Carol's Story: Halving body weight with a gastric band
I have had a weight problem all my life, even as a child. I have been on one diet or another, calorie counting, liquid, weight watchers, slimming world, every conceivable diet imaginable, Hypnosis, counselling and slimming pills, over the counter and GP prescribed. I would lose a few pounds and then put it back on plus more.
By the age of 50 my weight was 196kg with a BMI of 62. My GP was very supportive and agreed a gastric band may help.
I met with Mr Boyle in May 2006. He explained it was not a quick fix, and it was a total lifestyle and lifelong commitment. He arranged appointments with other members of his multidisciplinary team to see if I was committed and aware of the implications and a suitable candidate for surgery.
I saw the dietician who explained the need for a low fat diet the week leading up to the surgery, so that the liver would be more pliable during the operation. I also had an assessment with the nurse, and the anaesthetist, who explained in great detail the risks etc of the anaesthetic.
On 23rd August 2006 I had the gastric band surgery. After a very comfortable night with no pain, I had my first breakfast – about two tablespoons of yoghurt. Mr Boyle came round and explained how things had gone etc. The dietician visited and went over the food plan for the next three to four weeks; it was to be liquid to very soft.
I chose baby food tins and jars, and just added a little more seasoning eg curry powder and spices. I did not feel hungry. It was really strange, after the first month you start introducing normal foods. This was no problem just as long as it was more mushy than usual. The only real craving I had was for cheese, but I found a low fat cheese dip in a jar – Brilliant! Just a teaspoon would suffice.
By the first six weeks I had lost 11kgs. It was really great. The band adjustment went well and still no hunger pangs. Over the next few months my weight continued to drop. I had appointments with Mr Boyle, who was pleased with my progress; he also encouraged me to do more exercise although I always had exercised by swimming and exercise biking, even at my heaviest weight. I purchased an air walker, so every day I would walk and cycle indoors and swim two to three times per week.
During 2007 I was ill and in hospital twice, in no way related to the gastric band, and was unable to exercise for several months, but even through this the weight still dropped off.
By 2009 I had lost 90 kgs almost halving my weight and my BMI was down to 34 and the weight loss had slowed right down.
With the weight loss there were issues with saggy flesh and skin, my tummy extended almost down to my knees, my side arms and breasts were also sagging. So Mr Boyle introduced me to Mr Tanner a brilliant reconstructive plastic surgeon, who in September 2009 performed a tummy tuck and removed almost 7kgs of unwanted skin. Over the next two years I have had my sides, arms and breasts reduced.
My weight is now pretty stable at about 100kgs and my BMI is down to 32. I know I will never be elf like as I am almost 6ft tall. My energy levels and zest for life are amazing opposed to pre gastric banding days, when I was sluggish and depressed. And I thank God every day that I have met these two wonderful surgeons.
Carol - September 2012
NB: Carol had her band emptied in 2009 and currently has no restriction from it, but she has managed through diet and exercise to keep her weight stabilised.