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How did you know the surgery was right for u?

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I am currently overweight (I have a BMI of 37) and am considering having the lap band surgery done...I know i probably could not have it covered by my insurance but at the same time I feel like its something that might be an option....

I am writing this post in hopes that people will share storiesthe process went through to find out if this surgery was even an opiton for them... for example how they found their dr and what the initial consultation was like... i am esp curious to know what the screening process is in terms of what "qualifies" as a good canidate for the surgery and if some people are denied or discouraged from having it done...


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I'll try my best to answer your questions--they're very valid ones.

I first started looking at surgery about 3 years ago before it was approved in the US. I knew I needed help with my weight and I knew that bypass was not for me. The band seemed like a good alternative. At the time, I decided to give dieting another shot. I lost a little and then got pregnant. After trying another weight loss program after giving birth, I decided to look into lap band again.

The deciding factor for me was the final realization that I *could* succeed with the band. I had succeeded in the past with weight loss drugs (and a lot of work on my part). I just needed the tool to help me lose weight.

Once I decided, I did tons of internet research on doctors. I knew about many MX docs from my previous research. I found 3 local doctors and called around to find prices. I found one that was within my means and scheduled a consult. I very much liked him, but discovered that his experience was not even close to that of the MX docs. When that was combined with the cost, chosing a MX doc was a no-brainer.

Based on the recommendations (or more precicely the MX docs not recommended) on other boards, I narrowed my choice to 3 docs. I then cut out one doctor because I did not want to go to Monterrey--I wanted TJ. I then bought Dr. Ortiz's book and decided to go with him. I called and was able to schedule surgery for 1 month later.

As far as the screening process, it is much different in MX than in the US. My local doc wanted a psych eval, physical, nutritionist meeting, a meeting with a physical therapist, and one month of attendance at support group meetings. The MX doctor did blood work, an EKG, and a breathing eval the day before surgery.

My local doctor did say that some people with a sweet tooth (including people who drink lots of high-calorie liquids) might have a problem losing weight. I think the only other contraindication is for people who have had a particular type of GERD surgery. I guess you could be denied for serious heart problems, uncontrolled asthma, uncontrolled diabetes, or some other problem that would prevent you from having *any* surgery.

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Hi Ali,

I am (was) a BMI of 33.7. I had made the choice to have surgery after years of yo-yo dieting. I knew I could lose the weight but keeping it off was another story. I don't think I metablolize very fast so gaining it was so much easier than losing it. I found myself killing myself exercising uncontrollably to lose the weight. Eventually, I would lose steam and cut back... the weight returned. I have never been one to "eat unhealthily" so much as the amount I am eating. I seemed to have a bottomless pit and never felt "full".

My mother and sister both had gastric bypass and are doing wonderfully. However I saw their "dumping syndromes", vomiting, no sugars, strict dieting, pain after surgery for 2-3 weeks, scars, etc and thought to me... no way! Although they were pushing for me to go that route so I saw a local bypass doctor told me to gain 40 lbs and come back to him. Uhhhh, no thanks! I began more research about weight loss options.

I was in the supermarket and began a casual conversation with a woman (in her late 40's, early 50's). She was a average size woman and seemed in good health to look at her, about 180 lbs at around 5'6". We started talking over tabloid reporters photographing cellulite on celebrities. One thing led to another and we talked extensively (as our ice creams melted) about the lap band. I had never heard of it. She was a patient of Dr. Ortiz (she used to be 304 at one time!!). She even had before/after photos she carried! She said that although the conditions are somewhat different, it is very safe and the surgeons are extremely capable and at 1/2 the cost! I started doing research specifically on lap band. The only doctor I ever considered really is Dr. Ortiz. I took a gander at some others but I had had one of his patients actually TELL me they had the band and are doing fantastic!

So for months I researched. I found out all I could about the band. I found lap band talk forum and did searches and searches for information. I found good and the bad and I made my decision based on that.

Overall, I decided that I did not want to gain 40 lbs just to fight with an insurance company, I did not want to have all the bypass complications and wanted a more normal lifestyle, I did not want to pay $22000 for US.... on and on. I called Dr. Ortiz's schedule coordinator, Sandy (who by the way is the most patient and wonderful medical person I probably have ever talked to on the phone!) who helped me pick a date. I chose a date 2 months out because I knew I would have the time off and it allowed the idea to "sink in". In the meantime, I ordered Dr. Ortiz's book as well as other books on the subject and continued my research.

Within a week I had a phone consultation with Dr. Ortiz. He spent nearly 45 minutes talking with me answering all of my questions (I had a list) very patiently and thoroughly. He spoke WONDERFUL English wish hardly an accent at all. After the phone consult I was fairly sold on the idea in stone.

The office sent me a lengthy questionaire in which I promptly sent back. It asked all kinds of personal as well as family and medical background information. There were also some information and releases to initial and sign. I still have sent them no money and could stop at any time. I never at any time felt pressured to get the surgery.

Upon arriving to San Diego, there was a driver waiting in baggage to pick me up with my name on a sign. He carried my bags and drove me to the Obesity Control Center where I was greeted by Dr. Ortiz's office staff. They all spoke very good English and I was whisked away for blood work. Very fast, very painless, I got right in. When I returned I went to see the nutritionist for about a 30-45 minute consultation/interview/informational appointment. As soon as that was done I had time to go the bathroom then I went in with another doctor for the breathing test and EKG test. Again, very fast from one place to another. Just ONE of these tests in the US would have taken a 2 hour wait in a waiting room!! I had EVERYTHING done within 3 hours of arriving!!

While I was doing my pre-op testing my mother and sister were driven to the hotel. I arrived later and was pleasantly greeted by a doorman in full uniform. The hotel was very nice. It was clean and full of marble. The staff there all spoke very well in English. The restraunt was fantastic and the food was great! There is shopping within walking distance and is in a very safe part of town. The only thing about the hotel I thought was negative was the no heat. They give you a space heater for the room to compensate and it does do a good job.

The next morning we were greeted by Mrs. Ortiz (doctors mom) in the lobby to take us for surgery. I can't even tell you enough how much Mrs. Ortiz meant to me! She was like my second mom!!

And then, you are off on your journey/adventure..........the next few days are a haze and not much is actually remembered or recalled easily for me...........then..... Welcome to Bandland!

I can tell you that I had surgery on Wednesday and was back to a desk job by Monday. Driving for the first week was a bit difficult but other than that there was no real "pain" just uncomfortable. More achy then pain. On a pain scale of 1-10 I would rate my pain at first about a 3-4. After a couple days a 2-3. After one week a 1-2. I am now about a week 1/2 post op and have no pain at all. I can feel some soreness at the port site but I am still healing. My incisions are remarkably small and thin and Dr. Ortiz and Martinez did an AWESOME job at keeping them small, thin and straight. But then again, they knew how vain I am. :)

My suggestion for anyone considering banding is thorough research and calling Dr. Ortiz's office to set up a phone consultation.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My experience of choosing to be banded was one that took over 2 years of research and resistance - trying ANYTHING else before surgery.

First of all, you should know that I am a second generation patient of Dr. Ortiz. My mom had her band done 3 years ago. She is an extremely intelligent woman who is very thorough and well informed. She had previously had a triple coronary bypass, and had various other medical issues that could become complications and wanted to be absolutely sure of her

decision. She researched the various proceedures for over a year and met several doctors in the U.S. as well as Mexico before she made her decision to go to Dr. Ortiz.

The deciding factor was that at the time of her surgery, the LAP band proceedure was very new in the U.S. and Dr. Ortiz was the one who proctored (oversaw) the proceedure for certification of new doctors for the Inamed Company. Simply put, he was the best doctor

for the job with the most experience. Please know that money was NOT a factor in her choice. Quality was everything.

She has since taken off a total of 65 pounds, and has done it COMPLETELY her way! Yes the band helped her to make wiser food choices, but the whole reason that she chose the band over bypass was the ability to not HAVE to give any food up if she didn't want to. I was

amazed at her progress, and I was getting fatter day by day.

Flash forward 2 years to my finally being willing to take the steps to help myself. Going to Dr. Ortiz was basically a given. I found the Hotel Lucerna lovely - the staff was wonderful! They even remembered my parents, and I had an opportunity to "practicar mi espanol". All of my tests (cardio, nutritional counceling, blood work) were done on that first day. I was a bit nervous but ready to go. My surgery took all of 12 minutes - not even Dr. Ortiz' record!

I was back to work within a week, but I run my own company and didn't have anyone making me do anything I didn't feel O.K. doing. The liquid diet was not difficult at all

because for the first time in my life I wasn't hungry!!!! My nutrition was kept up by drinking

Isopure - a clear protein drink that I got from GNC (the body needs the protein to heal more quickly). I found that it tastes like melted ice pops - not too bad. Lots of broth, apple juice and V8 thinned down with broth (its good hot!) along with the liquid protein. The weight fell off during those 3 weeks - 20 pounds! I was thrilled!!

If I was willing to exercise more and eat less carbs, I'm sure the weight would come off more quickly, but I'm really O.K. with losing 3 to 5 pounds a month and not feeling deprived at all. I mean let's be real, if I was the kind of person who was into diet and exercise, I wouldn't have needed the band to begin with!

Since then, I have taken off an additional 30 pounds, and I have had 2 fills, both down in TJ - I am willing to make the trip to get the personal attention and care from Dr. Martinez and all of Dr. Ortiz' staff. For me, the quality is worth the extra travel expense. Now I am quite restricted and have learned to CHEW, CHEW, CHEW - something that I think I had never really done.

The best and most exciting thing is that after 7 years of trying to conceive with irregular menstrual cycles and infertility due to my excess weight, I just found out that I am PREGNANT!!~!~! Dr, Miranda, the nutritionist swore that I'd get pregnant within a year

if I lost weight, and frankly I didn't believe her, but damned if she wasn't right!

The AGB is a life saving, life giving surgery - it has been a real Godsend for me, and probably for anyone afflicted with obesity from not knowing what "full" feels like.

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