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Alcohol habit and band surgery - please help

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Hi I am a professional woman- I have a full on career which is very stressful. I come hone and drink 2-3 glasses of wine each night. I am seriously considering band surgery and have made a consultation appointment. My questions are- 

Can anyone else identify with my situation and advise me? 

Is my liver likely to be affected to such an extent that my surgery would be aborted (I am young and have no signs of liver function decline)

I very much feel at a crossroad in my life and know my health will suffer if I continue as I am. I am hoping that surgery and the associated diet will bring about a side effect of also controlling my alcohol intake. I know part of why I drink is to forget my self loathing about my weight... hope to hear from you and please be gentle in your responses x 

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10 minutes ago, Chessboard said:

Hi I am a professional woman- I have a full on career which is very stressful. I come hone and drink 2-3 glasses of wine each night. I am seriously considering band surgery and have made a consultation appointment. My questions are- 

Can anyone else identify with my situation and advise me? 

Is my liver likely to be affected to such an extent that my surgery would be aborted (I am young and have no signs of liver function decline)

I very much feel at a crossroad in my life and know my health will suffer if I continue as I am. I am hoping that surgery and the associated diet will bring about a side effect of also controlling my alcohol intake. I know part of why I drink is to forget my self loathing about my weight... hope to hear from you and please be gentle in your responses x 

How overweight are you at the moment, what's your height and weight?  Do you have diabetes at all?

Other folks will probably comment after me, but I would encourage you to seek another type of surgery- either the sleeve, or gastric bypass. The gastric band is what initially got me interested in weight loss surgery (WLS) as well. But then I did the research. It has a very high rate of complications, the worst of which that it can cause irreparable physical damage. Its track record is lackluster at best, and it's not designed to get larger amounts of weight off. 

IN this very forum are several members who have had to transition from the band, to something else. Search the forum a bit as well and you will find lots of info.

Best of luck to you though, whichever way you go!

tracyringo, Jen581791 and NerdyLady like this

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Thank you so much for your reply. I am 5'6" and 235lbs. Does that change your advice?

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I don't have diabetes x 

 

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I would echo the above advice; in the US many bariatric surgeons have stopped doing banding at all because of complications and ineffectiveness. 

Now, let's talk about the alcohol issue.  Your liver is likely enlarged now from a combination of obesity and regular alcohol use.  Though probably at your age mostly from obesity.  Generally, we are put on a pre-op diet aimed at shrinking the liver so that the surgery is easier.  They have to retract the liver out of the way to do any of the WLS procedures and the bigger it is the more difficult that makes it.  One very real problem post-op is addiction transfer which is what concerns me most about your regular alcohol use.  Most of us are food addicts.  We use it for comfort, for celebration, for everything but fuel.  When we no longer can do that we often turn to something else and it's very easy for alcoholism to become the next problem.  Or shopping addiction, or whatever vice of choice. 

Do your research and determine if you are ready to make a permanent change in your life.  I hope that you will decide you want to be healthy and will address the things in your life that are not healthy.  This forum is an excellent place to find information and support and it's mostly because we've all been there.  I can tell you that it is glorious on the other side :)

 

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I can't continue as I am. When I say I'm young I'm in my 30's. I didn't drink at all until I was late 20's. I was in a relationship with someone with a band so I understand the day to day impact. I feel I am ready but I'm also scared - also- a sleeve would be much more expensive and I'm self funding x 

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29 minutes ago, Michael_A said:

Other folks will probably comment after me, but I would encourage you to seek another type of surgery- either the sleeve, or gastric bypass. The gastric band is what initially got me interested in weight loss surgery (WLS) as well. But then I did the research. It has a very high rate of complications, the worst of which that it can cause irreparable physical damage. Its track record is lackluster at best, and it's not designed to get larger amounts of weight off. 

 

Wanting the band is also how I ended up getting sleeved. I knew I didn't want by pass and thought the band was my only other option. When I learned about the sleeve, I knew it was the best option for me. 

If I were you, I would address the drinking first. 2 - 3 glasses of wine a night in my opinion isn't a real issue but it could be the start of one. Do you drink every night, seven days a week, no matter what? What happens if you don't drink for a week? How much do you miss it? Do you find you eat more to sooth yourself when you aren't drinking? If you can stop drinking and it doesn't have much of an impact, I wouldn't be concerned. But, if you are irritable, turning to food to replace the booze, obsessing about not drinking, etc, then my guess is band or not, you are at risk for developing a serious drinking problem. In that case, if it were me I would get some counseling and go to some AA meetings to determine the scope and level of my problem. 

 

Good Luck and thanks for posting. I am a food addict and I come from a long line of alcoholics. I'm an advocate for finding out if you have a little problem before it turns into a big problem and takes you down a path you never wanted to be on. 

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19 minutes ago, Chessboard said:

I can't continue as I am. When I say I'm young I'm in my 30's. I didn't drink at all until I was late 20's. I was in a relationship with someone with a band so I understand the day to day impact. I feel I am ready but I'm also scared - also- a sleeve would be much more expensive and I'm self funding x 

I know that the cost of VSG is a lot higher than the gastric band but in honesty, in the 10+ years that I've been on this forum, I can think of maybe 4 or 5 people who have had good results with the band - for how long, I don't know because those members are no longer active on the forum.  

And as you're self-pay, don't forget to factor in the additional costs of having fills/un-fills?  In the US, the average cost of a fill is  $150.00 (about £115.60).

If you haven't done so already, do your homework on the GB.  Many clinics over here in the US are not offering the band anymore.  

You don't say how much you want to lose but the VSG has the benefit of generally providing superior weight loss in the first 12-18 months after surgery.

Lastly, I don't know what your starting weight is but have you considered trying to get your bariatric surgery on the NHS (at no cost to you)?  Weight loss surgery is available on the NHS for people who meet certain criteria:  body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, or a BMI between 35 and 40 and an obesity-related condition that might improve if you lost weight (such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure).

 

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7 hours ago, Chessboard said:

Thank you so much for your reply. I am 5'6" and 235lbs. Does that change your advice?

No.

I think the idea that the band is not a great option has been pretty well covered. Most of the positive stuff about it (from the past 5 years) that I've seen is either advertising (paid for by band manufacturers) often masquerading as "testimonies" by people whose blogs I've seen, and they don't always have a happy ending, or else they're advertising by doctors who still offer the band despite bad reports for years. 

So I'll speak to the drinking, as it's more in my wheelhouse! I used to be a two or three drinks a day kind of gal, for many years, with no apparent ill effects other than the weight it put on me (I put on myself with it?). I was looking into WLS, and I knew that two or three drinks a day would be a problem if I went that route, so I decided to just quit and see if I could. The quitting phase was spread over about three months during which I didn't drink except on special occasions, so like a few drinks a month (not "Hey, it's Friday!"). I didn't even drink on election night, if that says anything :o 

That made me feel like I could make "not drinking" be a way of living I could deal with. Then, about a month and a half before surgery, I seriously quit quit, no exceptions. I didn't have any alcohol at all for five months, at which time I had a half a glass of wine and determined that stopping at a half a glass was fine (husband's birthday). A month after that I had a glass on my own birthday and was OK with stopping there. That was last month. I feel like for me, anyway, drinking must have been really just a habit rather than an addiction because I haven't been bothered by this change. I've actually grown to like it. You might want to give this route a go just to test the waters for yourself. If you feel like it's very hard, AA or another program might be a better option for you.

For me, I finally decided that losing weight was worth basically almost any price. A deal with the devil, if you will. "So, I can't ever be a drinker again, or eat large amounts of food, and I have to give up sweets and refined carbs? But I'll lose crazy amounts of weight? OK, let's do it." I was pretty depressed before surgery, but that has gone away with the weight - I always thought the depression was because of the weight, and now I can see that I was right about that.

Statistically, bypass people have a higher risk of developing alcoholism post-op than sleeve people. I know to be very very very careful about this. 

Your worry about cost should not be your primary worry. If you're really strapped, there's always abroad if you find a reputable place. It's a big decision that will affect your life in a big way - saving a few quid by doing the band is probably not your best choice.

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The complications for band is great.  Look up revisions here. As stated many surgeons do not do them here any more. It could  definitely put your health at more risk than being obese in my opinion.  

I also started my weight loss journey by looking into the band.  Do your research thourghly!  

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19 hours ago, cinwa said:

And as you're self-pay, don't forget to factor in the additional costs of having fills/un-fills?  In the US, the average cost of a fill is  $150.00 (about £115.60).

This also was a turn-off for me, once I learned about the sleeve and gastric bypass. The Band is a mechanical device that is placed inside of, and like a car, will always need adjusting and maintenance, and eventually removal and replacement. Sleeve and bypass are changes to you biologically; they are tools made from your own flesh that stay with you, and stay working, for life.

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Gastric bands are pretty rare in Australia these days as well, and I believe barred in the publicly funded hospitals. Common sense alone should be suggesting that something is seriously awry with that procedure to see so many bariatric surgeons shying away from it.

As to the wine situation.....my sister had a gastric band put in about three years ago. She too has a pretty stressful job and tends to consume 2-3 glasses of wine each night. Her eating habits don't appear to be unhealthy, but she hasn't lost any weight since her surgery, rather has managed just to maintain what she weighed after her pre-op diet. She claims to be happy about that, but I suspect that's just a front. The wine seems to be an outlet as much as anything else, because she can eat very little still. She enjoys it, but they are empty calories and seriously affecting any chances she had for losing more weight. In her case it isn't just the wine though from what I've observed....it's also the cheese and crackers etc that tend to be almost mindlessly consumed while the wine goes down.

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I also self paid, so my sympathies are with you. Please take your time in making the best decision for your health and not your pocketbook. I'm echoing what folks have said above. 

Several of us have gone abroad to get our WLS because of the self pay issue. I had my RNY in Mexico and I am thankful everyday. Look up RAHCreates on YouTube. She is from the U.K. and had her surgery in Poland. She's been an inspiration to me.  

I hope you won't let the tough love we are showing you make you shy away from this forum. We are a non judgmental bunch who have all been desperate and scared about our weight. We are here to hold your hand and answer questions about WLS. We genuinely care about you. 

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Hope you're still with us, chessboard. We are here to help. You've been given a lot to think about from some very wise folks. How are you feeling? 

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Thank you everyone who replied to my post. I've been doing some soul searching. I think much of my weight is from alcohol rather than over eating - or over eating following drinking alcohol. So I'm not sure how to progress now. I have my consultation appointment next week. So I'm undecided at the moment .... So feeling a bit confused. And also some self berating because I should have more self control:-/

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Alcohol is a huge risk, best to stay away, i get it

 

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1 hour ago, Chessboard said:

Thank you everyone who replied to my post. I've been doing some soul searching. I think much of my weight is from alcohol rather than over eating - or over eating following drinking alcohol. So I'm not sure how to progress now. I have my consultation appointment next week. So I'm undecided at the moment .... So feeling a bit confused. And also some self berating because I should have more self control:-/

Don't berate yourself. It's not about self control. You said earlier you are successful in your career. In my opinion people don't have successful careers without having lots of self control and self discipline. I spent years beating myself up for just this. I would think - I can meet any deadline given to me. I can execute on any task. I will pull all-nighters for school or my career. Why cannot I not stop eating?! This line of thinking made me feel worse. Food made me feel better. So I would just eat more. 

I think it is great you are thinking about this and trying to determine the best option for you. We are all here because we overate and/or used food to soothe ourselves. Until I acknowledged I was addicted to food, I never really did anything I liked in moderation. If something tasted good, I wanted 7 servings. If something was fun, I wanted to do it all the time everyday. 

Be kind to yourself. We are all rooting for you!

Edited by Stephtay

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2 hours ago, Stephtay said:

It's not about self control. You said earlier you are successful in your career. In my opinion people don't have successful careers without having lots of self control and self discipline.

This is so good! My surgeon said something similar-- most of her patients were people that were very successful at most things they put their minds to, outside of continued maintenance of low weight. It is a stark contrast in most of our lives.

Jen581791, Stephtay and NerdyLady like this

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What about the stomach getting bigger after sleeve surgery - does the surgery effectively only last until that happens?:blink:

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The RNY pouch and VSG sleeve is expected to stretch after surgery Chessboard but we should not rely on the early restriction to get us to goal nor keep us there.

The purpose is to use those early days of restriction to learn good eating habits and make wise choices.

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