Barbara Thompson

Weight Loss Surgery


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Hosted by Barbara Thompson
Author of:
Weight Loss Surgery:
Finding the Thin Person Hiding Inside You.

Issue #141

May 15, 2008


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In This Issue


* A Do-Over
* Preview: Murder Mystery Cruise
* Recipe: Yummy Zucchini Beef Skillet
* Success Story: Sharon Friesen

A Do-Over

I was reading your May issue asking for people to respond who had gastric bypass surgery 7 years ago. My surgery was October 2001 and I lost 156 pounds.  It was great when I was losing, but I couldn't handle all the changes and within 2 years started to regain weight. I have regained all but 35 pounds of what I lost.  I regret that it has happened and I'm trying to work on it. It's slowly coming off again.


Yes, it happens, more often than we would like to think.  In the March 2008 issue of General Surgery News*, it is estimated that between 10% and 15% of patients need revisional surgery because of inadequate weight loss.

Many of these patients had gastric bands inserted years ago. These are different than the Lap Bands today. But over and above this, there is an increasing number of patients who have had gastric bypass surgery, Lap Band surgery, duodenal switch surgery or sleeve gastrectomy surgery who want revisions often from one type of surgery to another.

These revisions are the most complicated and dangerous surgeries. Patients have a higher risk of complications and death because many have significant scar tissue and problems created by the first surgery. They also have higher BMI’s because of the failure of their first surgery.

Revisional surgery has received little attention and there are no guidelines or standards. And there are several approaches to revisional surgery.  Some patients want to try another surgery, for instance there are those who have been unsuccessful with Lap Band surgery or gastric bypass surgery who want to have duodenal switch surgery because patients tend to lose more weight with duodenal switch surgery. Gastric bypass surgery patients may want to have the stomaphyx  procedure (Read about this in my Oct 1 2007 Newlsetter) that makes the pouch and stoma smaller by using an instrument that goes down the throat to pleat the pouch and stoma tissue. Patients can have their stoma made smaller through sclerotherapy which scars the stoma with acid so that scar tissue makes the stoma smaller.  Or patients can have a band put around the pouch to make it smaller.

I had surgery in 1994.  At the time of my surgery I weighed 463 pounds.  I lost 250 pounds and was down to a weight of 213 pounds, regained back up to 300 and lost down to 190.  Then I regained again.   I am maintaining about a 125 pound  weight loss which at 338 pounds keeps me in the morbidly obese category.  I have since had 3 sclerotherapies since my stoma is totally stretched.  I have been told this happens a lot with long term post-ops.  I always felt hungry and my portions got bigger.  My pouch is in tact so there is no staple line disruption. 

The last time I had sclerotherapy it worked for about 30 days.  I just had it again two weeks ago and so far I get full fast, and I stay full for at least 3 hours.  If it holds, I can continue losing weight. I have lost 5 pounds in the last 2 weeks.


While it is true that not all weight regain stems from physical reasons. Most of us suffer from emotional eating issues and many are not able to control it. While much attention is given to the surgery itself, far less attention is paid to the mental health aspects. Surgery addresses half the problem and patients are often left to fend for themselves when they aren’t able to control eating or emotional issues stemming from losing a huge amount of weight.

“All patients deserve a second chance,” says Dr. Robert Brolin, Director of Bariatric Surgery at Princeton University but cautions that patients be screened for compliance and psychological issues so the patient doesn’t need a third surgery.   

While the percent of people who regain weight after their surgery may be even much higher than the 10% to 15% suggested by the General Surgery News article, there are many long term success stories as well. I don’t want to leave you thinking that all surgery fails long term, because it doesn’t. Here is just one of the long term success stories that I received: 

I had my RNY surgery on August 15, 2001 (almost 7 years ago) and have lost 255 pounds since then (from 420 pounds to 165 pounds).  I have maintained that weight for almost 4 years now and do go up and down as much as 5 pounds each month. My success comes from the fact that I was able to finally conquer my addiction to food and to changing my lifestyle through good food choices and exercise.  My weight loss surgery gave me the tools to accomplish this and I and my family will be forever grateful that I was given the opportunity to have this surgery done and the vast improvements it has made in my life. 


There are no guarantees. And because one person is able to maintain a weight loss and another isn’t does not mean that one person is “good” and the other person is “bad.” We are each individuals and our results will vary. But we can never give up the fight.

* Frangou, Christina. “More Bariatric Surgery Means More Revisional Procedures.” General Surgery News, Vol. 25:3, March 2008, p. 1, 15-16.

Join me on a Murder Mystery Cruise!!!

January 24-31, 2009

Sail with me to the warm and sunny Eastern Caribbean during what for most of us is the coldest part of the winter visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas/St. John and St. Maarten. During the 3 days at sea of the 7 day cruise join in the fun of a murder mystery each day.  A professional troupe from Toronto will entertain us with thrills, clues, conundrums, and red herrings. This will be a totally fun cruise with me and other weight loss surgery patients. We will sail on the Carnival Cruise ship Liberty which will sail out of Miami.

Prices will range from $930 per person double occupancy to $3100 per person double occupancy.

Email me at if you are interested. More complete details will follow.

Back on Track Program
Are you...
Suffering from emotional eating and can’t stop?
Grazing on carbohydrates and can’t control it?
Lacking inspiration to lose the weight you have regained?
Feel you don’t know what to do now that you have had surgery?
Dying to be in better shape with warm weather coming?

 Then you are in luck! My Back on Track Internet Mentoring Program is just what you need!

For More Information and to Join

Yummy Zucchini Beef Skillet

Yummy Zucchini Beef Skillet

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 (16 oz.) can chopped tomatoes
½ cup chopped dill pickles
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ tsp. salt
Dash pepper
¾ lb. zucchini, sliced

In a large skillet brown beef and onions over medium heat. Stir frequently.  Drain fat. Add tomatoes, dill pickles, garlic, salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.

Mix in zucchini, cover and cook 15 minutes or longer until squash is tender.

Makes 6 servings
Each serving: 238 calories, 7 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 17 grams fat.

If you have a recipe that you would like to share in future issues of this newsletter, please send it to me at

Success Story:
    Sharon Friesen

I want to offer a special thanks to Sharon. I find her attitude and spirit so inspiring.
Here is her story:

Dear Barbara,
I think I was born overweight. I don’t remember ever not being fat. I am 5’10” so I don’t think anyone would have really thought I was over 400 pounds.  I started researching weight loss surgery in June 2004 but family “stuff” prevented me from seriously finding out about it. My neurologist was not for it when they were more generally doing open surgeries, because he feared it would make my then demylinization disease flare up.  I have actually since been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, thanks to being able to fit in MRI machines now.

Finally in August of 2006, I finally found some time to take care of my own needs.  By that time, I had high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high triglycerides besides my MS.  I was downing 13 pills every morning and about 8 more at night.  I made an appointment with a bariatric surgeon.  He made me feel so welcome and calm that I knew this was the surgeon for me.  I decided to have gastric bypass surgery.  I did my health check, psych evaluation, and ultrasound. Everything was fine and my neurologist was on board because it was going to be laparoscopic.

Insurance gladly approved the surgery and 6 weeks after my first inquiry, I was on my way to the operating room.  I weighed 386 pounds that morning.  The surgery went well and I was on my way to a new life.  I had no pain to speak of.  I describe the feeling I had as someone kicked me in the gut, just a bit tender but not what I would call pain.

My weight loss was kind of slow for me compared with some others in my support group, but I know everyone is an individual.  My surgeon was pleased with my progress.  But I got to a point where I was just starving all the time.  My surgeon determined that the opening to my small intestine was too large and so the food was kind of just falling through and that is why I would get hungry.  I could eat a lot more than what I wanted because I never felt the restriction.  Still, I lost about 135 pounds so was able to add exercise to my daily life and felt great.  My blood sugar went back to normal, my blood pressure was normal and cholesterol great.  But, I desperately wanted that restriction so I wouldn’t have to rely on my willpower, which we all know, is tough to do and didn’t work for the first 43 years of my life.

So, in August 2007, we decided to add the lap band so I could have the restriction.  Again, the surgery was no big deal for me and I was thrilled to start getting fills after a month.  Once I got to the place where I had the restriction, I described what I was feeling to my girlfriend who also had gastric bypass surgery and she told me that was what she had felt since the beginning.  Eureka!  I had my tool working fully.  I was exercising 6 to 7 days a week and feeling great!

Then my MS took a turn that I wasn’t expecting a couple weeks after the lap band surgery.  I have been numb from the neck down and am now so weak I am barely able to walk even with a walker.  I mention this not for pity in any way but only to share how thrilled I am to now have 175 pounds less to be trying to get around.  I believe everything happens for a reason and in its season.  So while I am unable to exercise at the moment, I still feel so much better than I did.  I am blessed to have a wonderful supportive family and a medical team that is outstanding.  I would have the weight los surgery again in a heartbeat.  It has changed my life.


Sharon Friesen
San Jose, CA

I love good news.  If you have good news, a success story to share, or inspiration, please send it to me at so that I can include it in future issues.
:Day of surgery October 11, 2006.jpeg


Congratulations Sharon

Attention Nurse Educators

Preparing for COE Status?

Would You Like to Have

Obesity Sensitivity Training for

Your Hospital Staff?

(Guess What - It May Be Free)

Speaking for Hospitals

If you are a bariatric coordinator or nurse educator and need obesity sensitivity training for your hospital staff, contact me at 877-440-1518 or  Obesity sensitivity training is a Center of Excellence requirement. I have sponsorship that your hospital may qualify for.


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