Volume One / Number Nine

Paula Rosenberg

Lap Band Surgery Was the Best Thing I Ever Did for Myself

I have been overweight ever since I can remember. During my teens and early 20s, I was on so many different diets and they all had the same results -- I’d lose 20 pounds, plateau, give up and gain back what I lost plus an additional 10 or 20 pounds. I really thought I was just meant to be the fat girl.

Three years ago, I was encouraged by my doctor and several friends and relatives to look into weight loss surgery. I met with a surgeon and a nutritionist for an initial consultation. It was awful. I felt like the surgeon was treating me like a 5-year-old who didn’t know how to keep her hand out of the cookie jar. I asked him about lap band and told him I was interested in learning more. He dismissed my questions and said the only thing that would work for me would be traditional gastric bypass. That meeting reinforced my decision to avoid surgery. Instead, I decided to make some major life changes and lose the weight myself. I lost 60 pounds, but once again found myself back in familiar territory: I wasn’t able to lose any more weight.

I plateaued for more than a year and then gained back about 20 pounds after a workout injury put me out of commission for a few months. As the numbers on the scale crept back up, I couldn’t bear to think that I might be back at my starting weight again -- or, worse yet, even heavier. I knew I needed to give surgery another chance. I had tried everything else.

So I went to an information session at NYU’s medical center. It was a complete 180 compared to the experience I’d had with the surgeon. The doctors and staff were caring and had wonderful bedside manners. They were willing to answer any questions I had. They not only informed me about lap band surgery, but recommended that it would be a good option for me.

I liked the sound of the procedure for a number of reasons. The surgery would be done laparoscopically and I would be able to go home the same day. The recovery time would be quick -- I only had to take three days off work. Most importantly, the surgery was described as a tool, not a solution. I would be responsible for making good eating choices and exercising on a regular basis.

The changes to my life seem so minor. I have to cut up my food into small pieces, chew it well and wait 30 seconds in between bites. There are certain things I can’t eat like steak and chicken breasts because they’re too tough and untoasted bread because it’s too doughy. Small sacrifices to make.

Two weeks before surgery, I weighed 295 pounds and was wearing a size 26. Now, less than eight months later, I weigh 212 pounds and recently fit into some size 14 pants. Getting the lap band was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I did it because I wanted to be healthier. I’m certain that I have added years onto my life. Even though I have just embarked on this journey, I know it was the right decision for me.