Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Lapband verses the Sleeve

Today marks my 8 week anniversary of having the Gastric Sleeve done.  It's interesting because I am in the rather unique position of being able to compare surgeries, having had the lapband a couple of years ago.

In September 2010, I had the lapband surgery.  A little band was placed around the top portion of my stomach, creating a small pouch at the top of my stomach.  When I would eat, the food would sit in that pouch first, creating a full feeling pretty much right away.  Success for me was pretty amazing, losing 60 pounds or so over the next 5 months.  However, by that following February, the band had slipped in a pretty major way, with most of my stomach having slipped through it.  It had gotten to where it was keeping me from being able to keep down any fluid or food, and had to be removed.

I had gone from 352 pounds to under 290.  Right before I had the band removed I weighed in at 267, though I don't know that I could ever say that was a "real" weight because there was nearly a week of really not getting any food into my system at all, not to mention being extremely dehydrated.  After the band was removed, I settled in at right around 290.  Over the next couple of months I think I moved up to around 300 pounds, hovered there for several months, then slowly regained pretty much everything I had lost, and then some, getting up to 375 pounds.

So, on November 20 I was back in, this time getting the Gastric Sleeve.  This is a more permanent procedure, as a pretty good portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a rather small sleeve for holding food (thus the name).  Right now, I'm sitting at 344 pounds.

As far as how it felt after surgery and all, I would say the two are pretty similar.  Now with the lapband, I was at home the same night after surgery, after the sleeve they kept me overnight.  I don't know how much that had to do with the procedure itself and how much had to do with the approach of the different surgeons and hospitals.  Overall, I felt the recovery and the way I felt after surgery was pretty much the same.  The only difference was that with the sleeve, I had a surgical drain in place for a week, which was a big nuisance.

As far as diet, at this point it is all pretty much the same.  You can eat pretty much anything, it's just that the quantity is limited.  I do believe that I can eat more with the sleeve, but not by a huge amount.  After the lap band I could eat maybe 4-5 ounces of solid food at one time, now maybe 6-7 ounces.

In the end, I don't know that I would say that either one felt any different than the other or that I would prefer one over the other.  My weight loss was more rapid with the lapband than it has been this time around.  I'm sure there's a strong correlation with that last bit of being able to eat more.  I think too I tend to graze on food between meals now which has some effect.  Finally, my level of activity was much much higher after the lapband because of all the walking I would do going to work and back.  Truth is, that is an excuse as much as anything.  I pushed myself into that kind of situation with the activity, and right now I'm working on doing the same thing now.

There will be other posts I'm sure talking about the differences and similarities.  One thing I want to make sure is clear to anyone thinking about surgery or just wanting to know about having it done.  Having surgery is not an easy way to losing weight.  That's how I used to look at it, it was taking the easy way out.  Long long ago I mentioned what one doctor said.  It's more like it levels the playing field so that diet and exercise CAN really make the difference.  I believe that's what I'm really coming to understand especially this time around is, surgery does not replace diet and exercise.  It's really more of a safety net.  It's kind of like, when it is too easy to slip back into some old ways and really snarf down some food, well, I can't do that.  You learn pretty quickly where your limits are and how miserable you get if you eat too much.  And that kind of serves as a check or balance.  In the end, you still have to do the exercise, you still have to eat wisely.  That's the only way you lose the weight.  Believe me, it's very possible to not eat wisely after surgery, it's very possible to defeat the surgery.  But in the end, maybe the best way to put it is it gives you a way to stop the backslide before it gets out of control, if that makes sense.

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