Here's my story:
I had the Lapland in 2005 with Dr. Sunil Bhoyrul. He's one of the top bariatric surgeons in Southern California and I truly felt fortunate to have him. Unfortunately, about 2 years after my surgery, he left my clinic and his new practice was not covered under my insurance plan. Because I did not desire to have anyone else working with me, I made the decision to pay out of pocket to stay with Dr. Bhoyrul. My weight loss was substantial, and although I experienced some problems with the Lap band (minor reflux, sliming, waking up out of my sleep choking on food/saliva, tightness, etc.), I was so happy to finally be successful at losing weight that I honestly never complained or questioned it. I thought this was normal and simply part of what I had to go through with the lap band to be successful in my weight loss .
About close to 3 years after my surgery, I started to notice that after each adjustment, my satiety level would last less time (started lasting for a few days then got as low as lasting an hour) and I was no longer losing weight. I had not reached goal and was concerned that something was wrong with my band. I explained these concerns to my surgeon and he asked if I had been "eating around the band". I assured him that I was doing everything by the book. Rather than having my band checked, I was repeatedly offered an increase on my fill. I would leave his office unable to even swallow my saliva (no exaggeration). Then that feeling would miraculously be gone the next afternoon and eventually In a matter of hours. He refused to fill me anymore for fear of band erosion, which I totally understood. My frustration was that he was convinced that I was eating icecream and shakes and chips, which were foods I avoided at all costs. I would be in tears during my appointments because I was gaining weight and was afraid of it getting too out of control.
My surgeon finally had my band checked and we were told fluid was going through at a decent rate and everything looked good. My surgeon expressed his belief that I was eating slider foods and needed to see a nutritionist to learn about healthy eating. I'm not even going to give details as to how utterly offended and frustrated this made me. So, I was so desperate to not regain all the weight I had suffered to lose and began taking diet pills. I also could no longer afford to pay out of pocket to continue seeing my surgeon (not to mention I strongly felt the need to get a second opinion about my band), so I left my surgeon and tried to find one covered by my insurance. I'm not sure if things have changed, but at that time, once a surgeon had performed your surgery, no other surgeon would dare touch you, ESPECIALLY if there were complications or problems, so I literally had to fight for close to 2 years before my insurance finally gave in and approved me to see a bariatric surgeon. I had to keep getting referrals to see different bariatric surgeons, because once I explained my issue along with who had performed my surgery, each surgeon would refuse to treat me. It took well over a year before a surgeon finally offered me an adjustment.
By this time, the diet pills had long lost their magic and I had no restriction. I had gained a substantial amount of weight. I decided to try a fill since so much time had passed. I prayed a miracle had somehow taken place and my band would hopefully hold a fill. However, no such miracle had occurred. Since the surgeons refused to listen to me when I told them something was wrong with my band, I started doing research on my own. Although I came across others with similar issues with the band in communities such as this one, i was unable to find any information regarding band recalls.
Finally in 2010, I found some info online and contacted the company. Turned out there had been a recall on my band/the needles used for adjustments. Apparently, the needles used had caused leaks to develop in the bands so rather than describe the bands as faulty (because that would be more costly), the needles were blamed for causing slow leaks that were not detectable under floroscopy (sp?). I literally cried tears of relief upon discovering this information! I contacted the company and spoke with someone regarding my case. The woman I spoke with did some research and called me back to explain that my surgeon had been informed about the recall and had been told to contact all patients who had that particular band and who'd had the procedure during the time I'd had my surgery. The company had also issued him a letter to give to us. Mind you, this had all transpired during the time I was going to him in tears complaining about my fills not lasting and adamantly trying to explain that something was wrong with my band. I felt so let down. I had paid him out of pocket for so long and had shared my concerns with him, yet he had never shared this vital information with me. I was devastated and contacted him via email regarding this. I received no response and resent the exact same email about a month later to which he responded that the lap band had not been successful for me and I would need to contact a surgeon for a different type of wls. Again, I was utterly devastated!! This man had seemed so supportive and kind prior to my band issues. I had been told that weight loss surgeons supported you as long as you were a success story, but the moment you were no longer, they wanted nothing to do with you. I refused to believe it prior to my wls issues, but after my experience, I changed my mind. The woman I spoke to sent me a copy of the letter to take to my current surgeon. I was just so happy to have proof that something was wrong. Although I had continued to follow the eating plan with my band, I had gained weight and felt like such a failure, as if I had failed the band, but now I had proof that the band had actually failed me due to a malfunction. Unfortunately, I was told that I would need to have it replaced, and while it would be covered by the company, I would have to pay upfront for the surgery and then receive a refund afterward. As you can imagine, my world came crashing down because there was NO way I could afford to pay for that surgery! I spoke to my current weight loss surgery about replacing my band, but he refused and explained that he did not find the band to be a good choice of wls for patients.
Along with all the surgeons I had seen over the years, he was shocked that Dr. Bhoyrul had recommended the lap band surgery for me after reviewing my medical history and seeing that I had been diagnosed with insulin resistance syndrome AND PCOS. Of course I had no idea that this should have determined which wls was best for me. I honestly thought wls is wls and wanted the least dangerous one. I trusted my surgeon when he told me the lap band would be the best option for me. Looking back, the sleeve wasn't popular at that time and I didn't qualify for the rny due to my weight, so that may have had something to do with his choice.
I was diagnosed with thyroid disorder in the summer of 2009, and this only made things worse. Treatment caused me to quickly gain a whopping 50 pounds!! Despite all this and the anxiety, depression and hopelessness that gradually crept back in (and worsens each day), for the most part, I continue to eat healthy the majority of the time, and try to exercise but it is difficult and frustrating because I am right back where I was 10 years ago.
My current surgeon wants to remove my band and perform vsg surgery. About a year ago, insurance approved band removal with a vsg for a later date, but I get severe anxiety just thinking about having that surgery or any type of wls again. I remember all the suffering I experienced with the band, and I don't think I could go through that again. The restriction and not being able to get even a Tbsp of water down let alone a bite of a soft scrambled egg! It just all freaks me out. Majorly!
Recently, I met someone who had vsg surgery and was at work 1 week out, drinking her protein shake and I got anxiety just watching her. However, the more I watched her, the more I began to think "Wow! She is SO brave! I could never do that". I recently told her how brave I thought she was and about my doctor recommending that exact surgery for me. She told me about 2 other co workers who had the surgery around the same time she had hers and offered me her number so I could call and talk about the surgery if I wanted or needed to. That was about the time I decided to join this site. Some things I read give me hope, while other comments freak me out. I don't know what will come of this, but I feel like simply joining this community may just be a step towards a new and better beginning.
Thanks for reading.