Weight loss surgery, especially the Gastric Band, often gets a bad rap. It’s generally considered to be a quick fix for people who don’t have the drive to lose weight through diet and exercise. This however, cannot be farther from the truth.
The truth is, our bodies are actually designed to resist starvation. They are also not designed to lose weight. If you look at Australian statistics, you will find that around 90% of patients who lose weight with diet and exercise alone will gain it back within six months.
When surgery is required
Matthew Brooks, head aftermarket sales manager knows first-hand the struggle with diet and exercise. In a job where he travels all over Australia, Matt usually doesn’t have time to pack a healthy lunch or sit down at a restaurant for dinner.
Of course, bariatric surgery should not be the first option, but it also shouldn’t be the last. Matt chose to have reversible Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band Surgery or Lap Band surgery to significantly reduce his calorie intake and help manage his weight. Lap-Band surgery is a procedure where an adjustable silicon band is placed around the upper section of the patient’s stomach. Adjusting the size of the band restricts the amount of food that can be consumed by the patient, ultimately resulting in weight loss.
Lap-band surgery is suitable for patients who want to permanently lose a significant amount of weight. After surgery patients should expect to lose between 0.5-1 kilogram a week for the first 12-18 months.
What to expect after surgery
As Lap-band surgery is laparoscopic and only small incisions are needed to operate, it is less invasive than traditional open surgery. Because of this, Matt has seen his weight drop “slowly but surely” and has had quite a fast recovery.
Having a smaller stomach can be a huge adjustment and for Matt, he’s noticed he can’t eat the foods or portions he used to “I have to be mindful of what I can and can’t eat”.
One non-permanent side effect of the Gastric Band Matt has found is “the slimes”. When you eat something that requires a little extra work to digest, your body will produce secretions like saliva and mucus that, pre-sleeve, you swallowed without even knowing it. This fluid helps the food slide down into your stomach where the body uses it to digest the food. Now as the volume of your stomach is much smaller and can’t always hold both food and secretions it can sometimes causes an unpleasant situation of either feeling painfully full for half an hour or so to being ill with bubbles of mucus.
Even though I have the band open (which is hindering my weight loss). I can have bouts that can last a few days. It makes me quite uncomfortable and inconvenient for my work.
Another challenge for Matt was how this surgery would impact his social life. As party enthusiasts, Matt and his wife are constantly busy on weekends with a large group of friends. Matt was worried that this surgery would hinder his ability to eat at parties or feel up to socialising.
Of course other than the normal risks like complications and inadequate weight loss, I was concerned if I would still have a social life.
Throughout his recovery Matt has had a relatively smooth ride. Several follow up appointments from staff ensured both him and his family had all the knowledge and education they needed for Matts long-term weight loss journey.
In general, everyone at WALOS is very understanding of the patient’s needs. They give clear and correct advice and motivation to make the procedures work effectively.