Gastric Bypass/Revision nearly killed me

on 1/16/11 10:15 am - NV
Gastric Bypass, and the surgeons who perform it, have left me near death, with a feeding tube, living off disability and uninsurable. That's why I need to share my story to explain some of the common, yet avoidable, complications of Bariatric Surgery. This surgery is becoming too commercialized and routine, and many times it's being performed without the patient being educated of the life-long changes they need to make in order to be successful and healthy long-term.

I had Bariatric Surgery, or Open Gastric Bypass, in December 2002. I was 33 years old and had been overweight and/or obese the majority of those years. I did at least 2 years of research before surgery plus continued my research post-op and was extremely excited for what was to come. Within the first two weeks I lost 18 pounds. Wow! Then it stopped. I was eating tiny, well-balanced 2 ounce meals but the weight would not budge. I did not touch sugar, fat or anything with high calories. I only drank water. I followed the doctors orders to the letter. But I was not exercising.

I started exercising and the weight started coming off. I exercised for 90 minutes, 6 days a week. If I stopped exercising for a week, it would take me a month to lose another pound. I fought for every pound I lost. It took two years, but at 5 feet, 3 inches tall, I went from 275 pounds to 160 pounds and was on top of the world, still exercising and eating right.

In March of 2008 I had some dental work done. I was put on 1600mg of ibuprofen a day for 2 months. Roughly 2 months after I discontinued the use of ibuprofen I started vomiting. It quickly became a daily occurrence. One day after eating my small breakfast and lunch, around 2:00 PM I had to vomit again, but this time I realized it included dinner from the previous night.

Scared, I ended up at a gastroenterologist who ran a camera scope down my throat and said that the opening from my stomach to my intestines had closed down to the size of a pinhole due to scar tissue. I was told that scar tissue is considered a common complication for Gastric Bypass patients. After reviewing my medical history he asked if I use ibuprofen, and I was then told that Gastric Bypass patients should not take ibuprofen or any NSAIDS, as it causes scar tissue. For 6 years I had been taking a few NSAIDS for aches and pains here and there. None of my doctors had said anything.

I wish my story ended there. To make this short, my gastroenterologist did a scope with balloon dilation to open up the scar tissue, a procedure that works on all but 2% of bypass patients. I am part of that 2%. After having 2 scopes with balloon dilation, I was told I needed Gastric Revision surgery.

On January 29, 2009 my new bariatric surgeon performed an Open Gastric Revision surgery, which split me from the tip of my chest-bone down to my belly button. He was well-known, recommended and even had a commercial on television about gastric bypass. However, right after surgery I was still vomiting. Not even two weeks after surgery they performed another scope down my throat and my gastroenterologist wrote in my record that the bariatric surgeon had sewn my stomach shut. Now, instead of a stricture from my stomach to my intestines, I had a stricture from my esophagus to my stomach. The surgeon denied it, saying that I had rebuilt scar tissue within those two weeks. After 5 months, 7 additional scopes with balloon dilation and 59 days in the hospital, I was forced to get a feeding tube, fired from my job, left with no insurance, and had to go on disability. I am now down to 121 pounds. I've lost all muscle mass, fat, menstruation, and nearly all of my teeth due to malnutrition. My nutrients are fed to me 12-16 hours a day through a tube in my chest that sits right on my bra line.

There is more to my story, but I tried to condense it as best as I could. I am trying to get my story to other patients, or those considering gastric bypass, through talk shows, magazines, online, etc., in hopes that by hearing my story I can help people realize that gastric bypass is not a quick fix. It's a tool, which if used correctly, takes effort, changes in diet, changes in medication and supplements, amount of food eaten and exercise. Things that can also be done without the surgery and some of the common complications that come with it. I'm hoping that patients and their doctors research and educate all facets of this procedure, short and long-term. I would not be where I am today if I had known NSAIDS caused scar tissue, and I have researched this surgery extensively. I'm also hoping that by getting my story publicized, I might find a doctor who specializes in this field as I'm told I need additional surgery to make a new stomach out of my remaining intestines. Until then, I will survive on my feeding tube and disability.

I appreciate you reading my story. I hope this is not the end of my story, but just a positive beginning. Thank you so much for your time.

Reno, Nevada
on 1/17/11 8:57 am
Your story saddens me.  I'm sorry you have had to go through so much heart ache like this.  I don't think many of us can even REALLY imagine what your day to day life must be like with all that has happened to you.

I have seen a few other posts with similar outcomes like yours who have had the RnY.  Although, I know there are others with this surgery who have success, I have heard enough for me to decide it is not the WLS for me.  I'm working on finding a knowledgeable revision surgeon now and I won't settle for just any surgeon.
on 1/18/11 10:47 am
You are a brave, brave woman. And from your profile, and beautiful brave woman. I hear a lot of struggle coming from your words, but I also see a chin up looking at the sunshine in there too. And for anyone who doubted the severity of your symptoms, man, what gives.
Debbie M.
on 1/18/11 11:11 pm
Revision on 02/17/10 with
you sjould see if you can frind Joyce from AZ and hear her story, it's similar in some ways.   She had huge nutrition isues.  You had 2 bad surgeries in my opinion and one went from bad to worse..  I'm so sorry Leslee, I hope youre able to get back on your feet, get some work, get some insurance and then get your problem corrected, because it can be with a good surgeon.
I'm horrified that the original surgeon didn't say anything about not taking NSAIDSs.
Best of luck, I pray that things will turn around for you!
Debbie M.

SW 358/CW 201/Goal - anything below 160
Angel to TEAZ (Michelle)

on 1/20/11 4:52 am
Wow heart aches for you.
I am replying primarily as I have had similar problems with NSAIDS. I had RNY 2001 and have gone thru several 'problems' in the intervening years.  I had to have the stoma stretched (doctor needed to use a pediatric endoscope since opening so narrow...), and ulcers form (as was explained to me these are not 'normal' ulcers, rather due to the wall of my stomach being so thin and close to the scar tissue...that food and/or NSAIDS 'catch' in it causing ulceration).  
For me, I used Advil to alleviate arthritic pains, etc. but at the time of the discovery of the ulcer, my gastroentrologist advised me that I should no longer use this type of pain reliever. I also needed to cease taking the 81mg/day asprin recommended by my cardiologist!
Please do understand that NSAIDS aren't the only problem is that the scar tissue is there and able to 'collect' any substance that travels thru escophogus!
What I have done is to use/add some specific supplements, i.e glucosomine chondroitin-daily, which has improved my overall 'achiness/pain'  quotient. 
But the BROADER issue you have raised is that RNY surgery ITSELF is prone to scar tissue buildup.
Not so sure I want to have a REVISION correct  the original RNY. Your story will stay with me as I continue my personal debate over what to do next.
on 1/22/11 11:01 am - Houston, TX
VSG on 12/27/10 with
I am so so sorry about what happened to you. You are in my thoughts and prayers.  I hope someone will be able to help you recover from this.  I am so glad you are sharing your story.  Hugs.
(deactivated member)
on 1/29/11 7:23 pm
Revision on 08/11/08 with
I had my original RNY in 2000. My doctor never informed me about NSAID's, I found out about avoiding them by reading the boards HERE on OH. So, I've avoided them period. Even after the DS and I have need of something for knee pain.

It seems this surgery is becoming too commercial. It really shouldn't be taken lightly and there should be more education involved and follow-up.

I am so sorry to hear that you are in the position you are  in now. I hope you can get the help you need and that your quality of life improves.

on 2/2/11 3:48 pm
I am so sorry, that you have had to experience these problems. I am in need of the revision to my gastric bypass surgery that was done in 2003. For years I thought I was at fault, not doing something by the book. I lost 80lbs but gained 20lbs back and now I got brave and was check out by another Doctor in the field and he did a scope and told me my pouch was enlongated and that the stoma outlet was extra large. I don't understand about the enlongated pouch, but that was 9 years old when I first had my surgery, while this needs to be corrected I am afraid of the surgery and the outcome. I really could use some input from others who have experience this problem. My doctor called this a mechanical failure? I am trying to prepare myself I am still very overweight at 290lbs and only 5'6. I am angry because I have thought for 9 yrs. I was the problem. I am not young but at 55 I still have alot of dreams to fill. I wish you the best and if you need a friend to talk to email me. I am here for you and will try to assist you in any way. Hope and Prayers for you and that you find a good doctor. That's the key to this surgery.