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Lap band failures drive many to safer weight loss surgeries


 

Postop lifestyle changes critical to success

Bariatric surgeons and patients alike also say that no surgical procedure is a magic-bullet solution for weight loss. Patients who have any type of bariatric surgery must embrace postop lifestyle changes – adopting healthier diets, getting more exercise, cutting out unhealthy habits – to lose weight and maintain weight loss.

Jan Lasecki, 54, a health care specialist in Akron, Ohio, who had band-to-sleeve conversion surgery in 2020, said the postop follow-up was at least as important as the surgery itself in helping her shed pounds.

She said at first, she chose lap band surgery several years ago because it was “less invasive” than gastric sleeve or bypass. But while she lost about 50 pounds, she regained it after about 6 years and had other complications.

So, 2 years ago, Ms. Lasecki had two surgeries 6 months apart – one to remove her band, and a second to create a gastric sleeve. And the results, she said, have been very successful, in part because of the changes she made after surgery, with the help of her doctor’s staff.

“I have now lost about 90 pounds and have kept if off since surgery,” she says. “I would tell anyone considering any bariatric surgery, it was definitely worth it [and] having the sleeve resulted in greater weight loss.”

The follow-up was key to the success, she said.

The staff “have the tools and support to help you when you tend to fall back on old behaviors and start to regain weight,” Ms. Lasecki said. “They can help you before it gets out of control. I had no issues following either procedure from a surgery perspective.”

Sally and Robert Cordova – who had gastric bypass and sleeve surgeries, respectively, 3 years ago – agreed that the postop lifestyle changes are critical to success.

“When we agreed to have this surgery, we agreed that this will be a lifestyle change for the rest of our lives,” said Sally, 48, an accounting specialist who’s lost 150 pounds – half her body weight – since her surgery. “You can’t just get to your ideal weight and then stop.”

Robert, 47, a federal border control agent whose workmates nicknamed him “Big Rob” when he tipped the scales at 336 pounds, said it’s a mistake to think of the surgery as a “magic-bullet” solution to obesity. There’s more to it than that, he said.

“One of the things I like about the process I’ve taken is, in my opinion, they set you up for success,” he said. “Because it’s not just having the surgery and you’re done; it’s all the classes educating you about all the lifestyle changes you have to do, and starting them before the surgery. The only people that I know personally who haven’t been successful with the surgery are those who haven’t made the lifestyle changes.”

Today, at 230 pounds, Robert says he’s never felt better.

“I feel great,” he says. “I have become more active, obviously doing everything is a lot easier. It got to the point where it was a task to just tying up my shoes!”

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