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My Story


fruty77
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I was banded at the OCC on September 4th, 2007. I was extremely eager to lose weight and embark on a whole new lifestyle of healthy eating with this the help of this new tool that I had. Unfortunately, my story did not go quite like that. I was introduced to the OCC through my primary care physician while I was living in Fl. Although I was somewhat apprehensive of having surgery in Mexico, she spoke very highly of the OCC and Dr. Ortiz and had patients who already had the surgery and were successful. I did much research and decided to go through with the surgery. I lost about 18 lbs pre-surgery as directed by the OCC. The condition of the facility and the staff met my expectations and beyond. Everyone was very friendly and encouraging and Dr. Ortiz was very supportive while I was there. Traveling after the surgery wasn't super fun, but I got through it. I continued a liquid diet for about 4 weeks as recommended and slowly started to take on soft solids again. I started to feel what others had mentioned in their own experiences.. a tightness when I didn't chew the food well enough, an extreme full feeling if I over-ate. During some occasions food would come back up, but not very often. I felt like I was on track because I was going through what everyone else seemed to go through. I went to my Dr. in Fl and received about 3 fills over the course of a year and half. During that time, I did not lose any weight. However, I was happy that I hadn't gained any way so I was OK with that.

About 2 years after I was banded, I moved to Massachusetts and that is when I started to realize that the band was not going to work for me. The Fill Center USA seems to be a great tool for those of us who were banded at the OCC because most Dr.'s are not willing to provide fills to us if they didn't do the surgery themselves or were not familiar with the Dr. that did the surgery. Unfortunately, the closest location that Fill Center USA could offer to me was New Jersey which is over a 5 hour car ride. That was 2 years ago... and still to this day that is the closest location for a fill. On the bright side, while I was living in MA, I was able to visit family in FL and fit in a fill on my visit. That worked for the 1st year of living in MA and then it was getting more difficult for me to travel financially. So here I am, about 3 years out, I've had several fills, the only weight that I've lost was my pre-op weight and every time I eat (except dinner on occasion) I feel pain in my esophagus, a fullness on top while I'm starving in the lower portion of my stomach. For months I thought that maybe I was crazy for feeling full and hunger at the same time. But now I realize that was exactly what I was feeling.

Fast forward to about 3 months ago. I'm still living in MA, I feel hopeless because I went through a surgery, spent a ton of money, changed my eating habits and continue to endure discomfort at just about every meal and I still weigh exactly what I weighed the minute before I went into surgery. I felt like I had no where to turn to and no options. I'd called several Dr's to see if they would fill me but was denied. I assumed that my current insurance company would not be willing to pay for the removal of the band and that I probably wouldn't be able to find a surgeon that was willing to remove it for me.

I did some research and found a Center for Weight loss at a reputable hospital. I met with a surgeon there who told me that they no longer do the band operations because they have not seen much success from them. He assured me that he could remove my band and that my insurance would cover it. I explained how embarrassed I was and how I felt like such a failure for not losing any weight. In his opinion, if I had access to a local support group and had better access to a fill location, I would have been successful at this. But still, I couldn't help but feel like I failed somewhere in this situation. I have no problem taking responsibility for my actions. I didn't always eat perfectly but I did make lifestyle changes and I did seem to eat less but still no weight change.

Here I am, Sept 25th, 2011, a little over 4 years since my band was placed. I'm on day 4 post-op from getting my band removed. When the surgeon came in to see me before I left the hospital, he told me that the surgery went great, however he noticed that the band was placed too high up, almost onto my esophagus and not on the fundus of the stomach where it should have been. He said that this explains why I wasn't successful in losing weight and also why I felt discomfort in my esophagus as well as a full feeling up top while I was starving below. I'm going in for an upper GI this Friday to make sure there was no damage to my esophagus. I feel some relief in that this was not all my doing and because I'm able to shed the shame of not being able to lose this weight after all that I put myself and my partner through over the years, I am hopeful that I can work on this weight loss with motivation.

I'm not writing this to badmouth anyone, I had a good surgical experience at the OCC and I've read many success stories so I know that it is possible to use the Lap Band as a weight loss tool. I'm writing this to share my own experience and to make suggestions to those who are considering the band. If I knew that I couldn't get fills if I moved out of state, I would have NOT had the surgery. If I knew that I was the type of person that needs support groups that meet in person, I would NOT have had the surgery. But I did not find these things out until after the fact.

The placement of the band was out of my control and I can't take responsibility for that, I can only offer up my experience and knowledge to others.

I hope that my story can at least educate those of you looking to get banded to do more research on Fill locations and determine what works best for you when it comes to support. I think out of all of this, support was the biggest thing that I did not get.

Good luck to those of you who are considering the lap band.

Christina

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I am so sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience. Thank god you finally found someone that was willing to help you. Yes, the fill issue is a major one for a lot of people and that is something every new candidate needs to research and think about carefully. Thank you for posting your story

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I'm so sorry about your experience, but remember, that is the opinion of one doctor after you had already had problems with your band.

There are many fill providers that will do band adjustments for other doctors patients. It is true that some areas are harder to find those providers, but we do keep a list of providers in the US and Canada and beyond that will do adjustments for patients that were banded by other doctors.

Many of our patients are choosing the plication surgery if they are concerned about trying to find a fill provider, or just don't want to have to worry about adjustments with the band.

I tried to look you up Christina, so I could do some followup, but I find nobody by that name that had surgery at OCC on September 4, 2007.

No matter what surgery you have at OCC our doctors are available 24/7 for questions or concerns. You should always call them first when you are experiencing a problem or question about your band!

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Good luck, I'm going to be honest - we all own our success or failure - not the band - it’s a tool and we need to use it and own up to how we use it. That's the hardest thing to do. If its too high up I get it, but I'm surprised you didn't go back to the OCC for assistance ealier when it wasn't working.

Just like the barbell sitting at my desk, if I don't use it correctly (Or even pick it up and use it) it does me no good. If its broken and not working - I'm going in for help - but I also know that I'd most likely get a second opinion, I never do just one. (I've had too many doctors tell me one thing - then another say something else).

(One quick note - the most successful bandies from our group stay active on the forum, they come here for help and support).

You have to work it, and work it as hard as you can. I lost over 140 pounds, and I worked my ass off and I continue to do it on a daily bases. That's what it takes to be successful. Doctors will tell you different things, I really wish you'd gone back to the OCC if thats where you went originally - have it looked at and get their opinion. I'll be honest - early on if I had you close I'd most likely get you into a fill center often- get a good fill for you - have you attend classes on healthy eating and get you working out. I'm sorry when people tell me they are working hard, eating small amounts and exercising and you can't see then losing weight or changing their bodies - I'm going to be honest - you aren't. It’s hard to hear but you can't cut down on eating and add in exercise into your life and not change your body - it’s not possible.

If you try something like this again – get active in the support system – you haven’t been and that was your first fatal flaw. You'll spot trouble faster. Second – I drove 4 hours to get my band filled – had the big one and had 10 fills – I didn’t care what it was going to take I was going to make this work – and I did. I got into eating healthy – realized the band was a tool and I needed to change my life – I then started exercising and do it almost daily. Don't wait years to see success - we know based on feedback from this forum how the succesful people live and their timelimes of success.

You want something bad enough you’re going to succeed – nothing is guaranteed in life. I changed mine – been very athletic and healthy for years now, but it’s my success – the band helped a little but I did all the hard work and it paid off. I can tell I’m not going to go back to being morbidly obese, my life is not the same. I’m living now and will never give up, the band was the tool that it took for me to get here.

I understand your frustration, but I'd tell you to go to the mirrow and look straight at yourself and get that you own it. Not to look back and feel bad - but to go forward and become succesful with whatever method you chose.

Take care, I wish you the best.

Lisa

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Even as a beginner banster I have to agree with Lisal! I researched my options before my decision to get banded at the OCC. I was aware of effort and cost for the aftercare.

And I am not talking about the dieting effort.

For me it will be a whole days affair to get filled. I am planning to fly to San Diego and go to the OCC to get filled.

I don't think I would have gotten banded if it meant to have to get filled in the USA. There are a couple of other option which will not require us mexican bandsters to be subjected to the greed and jealousy of american doctors.

I live in las Vegas and a local surgeon will give you fills for an initial fee of $500 to get established as a patient and an additional $450 for the fill.

It will cost me $150 for round trip ticket to SD and $199 for the fill and transportation across the border to get my fill at the OCC.

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I will also agree with Lisa. I just recently kick myself in the A**, I had gotten complacent and not stay true to what I knew was the path to success. I gained 10 lbs back and was getting very down about the world. Today was my first pilates class and tomorrow is my first Bellydancing class. I am back on the path and (cross my fingers) will not deviate again, but if I do, I will give myself a slap and jump back in again.

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  • 1 month later...

Wow Christina.. I'm so sorry to hear that this happened to you. I have to agree with everyone above. The band is just a tool, it's not going to do all of the work. The same way a diet pill is just a tool. There was someone on here who got the band and *never* got a fill. She got down to her goal weight!! She knew it was just a tool.

I didn't have much success until I started keeping a log of my calories.. Through keeping a log I noticed I needed more fruits and veggies and less processed food. The weight hasn't flown off of me in my eyes, it's been slow, but that's the way I want it. I only have about 35 more pounds to go, but it's taken me 2 years to get to where I'm at.. And with school and work I haven't been able to exercise as much as I should. That's about to change and I can't wait.

Good luck with whatever you plan on doing next Christina. I really wish you the best of luck. I wish that you would have contacted the OCC and talked to Dr. Ortiz before you decided to have the band removed. That was a lot of money to drop on the band, and if it indeed wasn't placed properly, or in a position that worked for you, I'm sure Dr. Ortiz would have done whatever it took to make it right.

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I too agree with all those above. I am working on two years and it has been very slow going...most of this my doing..I know at times I do not use my tool properly..a lot of it mental, and it takes support, reading, weighing, logging, all the things I might have thought I could "give up" and wait for the band to do the work..wrong, you still have to do the work. I find your comment about being full on top and starving down below interesting. I would say that's about right depending on how you look at it. Often I am full on top but can feel "hunger" down below..the band has just made it quieter, which during my research is what was suggested would happen. I can live with that..I too will never go back..I think a lot of it is mentally deciding what you can or cannot do..and yes, you have to have a support system either online or in person..maybe both. Don't give up, find something that works for you but know it is still work..I am 90 pounds lighter and it is so worth it..I can deal with the new habits, and the band. I too believe you should have contacted the OCC for ideas or adivce on what you should have done..no way would I have waited months/years...good luck..

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