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Living with Your Adjustable Gastric Band

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You’ve made a commitment to adjustable gastric banding surgery, because you need to improve your overall present and future health. Sounds manageable, shouldn’t be too difficult; the results following bariatric surgery, 1 year, 3 years and so on, will be worth it. So, you have the surgery and, for awhile, it seems like magic, weight is coming off slowly but surely and you are working hard to move toward greater health goals day by day. If all goes well, you will have few bumps in the road, right? Well, that’s the hope, not always the reality.

I can tell you this; you are not alone on this journey and you will probably experience a good degree of success with your adjustable gastric band even if you are faced with a struggle from time to time. The challenges and rewards of surgery go hand in hand. The challenges of all patients remain virtually the same: how do we combine all the team professionals, support services, along with family and friends, to make this surgery work for you? It may help to look at the big picture for a moment and remind ourselves of the common issues that weight loss surgery patients may be facing along the way.

Here are some common challenges that bariatric patients may encounter at any point in the post-operative journey:

  • YOUR HABITS ARE TOUGH TO BREAK: You are human and make mistakes; you have habits and memories of the way food is woven into your life over the years.
  • YOU ARE BECOMING COMPLACENT: You are very motivated as a surgery patient at the beginning, then become complacent and lose motivation over time, after losing a large amount of weight.
  • YOU'RE OFF TRACK: You experience daily life stress that distracts you from your post surgery lifestyle priorities and commitment to better health.
  • YOU ARE AFRAID TO BE JUDGED: You have gained weight back now that you are 3 or more years post surgery but are embarrassed to reconnect with your surgeon and supports in your bariatric community, patients and professionals alike.

In addition to team professional support from your bariatric surgery program here are a few things to consider:

  • CONVICTION: Support and encouragement from family, friends and mentors. Those who have a vested interest in you and your success are the key people who help you post surgery and beyond. Try not to hear all or nothing of what others may say; seek what is helpful to you and leave the rest. Time and education help reassure those around you that your decision to have surgery is a sound one.
  • CONSISTENCY: Staying on a regular schedule with the surgeon’s office consists of regular lap band fills every 6 weeks or more, follow up visits with the nutritionist, regular blood work and support group attendance are ways to promote best results with your adjustable gastric band.
  • SHARING AND RECEIVING: Many patients find the use of individual therapy helpful or a group setting to reinforce continuous learning and lifestyle improvements. This would be recommended in addition to program support group attendance.
  • ONLINE SUPPORT SYSTEMS: Online resources are very helpful as an addition to program as well as personal support.

So here are the essential issues of bariatric living:

  • Your consistent awareness of these issues will increase the effectiveness of your weight loss “tool” so you can maintain a long and happy partnership with it.
  • It is an emotional adjustment at times and requires perseverance.
  • You will bicker, even fight at times (with your band) and say things you will regret.

Just remember, the band can be very flexible at times and allow you make mistakes but it cannot help you if you do not help yourself. That’s what life partners are supposed to do, right? They provide consistent support through all the ups and downs of life, through good times and bad.

You will have a long and prosperous relationship with your gastric band if you work as a team; isn’t that really the goal, after all?

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