Date last updated: 07/31/01
HEALTHIER, HAPPIER, WISER...
No regrets, weight loss surgery was the best thing I have ever done for myself!
*Surgery date: 12/14/98
*Surgery type: Laparoscopic Roux en Y Proximal Gastric Bypass
*Doctor: Dr. Boone/Valley Surgical Specialists,
Fresno, Calif. Tel: 559-449-3901
*Weight: Pre op 243lbs - BMI 36.5. Now two+ years post op I'm 135-140lbs (BMI 20)
*Age: 45 (yikes! - when did that happen?)
*Clothing size: From size 22 to 4/6 (sometimes even a 2)!
*Insurance: Approved in 3 wks - no extra tests or records needed
*Hospitalization: 2 days
*Recovery: 3 weeks back to work part time; 4 weeks full time
*Incision: 5 small incisions each less than 1" - Scars are almost invisible
Recommendations for pre-ops: Do your research, understand the various weight loss surgery options available, use the internet for information, call the weight loss clinics in your area ask questions and get their literature, go to local support group meetings and network with other pre and post ops, then schedule consulations at the clinics you believe are the best choices, then and only then make your decision. Many clinic have free monthly seminars you can attend. Ask lots of questions.
I've got information I can send out that I've put together for people looking into wls. I also have a partial list of laparoscopic surgeons in the US. EMAIL me (pls put 'personal' in the subject line so I know it's an email directly to me). If I don't answer your first email, please write back as I am always willing to answer your questions and provide information. Sometimes I inadvertantly delete a 'personal mail' in clearing out some of the bulk mail I get each day.
I had surgery on 12/14/98, and have lost about 110 pounds. I lost all weight I needed to lose. My BMI was 36.5 prior to surgery. My BMI may have been borderline, but I had already developed many of medical complications (comorbidities) of morbid obesity; arthritis and heel spurs, high blood pressure, severe snoring/possible apnea, chronic headaches, GERD, exercise induced asthma, limited mobility, shortness of breath, plus I only have one kidney which risked damage if I developed full blown high blood pressure or diabetes. I have a family history of diabetes and heart disease; my sister died of diabetic complications at age 50, my father died of a heart attack at 49, and my two oldest sisters are diabetic. I knew I was a time bomb and it was just a matter of a few months or years before I suffered irreversible complications or death from one of the many comorbidities associated to obesity. I tried to lose weight for years, only to fall into the yo-yo diet syndrome. I lived on diet pills for years. Finally, I gave up on dieting. I was scared and discouraged and felt I faced a future full of increasing medical problems and decreasing quality of life -- that was until I had weight loss surgery.
I was very worried about possible complications from weight loss surgery. What helped me make the decision to have wls is that I already had severe obesity related medical problems that were only going to get worse and eventually kill me. I compared those obesity related problems to the potential complications from weight loss surgery. After doing the comparison I realized I had a better chance for a healthy life (not to mention better quality of life) with the weight loss surgery EVEN if I developed some complications from weight loss surgery. I felt any WLS complications would be easier to deal with then the comorbidities I already had from obesity. And I knew that if I lost weight most if not all of my comorbidities would go away. Many people let the fear of complications from weight loss surgery hold them back from the surgery - I say think about that very carefully and weigh it against the eventual complications you will have from morbid obesity. Then decide which option, having weight loss surgery or staying obese, will provide you with the healthiest and best quality life. I'm not trying to minimize the risk here, a very small percentage of people die from the complications of wls. There is always a risk in having any major surgery, but that was a risk I was willing to take. I'd already survived six other major surgeries in the preceeding 15 years.
Today, my high blood pressure is better (I'm the only member of my family not on blood pressure medication), my arthritis is radically improved (no more foot, knee or hip pain) and I no longer have the horrible heel spur pain, my GERD is gone, I no longer snore or wake up at night gasping for air, chronic headaches are gone, my shortness of breath is drastically improved, I haven't had an episode of exercise induced asthma since the surgery, my stamina and mobility are greatly improved, and I have significantly reduced my chances of developing adult onset type II diabetes. I feel as if my life has been returned to me. The improvement in my health has been nothing short of a miracle. Now I have a life to look forward to. I truly believe I have been given a reprieve from the life sentence I faced in my prison of fat.
I believe this surgery saved my life and has given me a future full of promise - what I do with that future is up to me. I was divorced 17 years ago, hadn't dated for years prior to my weight loss surgery. Six months after surgery I met the love of my life, we have a wonderful relationship, the best in my entire life. We were engaged in July 2000! That same week I got a big promotion and a huge raise at work. Our wedding is Oct. 2001. I don't believe I would have opened myself up to the possibilities of a relationship again if I hadn't gotten my weight and health issues under control.
Weight Loss Surgery is a tool to help you manage your eating so you can lose weight and then maintain weight loss permanently. It is the most effective treatment available today for morbid obesity. It has certainly proven very effective for me. I would stress this is a tool, HOW you use that tool is up to you!
I dropped below my goal weight of 146. Now I've got a bit of a buffer for the stabilization phase. Somewhere between 12 and 24 months your weight loss stops and most people gain back about 10-15 lbs. I hope to stabilize between 145-150, believe it or not I actually look thin now - although the novelty has been fun I want to weigh a little more. I am somewhat unusual because I was able to achieve over 100% weight loss; most people achieve 60-80% weight loss.
Here's my month-by-month weight loss:
11/19/98 - consult 243 BMI 36.5
12/14/98 - surgery 236 BMI 35
12/27/00 135 (BMI 20)
In an effort to be totally honest and share the good with the bad I should say I experienced some problems September (1999) - February (2000). My doctors never figured out the cause or whether it was related to my weight loss surgery. I actually ended up in the hospital for four days with upper and lower abdominal pain (in September '99). Then I developed severe diahrrea for several months. Lots of tests were run with no conclusive results - endoscopy twice, barium Upper GI/small bowel series, ultra sounds, X-rays and blood work. The first pass of all these tests ruled out the obvious stuff (no obvious gallstones, scar tissue obstructions on the stoma, ulcers, etc.) By late March 2000 the problems were gone. None of these problems were completely incapcitating - I still worked, but I was very tired. My energy level returned and I've not experienced any problems since March. Again, I would stress my doctors never determined whether these problems were related to my WLS or not. Also I've just recently learned (July - 2001) I might need a minor lap surgery to clear out some adhesions (scar tissue) which have been causeing me some problems.
My best wishes to all out there who are looking into or waiting for weight loss surgery. And to those who have already had it - Congratulations!
Surgeon: Keith B. Boone M.D.
A few months before surgery
(9/98), Size 22
Goal weight! 99lbs gone, 7.5
months post op, Size 6
11/20/98 - I consulted with Dr. Boone yesterday - he's great!! Another advantage is he performs laparoscopic gastric bypass. Dr. Boone is an associate of Dr. Higa's at Valley Surgical Associates, Fresno CA (449-559-3201). He spent 1 1/2 hours with me and was very thorough, ethical, easy to talk with, honest and very knowledgeable. This clinic is very professional, unlike some of the other more well-advertised and very commercial clinic/seminars I have visited. An additional benefit is that they are a preferred provider on my insurance plan. I've decided my search is at an end and Dr. Boone is it - I'm moving ahead with the surgery as soon as insurance approval comes in - the sooner the better!!
4/21/00 - I'm 16 months post op. Dr. Boone has been great to me and followed up with me through some medical problems I've had. His office would call every two weeks to check on me. He's a great doctor. Several other people I know have gone to Dr. Boone and have all really liked him.
Unicare, Unicare PPO administered by BP
My insurance company
required proof of medical necessity (at least that's what they told me on the phone).
My Bariatric surgeon wrote one letter and I was approved without any other requirements (no addl tests, psych evals, etc.). I then switched doctors and had to submit for reapproval - it took 3 weeks for the first approval and about 2 weeks for the second (i pulled strings to get the second approval faster)