circulated in the bariatric patient community. I thought that a gastric bypass, sleeve, or duodenal switch patient used up all their chances the first time they visited the operating room, and that we bandsters were a special breed.

Since then, I’ve watched dozens of WLS patients (bandsters and others) go back to the operating room again and again because their initial surgery choice disappointed them or caused complications. I realized that we do get second and even third chances, though with no guarantees of greater satisfaction or lesser complications. The new surgery choice worked for some, and not for others. I know of two ex-bandsters who died during or after their WLS revision, their deaths due more to a combination of terrible events than to the surgical procedure they had. I also know people who have succeeded wonderfully, and without complications, since their second or third bariatric procedure. Just as with the first try at bariatric surgery, it’s hard to predict how well patients will do after revision surgery. One thing does stay the same, though. At this time in history, there is no cure for obesity, not even the most drastic weight loss surgery, and because of that, weight regain is a specter that haunts us all.