Ask the Gastric Bypass Patient Who Tried Everyting Else Before Resorting to Surgery

Yes, I know. I feel like talking about myself. It’s shameless and selfish, I understand. But it is also true that after trying EVERYTHING else I found that weight loss surgery was the only way to seriously help me with my problem. And I know a bit about it. I’ve been a good “researcher.” I didn’t just take the doctor’s word for it when they said it was a good idea.

And since I’ve mentioned it in about 1,0000 threads since I had it done, I figured it was only fair to make a space to talk about it directly rather than just mentioning it in every thread I posted in.

I had a Roux en Y gastric bypass on October 1. I’ve lost 90 pounds so far. I still have some distance to go, but I feel completely NORMAL now…comfortable, able to move, happy with the way I look, etc. Since I was such a good researcher, and since my nutritionist has actually written “exceptionally compliant” on my chart, I feel like I might be a good person to ask about this process. As well as about the horrors of being overweight and being trapped in a body that makes you miserable.

I have a very strict diet now, mostly prescribed by ME. Sugar can make bypass patients ill, so I simply haven’t had any. Too much fat tends to make me feel like there are fishes swimming in my stomach, so I avoid it.

I’ve been bad about avoiding alcohol and caffeine, which are gastric irritants and not recommended for people in my condition. But I’m willing to be honest about that and tell you how it makes me feel and suggest that you avoid it.

So, bring it on! If I don’t know the answer already, I can get it from my surgical team.

Thanks for indulging me :slight_smile:


My mother is considering having gastric bypass. She keeps asking for my opinion and I am on the fence. I was leaning towards yes until I saw your (?) thread in GQ asking about pain meds after the surgery. Mom has two bad knees and is developing arthritis. I don’t think she could go without her daily pain meds for very long.

I’ve never heard this discussed as a post-surgical issue, so what’s the scoop? Are maintenance-level pain meds ever acceptable after bypass?

Also, I know that my mother uses food for comfort and she is very undisciplined about eating. How hard is it to stick to your diet? Mom often eats to that uncomfortably-full point, so I’m not convinced that the threat of feeling sick is going to help her willpower.

I have to put a disclaimer in here that “I only know what I know.” But I have comments to make on this regardless of the hard and fast “facts.”

Fist of all, if your mom has decided to have this surgery, I think you should support her. It’s scary and it’s really horrible to have people telling you it’s not the thing to do while you’re heading for the needle, if you know what I mean.

LOTS of people, including myself find that their arthritis and other reasons for taking NSAIDS and other pain meds disappear very rapidly after having surgery. Of course, I can’t say if this will be true for your mom…no one can. But it can only HELP with this situation, not make it worse. It’s true, the surgeon will tell her no more NSAIDS starting about 10 days before surgery (since they are blood thinners and can be dangerous if they’re in your system going into surgery).

It was really at that point that I realized how frequently I was REALLY taking them and how much I depended on pain killers. Six months after surgery, I only feel like I need them for monthly cramps and an occasional headache. I’m sure it is your mom’s hope and also her surgeons that she will have the same experience. Also, having to figure out what kind of pain killer to take is HIGHLY preferable to being physically miserable 24 hours a day. There are plenty of trade offs and this is just one of them. If she is sure that she is ready for the trade, I say she knows what she’s talking about and should go for it. Losing 100 pounds should drastically cut down on her arthritis pain.

This is an issue for every bypass patient. Prior to surgery I had to go through psychological counseling during which I was asked, "What are you going to do for comfort when you can’t turn to food.’ Because the fact is that you can NOT turn to food. It simply will not go in to your walnut sized stomach. And eating sweets as comfort is NOT comforting…it makes people desperately (though not dangerously) ill via a mechnism called “dumping syndome.”

Your mother will be told by her surgical team (or should be anyway) that she is permanently giving up food as comfort.

The potential bonuses: She will likely lose her appetite for many of the things she can’t stop eating now. Gastric bypass permanently changes several hormones that make you crave food…hormones that every normal person has. So you just don’t want it.

Bonus #2, if you do want it, it can make you sick when you eat it anyway so you have incentive to avoid it. Excess sugar and fat make you very sick.

Bonus #3, if you are able to eat things that are bad for you, it’s only in teaspoon sized amounts.

The bad news is that yes, it will still be up to her in part. You can still “graze,” still choose to eat bad foods, still eat them even though they make you sick, etc. I would HOPE that after going through her surgeon’s program she would understand that and know what she’s up against. Surgery is only a tool to make it easier for you to eat well. You CAN defeat it.

In my experience (including a whole host of other that I know who have had surgery) it is quite difficult to defeat surgery. You have to be quite determined.

Realistic goals are good. Most people lost about 85% of their excess weight. In other words, they don’t become twigs. And they get their appetites back to some degree. The difference is that ordinarly, they have to avoid eating one cookie, rather than struggle to avoid eating the entire BAG of cookies.

I don’t feel comfortable being an “advocate for others to have surgery.” Because every individual and their doctor has to determine if they are good candidates. But it sounds like the problems you describe…inability to stop eating even when full, etc. are things that this surgery is supposed to HELP. I wish you and your mom the best of luck on the search for a solution!


Hey Choosy!

Glad to hear you’re doing so well. Congratulations! My question for you:

How did you decide upon the Roux-n-Y procedure? It is one of several, and I’m aware that there are pluses and minuses for each. I had figured the dumping synbdrome was a minus, but could see where others consider it a plus on helping them control their diet.

Thanks. :smiley:

You are right!

The only other procedure that I considered was a lap band, which is literally a band that they wrap around your stomach which can be tightened and loosened via a port under the skin in your abdomen. This has great benefits for certain types of “over eaters.” It’s the only other procedure that is commonly approved by insurance companies and surgeons alike.

The Roux en Y is really the gold standard in weight loss surgery. It has been done for 50 years (or more) and has been proven to be successful in helping people lose an average of more than 85% of their excess weight. It also reverses type II diabetes about 98% of the time. I didn’t have diabetes yet, but it runs in my family and was a motivator for me.

The lap band works great for people who are not binge eaters and are not completely addicted to sweets. I was both. With the lap band you are able to slowly sip milkshakes all day and maintain your weight if you choose.
Whereas I cannot eat sugar at all, which I consider to be a benefit of surgery for me.

Also, the lap band has not been done in this country for very long…only a couple of years if I recall correctly. So I was alittle nervous about being a guinea pig.

And yes, you are right…I was happy to find that I get sick if I eat too much fat. That’s part of the POINT of a gastric bypass as far as I’m concerned (though not everyone has this problem). It’s a deterrent to eating high calorie foods, and a deterrent to overeating that you just don’t get with other surgical options.

Previous to surgery I had NO appetite shut off…i.e., i could eat an entire bag of Oreos and still wish I had another. Fear of dumping syndrom and the little experience I’ve had with mild dumping has kept me from falling back into old habits as I heal from surgery and am able to eat more.

People who choose to have the lap band surgery DO tell me that they consider dumping to be a “minus.” They want to be able to have a piece of birthday cake at their nephew’s party…completely understandable! They want to be able to eat and enjoy some things that I will probably never eat again.

I was just at a point in which I felt like those things were running my life and I was SICK of them in more ways than one. I don’t miss them now and I hope that continues into my future.


I had GBS on 11.11.04 - RNY laparoscopically. I’m down 86 pounds as of today.

My motivators were high blood pressure & sleep apnea. Bad on their own - potentially lethal when combined. I was off my CPAP machine within 10 days of the surgery, and off my blood pressure medication within 3 weeks. I’ve joined a gym - I can exercise without joint agony now and I enjoy it very much.

I’m glad you decided to do an “Ask the…” thread - I had considered it myself. There are so many misconceptions about this surgery.

Here’s to continued success for both of us!

Wow, you lost FAST! Good for you!

I hadn’t developed any obesity related illnesses YET. And I was desperate to avoid them. It’s amazing how quickly you were able to get off of your blood pressure medication. Hurrah!


Thanks for starting this thread! I’ve got a few questions, if any of these are TMI or impolite please ignore them.

I think you touched on this already a bit but I’ll ask specifically. When you feel full now is it just a “full stomach” feeling or do the mental cravings, the watering mouth, the heightened sense of smell for food, go away too?

You’ve been exceptionally compliant on your diet so far, had you ever kept to a diet for six months straight before you had surgery? What was the longest?

Did you try eating like you have to eat now before the surgery? If so, what was that like?

What do you have to take for nutritional suppliments? Are they standard off the shelf things or perscription items? What does it cost per month?

How do your ,umm, bowel movements smell now? I’ve heard they’re bad in a bypass patient but I don’t know first hand. How about your breath? (this is the TMI part, I don’t think I’ve ever asked a stranger how their 're poop smells before.

What is ‘dumping’?

My dad is extremely overage, and I talked with mom about GBS but she seemed to think that it wasn’t worth it as most people plateau and then begin regaining the weight. What do you know about this? I don’t know anything about this so I’m just parroting what she told me.

Nah, there’s nothing here really THAT intrusive!

Short answer: All of the above.
Long answer: This differs for everyone as far as I can tell.

I no longer really crave anything. I used to have big problems with binges on sweets. Now the thought makes me feel nauseous. What I eat tastes good to me and I enjoy eating. However, I just don’t have the appetite or drive or whatever it was that made me eat certain things before. I have a feeling this is partially due to physical changes after surgery and partly due to simply psyching myself up for a permanent change.

Also, feeling full is actually painful. And it simply doesn’t work. My new stomach is not that elastic. So anything “extra” that goes in…be it a sip of water, a half a walnut, whatever…just comes right back up. That probably goes a long way toward killing your interest in food fast.

Prior to surgery, as you can probably imagine, I was on EVERY comercial diet that I’m aware of, as well as making attempts at my own programs. I once took prescription appetite suppresants and lost 85 pounds on my own. I simply exercised a ton and only ate what the meds would allow me to eat, which was very little.

I felt WRETCHED the entire time I was on them. When I stopped taking them, the weight came back on over about a year or so. It was the most depressing time of my life to watch myself go back to my former miserable self.

There were times when I was compliant with diets, such as Jenny Craig, for a significant amount of time. And I slowly lost weight on them sometimes. But in the end, I found that I was unable to keep up the type of strict caloric intake necessary to lose such a huge amount of weight over a very LONG period of time.

I no longer feel like beating myself up about this the way I did prior to surgery. Approximately 1% of the people who get as obese as I was manage to lose weight and keep it off. For whatever reason, I was simply NOT one of the 1%. I had lost control over what I was putting into my mouth.

I have to take a regular multivitamin (2 Flinstones a day) plus extra calcium, extra B12, and extra iron. I’m also taking biotin under the possibly superstitious notion that it will help keep my hair from falling out (bypass patients sometimes lose some hair because of the rapid weight loss an inability to take in enough protein).

The cost? I’m not really sure. I have yet to go through a bottle of calcium, and my Flinstones are around $17 a month. I get all this stuff off the shelf and don’t require anything really unusual.

My bowels work like a normal person. I EAT like a normal person now except that I have no sugar ever and I eat smaller amounts. So I haven’t noticed anything unusual in that area. Immediately after surgery for about two weeks people usually have a LOT of gas. They pump you full of carbon dioxide to make room in your abdomen to get instruments in. This gas has to come out. It’s painful and gross.

As far as I can tell my breath is normal too. I know it can get bad if you go into ketosis from eating nothing but protein. I may have had that issue earlier on, since carbs are REALLY hard for me to get in.

Does that answer almost everything?

After a gastric bypass your food does not come into contact with the area of your intestine where you ordinarily absorb most of your calories, and where you break down and absorb sugary things.

Because of this your sugar is absorbed in an abnormal way and eating too much sugar and sometimes fat causes symptoms which have been labelled “dumping syndrome.”

Symptoms of dumping include, diarrhea, nausea, headache, dizziness, cold sweats, shivering, heart palpitations, and others. It is not dangerous, but it is HORRIBLE. It is often considered a BENEFIT of having surgery, since it’s such a deterrent to eating high calorie, low nutrition foods.

What any patient can take after surgery varies wildly. I know someone who got “dumping syndrome” from the sugar in tomato soup, which I eat all the time. I also know a woman who regularly eats candy and has no problem.

My theory on this is that I don’t plan to see how much sugar I can eat before I get sick…that wasn’t the point of having surgery to me. So while I do get the sugar in fruit and in some carbs like bread, I do not eat sweets and never plan to again.

Also, I’m realizing that too much fat makes me ill in this way, and that “too much” is a lot different from what I might have considered it prior to surgery. I’m GLAD to find out that I can’t eat stuff that is bad for me…it helps me a lot.


Let me see if I can find a link to statistics this afternoon and get some more information to you. But basically, I believe the typical bypass patient loses about 85% of their total excess weight on average. People DO re-gain. In fact, there have been people who had this surgery more than once. (God, the horror!)

However, I think that’s quite rare. You really have to make a concentrated effort to out eat a bypass. In fact, I have to make a concentrated effort just to get 700 calories a day in!

Given a really EXCELLENT pre-surgical program (mine took more than 4 months to complete) the patient should be prepared for what they will have to do to comply with their new needs and not have re-gaining problems.

I belong to a message board of people who had this surgery at my particular hospital. Many of them struggle at a different level now and post things like, “Dang, I’m up to 135 pounds again and that’s a gain of 7 pounds for me!” So yes, there will most likely still be a struggle. But is the struggle on the same level, the same risk to a person’s health, and the same discomfort? Probably not.

I also want to say that I am in no way advocating surgery for anyone!!! Some individuals are not candidates. It’s dangerous surgery and the risks must be weighed very seriously before making this decision. I wouldn’t tell anyone it was a “good idea” as a blanket statement.

I personally don’t know anything about the subject, but their was an interesting article on gastric bypass in last month’s Prevention magazine. Here is a link

One of the things is mentions is

Still, studies have reportered 95% of traditional dieters regain any weight lost within five years.

Yes, statistics vary wildly depending on who does the study and where you find the answers. Here’s something I found from mayo clinic (

Fifty percent of your excess body weight is pretty amazing. IT’s the difference between being 150 pounds overweight and 75 pounds overweight. It’s also a tremendous health difference.

Also, there’s this from the American Society for Bariatric Surgery at

Compare that with another statement from the same place:

Also, if you do an in depth search, you can find hospitals and bariatric centers that have superior results due to their programs and diligence in keeping people on track after surgery. The hospital where I had surgery reports much more optimistic figures than these, backed up with solid patient data.

I’m considering having some type of bariatric surgery, once we are financially able to do it. Part of my religion dictates fasting from sunup to sundown from March 2nd through March 20th. (Yeah, this is the last day of the Fast. Yay!). But my faith also dictates that if fasting is medically unadvisable, we shouldn’t do it (for instance, it’s a bad idea for diabetics). Would having bariatric surgery make it medically unadvisable to fast?

My nephew is very over-weight. He has been overweight since he was an infant, I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon. I’d guess he weighs over 400 lbs and he’s about 6’2". Almost two years ago he was in a car accident. He had a severe fracture in one ankle, broke his other leg and needed a rod put in. He broke his all fingers in his right hand, his palate in three places, the orbit of his eye and some other things. Anyway, he’s having quite a lot of problems with his ankle. They’re talking of fusing it. He works as a computer salesman for CompUSA so he’s on his feet all day. He’s in constant pain.

The long and short of it is, do you think GBS and the resulting weight loss would help his other problems? I don’t hold out much hope for him to lose weight by other methods.


from Life After Gastric Bypass

That would have to be erroneous because it leaves no room for those who have successfully maintained a weight loss of more than half of what they lost.

After my RNY in 1998, I lost 91% of my excess weight. I wasn’t as cautious as Choosy, and gained back 18% of that loss over the next five years. But even then, I still had a 73% excess weight loss.

At that point my physician put me on a medication that is used in combating compulsive behaviors. It has worked exceedingly well. Over the last twenty months I’ve lost about a pound a month.

I don’t think about eating that much and have to remind myself that I really should get something for nourishment. (Other compulsive behaviors have also stopped.)

After seven years I am at an 85% loss of excess weight. I’m still losing and I look forward to the day when I will have lost all of the excess. I’m not trying to be thin, however.

Choosy, have your tastes changed? I’ve never particularly liked veggies, but I find myself thinking I might like come cold asparagas or grapefruit juice. Before, it was more likely to be chip and dip.

Also, I start to sneeze when I get full. Does that happen to you?

GBS has been the best thing that I have ever done for myself. It sounds to me like you are handling it even better than I did! Good for you!

I have never heard a medical doctor say anything positive about fasting. And it wasn’t a question that came up when I was preparing for surgery. I certainly have gone a couple of days without real food when I was having difficulties. But I doubt if any doctor would say it’s advisable either before or after weight loss surgery.

Again, I certainly can’t advise anyone else on whether surgery is a good move for them or not. At 400 pounds, your family member would be in a higher risk category anyway.

It’s probably a given that being a more normal weight would help relieve joint pain like ankle problems. I have bone spurs on my heels and my pain from that has completely disappeared.