This post has been in draft format for quite a while, mainly because I never had the photo’s I wanted to go with it.
So nearly 3 years ago I had a Lap Band or Gastric Band surgically put in to try and aid with weight loss.
What is Lap banding or Gastric Banding? It is a “Keyhole/Laparoscopic” surgical procedure which takes about 30-45 mins, it is fastened around the upper stomach to create a smaller pouch which restricts the amount of food that can be consumed. They also place a port on your abdominals to give access for adjustments. Adjustments are simply done in your Doctors surgery by inserting or removing fluid to restrict or allow less or more food.
How much does “Lap Banding” cost? Well from memory it was about $16,000 full cost per person and about $5000-6000 out of pocket after our Health Fund (Top Cover) paid their part. I think Private Health Funds are becoming more aware of the fact, this type of Surgery is becoming more popular and changing their Cover so that only their Top Policy covers this. FYI at the time Hubby was with NIB and I was with NRMA (now Bupa). If you are considering it, contact your Private Health Insurer or if you don’t have one, then get 1, most from what I have heard require you to have the relevant cover for 12 months before the procedure. There are other surgical options, the sleeve or tube or gastric bypass and the temporary stomach balloon, so best to talk with a Gastric Banding specialist to see which 1, if any, are right for you.
To share my personal experience of Lap Banding, I have mixed emotions.
On the positive side: I have lost 25kgs and feel great; because of that it has given me the energy I need to exercise more and not put so much stress on my body carrying around all that extra weight; it has shown me I don’t need to sit down to giant meals or 3 courses all the time; I have learnt to share food (despite what my husband may say); I have been able to wear nicer clothes and feel better about how I am looking; I like getting my picture taken, more than I used to; I love that I have much better agility and ability to play with my little dynamite daughter.
On the negative side: “Keyhole” surgery, left 5 scars, 4 small and 1 much larger than I expected (see picture); if you are not careful how and what you eat you can vomit (often), this can also lead to slipping of the band and require further surgical procedure to rectify or have the band removed; over-eating with the band can cause reflux. I have had all of the above happen to me, I over-ate just a little bit ie 1 mouthful, too often, ended up on reflux medication, vomited one too many times and my band has slipped. What I did to fix this was have all fluid removed from the band and the reflux was gone immediately and I am assessing having the corrective surgery. But for the moment I am trying to eat better without having fluid in, it still offers restriction without fluid. The other negative is that you can eat junk food easier than you can eat healthy food, lettuce, apples, steak, dry chicken breast are all more difficult to eat than chocolate, chips/crisps, chicken schnitzel, cheese and crackers. This absolutely differs by the individual, as hubby and I have different things we can eat without trouble. Another negative is I got to 50% of my weight loss and plateaued and have been there for over 2 years, fluctuating by 3-5kgs over that time.
My Lap band doctor has said throughout the process that everyone going through the surgery should see a Psychologist, because as much as it is a weight-loss aid it still doesn’t fix the underlying problem that most patients have with food. Personally I think it should be compulsory.
In summary, I would do it again, YES, a 25kg loss is great and I haven’t been fitter in my adult life than I am now. But if you are considering it I would definitely look at some assistance from a Psychologist and/or dietician or other slow weight loss program and give it another go before going under the knife. I had tried a lot of options over the years and there will be an entire post about that at a later date.