On the 10th of February, I had a gastric sleeve, which is a surgery that removes 75-80% of your stomach and essentially turns your stomach into a tube (or “sleeve”). The belief is that this promotes weight loss through not only restricting the amount of food you eat, but also changing the way your body handles hunger. The thinking is that because your stomach produces ghrelin, a hormone that makes you hungry, that the reduction in the hormone helps your appetite. In addition, the thinking was that you felt full when your stomach was full, but evidence is showing that you get the sense of being full by nutrients being absorbed in your small intestine. Because the surgery promotes food leaving your stomach very rapidly, you are more likely to feel full earlier than before surgery. There maybe other factors which are not well understood. Clinically, the gastric sleeve has a high rate of success, almost as good as a gastric bypass, but it is generally considered there are less side affects with the gastric sleeve. The only main “disadvantage” of the sleeve is that it has only been a primary procedure for weight loss for about 5 years, so there is very little data about the long term effects of the surgery.
For me, weight had always been a challenge. In October 2006 I checked into Structure House, a residential weight loss clinic, for 4 weeks. When I checked in, I topped out the scales at 318 pounds (22st 10lbs/144kg). I had sleep apnea and was essentially diabetic. I was in shock. Over the following year, I lost 95lbs in total, just through diet and exercise. When I reached that point, I lighter than I had been since I was 16, and I wasn’t even at my full height at that point. I was happy. I kept around that weight for about 6 months and then it started to slowly creep up, and up, and up, and up.
By the time I reached October 2010, I was back up around 295 pounds. I was so angry at myself, but my partner and I discussed our options. I needed help. I knew if I checked out of life again, went back to North Carolina, I could do it all over again. Problem is, did I spend my life going again and again to a weight loss clinic, risk my career and let’s be honest, my relationship with my partner? No, I needed to do something more dramatic. At the end of the day, I just wanted a level playing field. For whatever reason, I had a “fat brain” that wasn’t going to let me get stay at a normal weight. That is when I investigated weight loss surgery. Originally I considered the gastric band, but after research and discussions with my doctors and nurses, I decided the sleeve was for me.
Some people might wonder what weight loss looks like for a gastric sleeve. Well, I ended up in the “habit” of weighing myself daily while I was at Structure House. They believe that weighing yourself once a day, at the same time, helps you desensitise yourself to the changes. It had worked for me for years, and so I started to keep my log. A couple things to note. Firstly, I am a male. That means it is easier for me to shed fat than women. Second, I had previously known that I could lose weight at a rapid rate. Lots of people’s bodies are different. Third, I was eating a silly amount of calories, and the pre-op diet demonstrates what just a calorie controlled diet can do for you. Forth, I had the benefit of all the mental consoling at Structure House. Weight loss surgery is not for everyone for various reasons. If you are not “prepared” for the weight loss, you can cause all sorts of issues with yourself and the people around you if you aren’t ready or have significant mental issues that are unresolved. Anyways, this is what 4 months of weight loss looks like on the sleeve:
As you can see, I have had a great amount of success. I am very close to 100lbs away from my heaviest ever. I am the lowest weight I have been my adult life, and there isn’t a sign that I am slowing down quite yet. I expect that I will get to around 195-200 lbs (14st/89kg) and then my life will shift into maintaining my weight (and working on my muscle mass).
I have lost 12 inches in my waist from my biggest ever, 2 inches in my neck and a shoe size. While all that is impressive, the thing that matters most to me is that I easily have added years of quality life to my future. While that might be a bit selfish, at the end of the day, it is hopefully years I can spend with my partner and eventually our children. What is that worth to you?