Veteran VSG'rs: What's your post surgery life like?

on 1/6/19 3:35 pm - MO

I need to know the good, bad and the ugly. I'm currently deciding between VSG and RnY. Leaning towards the bypass as my BMI is 62 (!!!!) Doctor is leaning to VSG, so I'm trying to get the scoop on life with both procedures. I would appreciate any help or advice you could give.



Gwen M.
on 1/6/19 5:04 pm
VSG on 03/13/14

I'm almost five years post-op, which seems unfathomable to me. Five years! Woo!

My BMI was 55 when I started the process. My preference was VSG and my surgeon was happy with that preference. I'm happy with my choice and both the surgeries are pretty awesome. However, if I'd had pre-op issues with acid (GERD/reflux) or had long term issues with diabetes, I would have chosen RNY, not VSG.

The good - I've lost a heck of a lot of weight, become a runner, gone back to college, found a love of pilates and yoga, and really strengthened my mental health.

The bad - WLS only changes your stomach and it's not your stomach that led you to obesity... your brain did that. So you're still going to need to fix your brain if you want lifelong success. Thankfully there are mental health professionals out there to help. Changing your lifestyle and habits is hard work even with WLS.

The ugly - Excess skin can be frustrating. In my case it kept me from doing the things I wanted to do, like jumping jacks. Developing acid issues is not uncommon after VSG - this is due to Boyle's Law (lower volume = higher pressure), but it doesn't happen to everyone and, for some, it can be managed without PPIs.

Without a doubt VSG is the best gift I've ever given myself. The life I'm living now is nothing I ever imagined I'd have.

VSG with Dr. Salameh - 3/13/2014
Diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder and started Vyvanse - 7/22/2016
Reconstructive Surgeries with Dr. Michaels - 6/5/2017 (LBL & brachioplasty), 8/14/2017 (UBL & mastopexy), 11/6/2017 (medial leg lift)

Age 42 Height 5'4" HW 319 (1/3/2014) SW 293 (3/13/2014) CW 149 (7/16/2017)
Next Goal 145 - normal BMI | Total Weight Lost 170

TrendWeight | Food Blog (sort of functional) | Journal (down for maintenance)

on 1/7/19 6:10 am
VSG on 12/08/14

Heather, I agree with Gwen! When I was trying to decide the type of surgery to have, I went for the VSG because I did not want nothing touched down there except my stomach. VSG was the "best" tool I ever bought for my body! Yes, the surgery is only a "tool" and it keeps working even if you happen to regain some weight. The reason I regained some weight was not due to the surgery, .... I stopped tracking my food and stopped making good choices and stopped exercising.(due to life challenges) I am in the process of getting the weight back off and my "tool" still works!! The surgery is not a fix all! You will need to stay focused and do exactly what your dietitians and doctors tell you. Bottom line you will need to let this new tool work for you but you are in control of the tool. If I had to go back before surgery, I would "still" go for having the surgery! Best tool ever! I have had no acid issues. The only downsize and I'm dealing with it .... I can no longer have insaid (spelling?) medications. Good luck on your journey! You deserve this!!! :)

on 1/7/19 6:45 pm

NSAID is what you were going for - liked hearing your comment too!

on 1/13/19 5:06 pm

10 years post VSG here. Haven't logged on here in ages, but just saw this post and thought I'd chime in. I was never told that I could no longer take NSAIDs. Ibuprofen is the only pain med that has ever worked for me, as I am allergic to narcotics and tylenol does nothing for me... so no ibuprofen would have been a deal breaker and was probably one of the top 3 reasons WHY I chose the VSG over a bypass. Double check that... the standards may have changed in 10 years, but here I am with no issues and I take ibuprofen at least once a week for all kinds of things--headaches, joint paint, arthritis, etc. Is that maybe an "opinion" of particular surgeons? My general wellness doc kind of keeps an "extra" eye on me because I am one of her few patients who's had a successful WLS and has managed to keep the majority of it off for this long. My bariatric labs are always good. I do have to take prescription strength omeprazole daily and that's only been for the past 5 years? Maybe? I will admit that I have gotten lazy with my maintenance and have gained back about 30% of what I'd initially lost. And a part of that re-gain has to do with post-hysterectomy and menopause joyfulness... Not awesome, BUT I feel pretty good about it considering what the alternative would have been. If I'd not done the sleeve I'd be disabled or dead by now.

To the original poster? Do it. This surgery saved my life. It's not been effortless, no, but without the sleeve I wouldn't have been able to restrict myself the way I needed to to actually lose the weight I needed to unload. The bypass scared me, too many risks. Initially, I also wanted an option that would be the least invasive if we'd decided to have one more baby. That wasn't meant to be, but it was an important factor in my decision, I wasn't ready to close off that possibility.

My total weight lost was 110 pounds. Held that off for about 5 years; after that, I needed a hysterectomy and that recovery set me back in regards to getting exercise and eating healthy. That same year, I decided to do a breast reduction, panniculectomy, and tummy tuck (my deductible had been met, I figured I'd be a fool to not do these things!) and that was the WORST surgical recovery in my life. Complications that set me back for MONTHS. Not blaming my weight re-gain completely on all that, but that's what started the downslide. Long story short, 110 lost, 30 lb regain. Over a 5 year period.

Getting that weight back off IS much harder. I'm 10 years older. Going through menopause. Not chasing a toddler around anymore. Our business has grown, and I'm immersed in our studio, working on client artwork and art for my own enrichment. I'm ridiculously busy, but sedentary. That all contributes.

Gwen M.
on 1/13/19 5:31 pm
VSG on 03/13/14

No - skipping NSAIDs is not an "opinion" of a particular surgeon, it's a recommendation by the ASMBS. Another thing that might have changed since your surgery is the recommendation to take a daily PPI (omeprazole is one) as long term PPI usage has been found to lead to cognitive decline, among other suboptimal outcomes.

One of the challenges that evidence-based practice presents is that scientists are constantly performing new research and making new discoveries. It can be difficult (for patients AND providers) to keep up with new information, but it's important to do so.

VSG with Dr. Salameh - 3/13/2014
Diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder and started Vyvanse - 7/22/2016
Reconstructive Surgeries with Dr. Michaels - 6/5/2017 (LBL & brachioplasty), 8/14/2017 (UBL & mastopexy), 11/6/2017 (medial leg lift)

Age 42 Height 5'4" HW 319 (1/3/2014) SW 293 (3/13/2014) CW 149 (7/16/2017)
Next Goal 145 - normal BMI | Total Weight Lost 170

TrendWeight | Food Blog (sort of functional) | Journal (down for maintenance)

on 1/7/19 6:49 am
VSG on 10/05/17

Although I'm only a little past a year out, I hit my goal with VGS at about 5 months, and am maintaining there. I never considered another surgery, since the "newer" trend is that the VGS is better since it apparently spares more nutrients. Since I have only 4" of large intestine from previous cancer surgery, it seemed sensible.

I was 65 when my husband and I together researched and made the decision; we were self-pay, so it was a big commitment with fixed income and not being covered.

My overall health is better than its been in 15 years - no high blood pressure, no diabetes (except occasional very low BS when I don't eat enough protein), cholesterol & triglycerides normal. Went from 17 daily meds to 4, plus vitamins & biotin.

My only down side? I had pretty significant hair loss (I had 2 surgeries same day due to minor complication, plus 2 units of blood). So my body decided hair wasn't that important. It has grown back (still growing back) to the same thickness and wild curls as before. I know prior to the surgery I was not consistent with vitamins or adequate protein intake . I didn't realise that the need for vitamins, nutrients and protein change as we age.

I have lots of energy, look good and feel fabulous. As to skin sag, I don't have much except over the bikini line, and I attribute that in part to 7 abdominal surgeries over the years, as much as to the VGS. I'm hoping a return to the gym when we get back home this week will help. If not, nobody sees it but me.

I bought a bathing suit down here (at the beach) and it was a size 6, one piece and fit perfectly and also covered anything I was a bit uncomfortable about revealing.

Maybe the other down side, or rather biggest learning opportunity for me, I MUST eat slowly. If I eat fast, I get very uncomfortable and get "toad froth". Aagh.

But learning. Be sure you explore what you surgeon offers for post surgery nutritional support Best wishes for a great decision :)

HW: 240 lbs CW: 205 lbs: SW: 199 lbs GW: 130 lbs
1 MO = 167.0 2 MO = 156.4 3 MO = 148.4 4 MO = 140.6
5 MO = 136.0 6 MO = 130.0 (GOAL) 20 MO = 133
"At the evening of our life, we shall be judged by our love."

on 1/7/19 6:57 pm

I MUST eat slowly. If I eat fast, I get very uncomfortable and get "toad froth". Aagh.

YIKEs, no better description could be made!

I am impressed you went for it at 65, I also understand committing to cash pay, I am seeing a grief counselor (family issue) and out of pocket every single week as a senior on fixed income IS a true seriousness. (She did lower her fee from $120 an hour to $75. and I am thankful)

Years ago I read about a single, working woman who ate a tuna sandwich every day, and saved the $5. everyone else spent on 'social lunch' to put a downpayment on a house. Smart (I could rant on that topic too!)

Seeing your positive review is great.

Kristi T.
on 1/7/19 10:10 am - MT
VSG on 02/09/16

The one thing I wanted more than anything before the surgery was to trust my surgeon, which I did. He left the type of surgery up to me. 15 minutes before I went into the OR he stopped by and said "which one did you choose?" Not the best bedside manner:-) I researched the heck out of the surgical options and asked what seemed like at the time a million questions. I chose the VSG because I did not have a history of GERD and that was just what my heart and gut led me too.

The good: The only regret I had was that I did not do it sooner. I no longer walk with a cane and am off all narcotic pain medication for the first time in probably 19 years. I love to hike and plan on doing a lot of it until I can't. I have an abundance of energy and mental focus at the age of 52.

The bad: Excess skin on my arms, but I deal with it by wearing the right clothing. At this time the only plastic surgery I would like is a breast lift. My "long boobs" hurt my shoulders, so that is one of my goals for the coming year.

Come back to OH, let us know how you are doing. Check out the menu threads, this is a wonderful place for support and information. I wish you the best!

Liz WantsHealthForAll
on 1/9/19 4:57 am - Cape Cod, MA
VSG on 03/28/16

I am not a veteran, but am 3 years out. I am totally thrilled with my choice of a VSG. I felt more comfortable with it than with RNY because of some of the potential complications with RNY, most of which are minor and can be dealt with btw. I'll echo what others have said that if I had GERD or diabetes prior to surgery, I would have gone with RNY. I did consider RNY seriously because of the calorie malabsorption, but it seems like that has little effect after a couple of years which is when some people start to get off track with their eating.

I did have plastic surgery for my saggy tummy and saggy jowlline, but the tummy actually could be hidden pretty easily and the jowlline was because of my age so might not be an issue for you.

Eating is normal after a while, except VSG does a good job at restricting quantity. But again, you have to get your head in the right place, because it would be possible to graze on carbs all day long and eat LOTS of weight gaining calories.

Best of luck on your decision!

Liz 5'3" HW: 219 (BMI 38.8) SW: 185 GW: 125 CW: 115-118 (BMI 20.4-20.9) - TT and facelift 1/11/2017 - Brow and eyelid PS 12/11/2017.

WL: Pre-op: -34 M1: -17 M2: -12 M3: -11 M4: -7 M5: -7 M6: -5.5 M7: -3.3 M8: -3.3 M9: -2.5 UNDER GOAL since 10/12/2016 - in current range since 12/10/2016. Average maintenance calories 1350

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