Monday, February 18, 2013

The Top 10 Things to Know About the Adjustable Gastric Band (according to Jean)

1. You will not wake up in the recovery room at your goal weight. Average weight loss with the band is 1-2 pounds per week, and virtually no one loses weight at a nice steady pace of (say) 1.75 pounds per week. Some weeks you’ll lose, some weeks you’ll stall and some weeks you’ll gain, but as long as the overall trend is downward, you’re doing great!

2. Slower weight loss with the band does not prevent sagging or excess skin. How your skin reacts to massive weight loss depends mostly on your genetics and your age. As we age, our skin loses elasticity. If the possibility of sagging or excess skin worries you, start tossing your change into a plastic surgery piggy bank now!

3. Weight loss surgery (of any type) does NOT cure obesity. Obesity is a chronic and incurable disease characterized by relapse and recurrence. Although bariatric surgery is currently the most effective way of treating obesity, obesity is something you’re going to have to manage for the rest of your life, with or without surgery. For most of us, a tool like the adjustable gastric band makes that a lot easier, but it’s not effortless, either.

4. Many eating problems after band surgery are due to user error, and can be prevented by using good band eating skills. Come back soon to read an article about those skills.  

5. In order to decrease your weight and increase your health, you must decrease your food intake and increase the quality of your food choices and the time you spend exercising. While you may be able to lose weight for a while by just eating much smaller portions of Chicken McNuggets, potato chips, and candy bars, eventually that approach will stop working, and at the same time it will start biting your health in the butt. Though it may be difficult for you to exercise at first, each pound you lose will make it easier, and each additional hour you spend exercising will not only burn calories but improve your physical and mental health. And remember: exercising doesn’t necessarily involve athletic skill or Olympic effort (though it may seem that way at the start).

6. No weight loss surgery procedure will cure eating disorders, eating demons, emotional eating, boredom eating, stress eating, celebratory eating or food addiction. Changing those behaviors is your job. If it’s too hard to tackle yourself, consider getting some counseling with a therapist experienced with eating disorder and WLS patients, and/or joining a 12-step group like Overeater’s Anonymous.

7. The band rarely works without fills. Even if you initially lose weight with one or no fills, sooner or later, you’re going to have to face the fill needle. And if you’re too needle-phobic to tolerate a fill needle, why did you choose band surgery in the first place? But consider this: adjustability is one of the wonderful things about the band.

8. The restriction “sweet spot” is a myth. There is no such thing as “perfect” restriction, or if there is, you can’t count on it to last more than one hour, one day or one week. This is because the band is an inert silicone object implanted in a living, breathing human body that changes constantly in reaction to the time of day, time of month, time of year, hydration, illness, medication, stress, you name it. Restriction variability is part of the gastric band package.

9. There is nothing magic in the band that makes you lose weight. Changing your eating and exercise behavior is what makes you lose weight. All the band does is make that work easier for you by reducing your physical hunger and increasing your satiety (specifically by providing early and prolonged satiety).

10.  YOU are responsible for your weight loss. Not your band, not your surgeon, and not the server at McDonald’s who invariably asks you, “Want to supersize that?”