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my lapband story -- its not pretty (long post, but please read)



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I apologize in advance, i posted this also in the band removal forum, please dont bother to read twice!

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Hi all --

I am new to these boards and new to this removal board. I want to share my story and perhaps see if there is anyone out there that can relate to what has been going on with this band. Its an odd feeling to be completely unique in an experience, even among fellow bandsters.

After months of research and planning, i was banded on June 6, 2006. Let me first say that the date did not escape me (666) but I figured that if i were to reschedule based on the calendar date, that I did not have much confidence in my surgeon ... so on with the show. Oh, I should mention at this point that I was self-pay...and that I really didnt have 18k just sitting around, but I found it ... because this was for my health.

Quick history on me ... I am very short (5'1") and very round. At the time of the band i was in the 290s, and I carry all my weight in one place, my middle.

The band was put in and I did very well initally ... I lost weight due to the liquid diet and I was okay with that. Id actually spent many months on a liquid diet in my past so that part was not terribly scary. My first fill was another story. 2 months in and my port was already flipped. My surgeon always uses the UpperGI equipment so it was visibly flipped. He decided at that point that he should go back in and "fix" it. So ... we were back for surgery #2 in September to get the port fixed. Bye to another 5k, but again, its for my health.

My "minor" outpatient surgery for the port adjustment was my undoing. I developed post surgical complications and infections that kept me out of work going on 3 weeks. I ran a low-grade fever for weeks, but was told that its really not a fever until its over 102. I was constantly running 99-101 depending on the time of day. A couple courses of antibiotics and that went away. I spent a lot of time at my surgeons office. We were like best friends.

So ... funny thing happened about a month after Surgery #2. I was at work (finally) and leaned over my desk to reach something (short, remember) and noticed that my shirt was very wet on my stomach. Odd ... thankfully I was wearing a black cotton top. In the restroom I realize that I had sprung a leak.

Yes ... a leak. After much research I realized that what was going on was a seroma ... common with surgery involving a lot of tissue damage. My large surgery incision was constantly leaking a straw yellow "serious" Fluid. It wasnt infected ... it was just weeping. And it kept weeping for weeks, months, etc. Again, still best friends with the surgeons office. We just all thought it would go away. At one point it did close up. Very shortly after .. leaking from a new place (still along the scar of the incision that had been opened twice).

So .. life went on as usual ... just with a steady flow of bandages several times a day to contain the weeping. This went on for months. I will point out that a wound cannot heal if the seroma is springing like a leak. The seroma cannot be "cured" it just needs to go away.

I did go in for a fill, my first fill after the port correction. After using me as a human pin-cusion my doctor determined that alas, the port had flipped again. It was 100% flipped ... back to square 1. I will give him credit, after essentially saying "gosh, that shouldnt have happened" he did manage to give me a fill. I will spare you the details, just know there is a lot of manevuring you can do with what are essentially 2 knitting needles. I still had an open would where my incision was at this time, but I was smart enought to get antibiotics to keep infection free.

After more time, my incision never healed. It just kept weeping. At some point I was refered to a wound care doctor. I went ... once. Was told to pack my wound with this special gauze (again, i will spare the details) but that didnt last very long. One day when I did not follow the schedule ... not that i was very good at packing a 7cm wound, it seemed to close up a bit.

Well ... I have been pretty much living with that same open incision, bandages, tape for the last ... gosh, over a year now. I stopped going to my doctor. Partly due to being disgusted partly due to avoidance. I just wanted it to correct itsself. As long as nothing "changed' i knew what was going on.

Enter change. I did start packing my wound a bit a couple weeks ago, not fully, but i figured it would perhaps stimulate some tissue growth and maybe my wound would heal. It has not. What I did notice one evening is that I can actually see something in that wound. Its white. I believe it to be 1) the port 2) the tubing ... either way, I should NOT be seeing that for any reason ... and the fact that the port would have moved north like that is fairly scary.

So, I am here reading up on band removal. I need to schedule time with a surgeon ... if not the one I already used ... and get this thing out. I am sure you are wondering why I would live with this incision issue for so long. The answer is not that easy to explain. My surgeon looked at this weepy open incision for months before he sent me to a wound care. He didnt seem terribly concerned as it was not infected and figured it would work itself out. When something becomes "normal" its easy to take comfort in the status quo ... no changes...for the better or worse. Better than changes for the worse, right?

Anyway ... I am now totally hip to the idea of getting this band removed. I will say that I have NO idea if the band would have worked for me or not ... I dont PB all the time, but thats because I know I cant eat until the afternoon. I come home, drink a glass or 2 of wine... and have dinner. I am unable to excercise due to the incision. But I still love ice cream (sadly). I am now in the 260 lb range, have been for over a year.

All of this story to lead me to a couple of basic questions:

1) does anyone know of a doctor in the atlanta area that might be a good choice for consultation on the removal ( i dont want to go back to mine if i can avoid it)

2) how much have people paid for the removal when its self-pay in a hostpital? My old surgeon worked out of the Hosp and not a surgical center.

3) what is the recovery time? One of my big concerns is that I am fairly important at my office for day to day activity and its hard to take time off. I dont have another 3 weeks happy.gif

Any advice, thoughts, questions are welcomed.

Thanks for reading.

Allison

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Dear God, I'm so, so sorry for what you've been through. I don't know anyone in the Atlanta area but perhaps you should call the Obesity Control Center in TJ. They have lists of American doctors if patients need emergency help. You can find them on the web.

I hope this all works out for you.

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In my opinion, I would find a good lawyer and sue your surgeon for negligence. There is no way in he** that I would pay for a band removal. If you find a lawyer, he will either take the case or not take the case. After he takes the case he will refer you to his doctors and get a second opinion. These doctors that the lawyers send people are specialists and they usually know what they are doing.

This is the way I would go.

Good luck and sorry to hear about your misfortune.

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I have a good friend who is a surgeon. He does wound care and his colleagues do lap band surgeries and removals.

I live in the Atlanta area and do not want to make the mistake of visiting this surgeon.

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Thank you all for reading my story and your thoughts and advice.

As a quick followup ... I did go see my current surgeon Friday afternoon. I had taken a xanax prior to my visit ... well ... because the whole thing makes me a bundle of anxiety! I figured I would either get blessed out for having not been back since March ... or in the very least poked and prodded a bit. To my relief none of that really happened.

He did say let me know that the port was right by the incision ... which was of course not new news to me as I could see it and feel it!

He didnt think it was a big infection, perhaps a small skin irritation given the fact I have a foreign body sitting at the surface of an open wound. Not surprising either.

So ... these are the options he gave me:

1) remove *this* port ... let it heal ... and put in a new port in a new location, maybe the left side of my body

2) remove the whole band system and revise to an RNY. He feels the bypass would be more successful for my and perhaps my body type.

3) come back in a month ... we will talk to the insurance company and see if we can get some insurance help on costs.

thats it.

Well i have spent the last 24 hours obsessing over these options.

I am not knocking the RNY, i know its what insurance covers and what a lot of people do ... i have just never felt like its what I was willing to do at this point in my life. I've never been successful with gambling...rolling the dice at a new port doesnt seem all too smart either.

I did look at other options.. VSG perhaps ...but no matter what I decide to do long term, for the short term I feel it needs to come out.

AtlSpeedy, I appreciate your link that you provided and I will be checking it out!

my best,

allison

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Personally I would have the Sleeve done. I'm not sure if there is a lot of insurances covering it at this time.

There are a lot of doctors in the Lap Band business for the $$. My original surgeon was all about the $$.

Best of luck to you.

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Hi All,

I don't understand, don't you get aftercare included in the price of your orignal surgery. I mean its not your fault the port never healed, its also not your fault that you need a new one. Its the fault of the surgeon. I had a band slippage and had the repositioning done within 2 weeks of the slip and all of that was included in the orignal price which in Ireland is 10 thousand Euro. As are the fills and follow ups for the life of the band. Its important when choosing a care provider that you check out what their contract with you is. Good luck with your band and I do hope it can be sorted out with out too much grief to you.

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Hi Coco,

My issue with the aftercare isnt with the doctor or surgeon, its the cost of the hospital. Just becase the surgeon will do the fills ... and do the port revision surgery as part of the aftercare doesnt impact that the hospital has charges from the or, anesthesia, etc. So, thats where the money comes in. the Surgeons fees are cheap compared to that.

allison

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I Too Had The Same Problem With My Port Incision, They Just Stiched It Back Up From The Outside And Stiched It Up Good Havent Had A Problem Since I Had It Done Over A Year Ago, It Is Ok To Resuture An Old Incision

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Nosilla

I feel for you. I used to be completely against the RNY, I am a bander after all. But then I thought, how does that sound, I'm willing to get a foreign object put in me and am knocking people for being bypassed? I thought, that sounds like a bit hypocritical. So, if you feel the need for a bypass by all means, think about it. It does have complications and they are pretty severe, but so does this dang band. Although the complications with the band will nickel and dime you, unlike the RNY where the complications are big.

You've been thru so much. I understand the pain of never ever wanting to be morbidly obese again. After all, I'm still obese, but because of this if something goes wrong with my band, you better believe I'm not going to snub my nose at the gastric bypass. My life has improved drastically with weight loss and I can't imagine being without some type of tool. Peace to you.

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Alison, I'm so sorry that this has happened to you. I am a nurse and as I read this I had a few questions. Have you had previous surgeries? Are you a diabetic? and what is your medical history. I have seen some botched up jobs on patients and it maybe that this is one of those. I don't believe it just happened.

sharon RN/MSN

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Wow...I logged back in to this platform as my journey continued and forgot this thread was here. I can’t believe I’ve been in this band nightmare for over 12 years!!! In 2007 I finally got the port removed. My doctor very nonchalantly said “it tested positive for MRSA infection”. I had NO idea the implications. He handed me a card for an Infectious Disease doctor and told me to go across the street to their office. Again, NO idea what was ahead. Suddenly I had a nightmare of a PICC line (took 2 excruciating days to insert) for Vancomycin and a wound vac system. I had both of these for weeks, my home was a virtual hospital. I even took that show to work a few times. Crazy. That was over 10 years ago.

In those 10 years I had just the band. I’d never been able to get it removed because it wasn’t presenting obvious negative effects and my insurance wouldn’t cover it. After a decade I finally started the path to revision to a sleeve. I had the band removed on 10/26. It was very complicated. My outpatient procedure turned into 6 days in the hospital. The band had eroded into my stomach (common) but also had RAVAGED my small intestines. The new surgeon said he had never seen anything like it. He had to get the band out of several spots in the intestines and do a lot of repair work. While recovering, about 24 hrs after surgery, things went south. BP low, breathing shallow, heart rate up, fever...ugh. Many tests later and we determined that my chronic Diverticulitis had flared up and was causing the additional pain and infection. It was a very long 6 days, and the fevers kept coming. After being released and on a better coarse of oral antibiotics, things are finally better. It’s been 3 weeks and I am almost not in pain.

It was a miracle I didn’t have a blockage, or major infections with that band. I now think my bowel perforations and infections may be related to the band. I had no idea and I guess the band was never visible in the CT scans. Anyway... I wanted to finish my 12 year saga.

I’m almost second guessing the sleeve surgery. I feel like I am 4/4 with bad surgery issues...but the reality is that a lot of things (if not all) were caused by that awful band. I may have the surgery, but it will be after the New Year. That bums me out because it will very VERY expensive with out of pocket costs...but realistically I need more time to heal...and I am unable to miss a wedding on Dec 29th. Not sure anyone will read this...but that’s where I am. Xx

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Wow what a saga! I'm glad to hear the band is out and that chapter in your life is over. What an experience!

Sent from my SM-G960U using BariatricPal mobile app

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