In their own words - the WLS experience

The participants:

Trish: JIB (intestinal bypass) late 1978, takedown 1989 - still has repercussions

B.L.: JIB, 1973 take down in 1986 - today is fat and healthy

Leslie DeSoto: JIB 1970's, takedown 2001 - died in 2006 of malnutrition (could not get small bowel to start working)

Patricia Hargis: VBG (stomach stapling only) 1984 (can not be reversed because stomach is obliterated with adhesions). 2006: removed silastic band.  2007-esophagal hernia repair

Dani: RNY gastric bypass-Oct 2000 - takedown after 18 months

L.B., RN: RNY gastric bypass in 1998 - regained all her weight - has many repercussions including anemia, FMS/ chronic fatigue.  Had to retire from nursing.

J.N. of WA: RNY gastric bypass approx 4 years ago - has many repercussions including no energy which keeps her in bed many days.


These people tell their experience in their own words - sometimes you will laugh at their humor, sometimes you will have tears in your eyes.  But they all share a love of life, a stamina to make it and an ability to use humor to make things easier to bear.

"WLS is the only diet you cannot walk away from!"  Trish Hargis, VBG, 1984


She would do it again!:

I must laugh...The last time I went to see THEEEE WLS man here.....(Feb. 99)....He even asked me if I could get on the table that day would I??????? And of course I said YESSSSSS......OLOLOLOLO...After this highly electric appointment with him...I went into his waiting room and met a gal that lived the next town over from me.....she had hemorrhaged several times..(was still chunky and looked 20+ years older than her chronological years)..(because of the WLS) and if she hemorrhaged again, it was more than likely she would die.....She told me HERSELF, she worshipped the surgeon and would do it ALL over she was making appointments for fibromyalgia, osteoarthristis treatments, Lupus, osteoporosis, and some other specialty clinics I had never heard of......

I remember about her eyes....They looked funny, differently funny, alien like, old, tired, gelatinous looking.....Does anyone know what I mean????????? I can't put a sentence on it......The color was in no way pretty....Does that make sense...Not a judgment just and observation.....I'm digging myself in here....

and so WHAT makes a gal, a younger gal, a mom, a wife......put her life on the line so cheaply for so little gain...????????? What is the answer to that??????????...

All I could see her doing was being in the Lansing General Motors building, standing on the line (journeymen)( 75,000.00+ a year) with the VERY best medical benefits) hemorrhaging and dying soon after that day.........and her willing to do it ALL over again.......Trish (JIB intestinal bypass in 1978, taken down in 1989)

What Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) has done for me:

It's another bad day emotionally but I do have one good thing to say about my WLS. It sure made me aware who were my real friends, how strong I was to hold down a teaching job, how tough I used to be physically because I survived (barely with one) bearing two wonderful children, how pliable I am having to be finding a new career after losing the profession I struggled so hard to earn, how good I am at finagling money so that I now only owe a few thousand dollars after the $200,000 I have been billed in these last seven years alone, how good I am at getting ramps built and struggling with braces and wheelchairs and orthopedic surgeries, and how good my attendance was during all the physical therapy, which I did while holding down at least one full time job, because I could not qualify for disability. My toughness is gone, my physical abilities are gone, my career is gone, my mobility is hampered. All of these things and more I owe to WLS. Leslie (JIB - takedown in 2001 - died 6 years later of malnutrition)

My labs are in the toilet. According to the doctor who originally hospitalized me, I should be dead. I'm not, but my body has used up everything it had. Some of my levels were so low that they ran them over and over because nothing was registering or it was so low that they didn't believe their own equipment. The pathologist thought at first that I had cholera or some other disease. (J.N. of WA - gastric bypass - 4 years)

19 years and no severance pay ..........VBG 1984 ...........Here I am; 19 years out this month of being VBG post-op. I stayed thin (and unhealthy) for 9 years and then I have come up since then gaining weight until I weigh the same at the time of my WLS. I still can only eat about 3 oz. And, when my eroded band closes up on me I have to get scoped and get my undigested rotten food pushed thru the pouch into my regular stomach after My doc dilates my vertical band. 19 years out and no severance pay. A tool to work with that is just plum wore out after all these years........No insurance now so I live in fear that the VBG will completely turn on me and I will have to file bankruptcy over it because of no insurance. And with the failure rate of VBG why are they even still doing it?

I know why...... $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

hugs Patricia (VBG takedown in 2006 - revision in 2007)


What? You mean I haven't told my story? oLOLOLOLOLOL ...

Well here's a condensed version....Heard about WLS, was excited about WLS,  had WLS, nearly died, wanted to die, lost 60-70# because of WLS....Had  diarrhea, 20+ bms a day, gas like barn yard animal smell, vitamin mineral  depletions, lost half my hair, soft nails, pasty white skin, yellowed whites  of my eyes, acne pustules, pimples all over my face, complete loss of energy  at different times, stomach distention, psuedo bowel obstructions, hernias,  adhesions, hemorrhoids,  nausea for 10 years straight (and many other things I  want to forget).....lost down to a size 6 five years later with depression,  gained back up to 240# a year later (started out at 297#).......Was getting  divorced and knew my good BCBS would be cancelled .. So got JIB reversed and  here I am.......None the thinner or healthier for doing all  that......Trish

WLS punishes us for eating. it has robbed me of alot of things mostly my health , which was supposed to make my life more healthy........Patricia (VBG 1984)

The first WLS was listed as safe and healthy, the second type as well, and the third, and so forth. They all are 'suppose' to be safe and healthy but anytime the body is altered there will be problems. I had the new and improved one and it was a disaster. I don't call only being able to eat 300 calories a day safe and healthy. I call the WLS a license to starve yourself to death. WLS is still a diet, it prohibits one from eating normally and remember, the first three letters of diet, DIE, and that is what could and does happen with WLS. (Dani Hart, RNY Oct 2000 - takedown after 18 months)

I have listened to the new and improved [WLS] ........but have yet to opt for it......I just can't imagine me being worse gut wise, physically wise than I am this my hernias push against my gut, and several pains shoot across under the scar from the WLS and the takedown of the WLS.....Trish
[p.s. as I run for the bathroom with diarrhea again.......

I watch those commercials and I wonder how they get away with saying those things?  It should be stopped.  The only thing permanent about WLS are the side effects.  Please be aware of that! (LB, RN - gastric bypass in 1998)

Darlings, I am not fine. A good number of us on the list, silent and vocal have permanent neurological damage because of insufficient protein, vitamins and supplements DESPITE being compliant. DESPITE protein first and the 1,000 to 1,200 calorie a day diet. DESPITE the daily Centrum vitamin (my surgeon). EVERY gastric bypass patient is different. (J.N. of WA, RNY approx 4 years ago)

On dehydration:

Mine was caused by all the vomiting and diahrrea leading to becoming severely dehydrated. I almost died. You could see all the bones in my face and my eyes sunk back in their sockets like a skeleton. I was rushed to the hospital and they inserted TWO IV's as my doctor was called out of church to come to the ER. He told me later when I was stable that he thought he would be going to my funeral. Stupid me thought how great it was he would come to my funeral. I wanted to please him and not be a failure. How stupid is that? It really is not worth all this pain and suffering to be thin. (B.L. - JIB- takedown)

On Vomiting

I have plenty of memories of sitting on commode with a wastebasket to vomit in. One day about 2 years ago we went to steak house and the steak did not want to be in my pouch. I went to the Bathroom waiting for all the patrons to leave so I could vomit. Always someone coming in. So decided to go outside to the back of building ;people there too; getting out of cars or leaving the restaurant; So I went to the car and got a grocery bag and hid down as far as I could and vomited. Then it was easy to vomit, and few coughs and it came up. now with my band stretched out, it is hard. I have to wait for stuff to come up from regular stomach up thru the pouch. If life's a bowl of cherries why do I get stuck with all the (VBG - 1984)

Vomiting is absolutely the worst. I carried my 'barf bowl' everywhere I went.  The worse time was when my husband and I tried to go out to dinner for a special occasion. I had some mashed potatoes and without warning, vomited right onto my husbands plate. The waitress saw this happen and just about hurled herself. Needless to say, we left right away. The evening was spoiled and I didn't try that one again. Since the reversal I can now go out without the 'barf bowl'. I destroyed the bowl in a ceremony that included getting my life back.   Dani Hart (RNY gastric bypass - takedown in 2001)

On Weight Re-gain

When I had my VBG in 1984 strong pain meds were given for one day. Then it was liquid tylenol and one had to get up and down all the time to work the gas off. Gas is painful and then we just had to take our traveling IVs and walk. He did not believe in demoral or morphine but just after surgery. He said it was too easy to get addicted to. I had to go back to work a month later. I was Asst. manager at K-Mart. and the hard work hurt me but think I recovered better because of it. I stayed about 160lbs for 9 years and then went to 200 and stayed there. Still only eating 2oz..............Patricia

I regained all the weight back:
240 lb before the surgery
128 lb 14 months after the surgery
150 lb 2 years after the surgery
170 lb 4 years after the surgery
205 lb 5 years after the surgery
224 lb 7 years after the surgery
235 lb 9 years after the surgery.

(L.B., RN, of LA - gastric bypass in 1998)

My friend Steve had the Roux n y....Three years ago....He has started to gain back weight (actually after two years) he is getting the joint and muscle stuff and the doctor thinks he has Lupus.............His grandparents are alive (both sets).....80s.......His mother had a WLS, some sort of stomach stapling...It was in place 3 years and she never quit puking.....She died the third year at 53.  No one in his family has anything except the predisposition to be fat...His brother's sisters all in good health and older than him....Most of them over 40..... Trish

On Carnie

Carnie Wilson is at it again, geez I wished she would just stay out of the  news so more people aren't thinking the WLS is this wonderful cure-all. She  will be on 'Entertainment Tonight' tomorrow, talking about how much skin she had removed and her boobs lifted. She will also have an article in People Magazine. You can be sure she won't be showing both sides of the surgery, but how wonderful she is doing, feels great, looks great, can do  anything she wants, and blah blah blah. Sorry about not being so positive with  her but she just really rubs me the wrong way. Before I had the reversal I  wished she would just come live with me, or any of us, and watch me carry around a throw-up bowl all day long, every day, since I couldn't get to the sink or bathroom to vomit. Better yet, she could volunteer to take care of any of us while the nausea is overwhelming or sit in one of the bathrooms and hold  the hands of those that live there more than any other room in the house. (Dani RNY - takedown after 18 months)

Is WLS a walk in the park like the ads say?

the walk in the park,,,,would it be the walk with the IV stuck in you, along with the catheter, stuck up you, the drain tubes draining and hanging out of you? While holding the output cup full of pee and poop as we
hold a pillow tightly against our abdomen, tears streaming down our faces as we try to cough up phlegm???? While all the time begging for our Demerol, morphine shots?????
The above is the WALK in the park I remember........If there was a nice stroll or walk that went along with my hospital stay,,,,I want my money back because I was in the wrong hospital or heading for the wrong park. Trish

On Doctors take on long term patients:

Once a WLS guy, when I asked about death rate...said. "yes, they died....(older women late 50s)...but the damage was already done before they came to me".....So why if he knew they were "damaged", did he do surgery??????????? Trish

I can't be mad at my doctor

I cant be mad at my original WLS Surgeon. He was so excited about the VBG and he had studied at Johns Hopkins and he spent a lot of time with me before my surgery. and I stayed in hospital 3 days getting tests etc. He sounded so distraught (I got it done in GA); I am from Indiana) and he is in his 80s now, down with heart problems. I know in my heart he is a good man. If I had WLS in the last 5 years though, I would be mad as hell! Because they do know what it does to people long term. I was in the pioneering days of WLS. And in the 600 first people group that had it. Yes, I would be angry and an attorney would be in the picture. I feel sorry for the Old Doc who did my VBG .. He sounded so sad and I'm sure he knows what his outcomes have produced all these years......Patricia (VBG 1984)

On the selling of the surgery

I was sold on the WLS by my doctor and others that claimed it was the best thing since chocolate, like right! I thought I had all the info I needed from my doctor and a list of people he provided to talk to. Wow, was I ever deceived. One lady I talked to before the WLS told me how wonderful it was but after the surgery she admitted lying to me since she was afraid I would back out of it. She also said she was happy with her WLS but that she had some major problems but would rather die thin than fat. I spoke with her many times, asking for help, but she said if I ever said anything negative about the WLS she would come over and slap me. So much for support!

 I had the take down to save my life. I thought I was saving my life by having the surgery but the opposite was happening, I was slowly dying. The problems from malnutrition can and do cause permanent damage. When I stopped losing weight, my body started taking nutrients from my organs, like everyone else in malnutrition. After having the reversal the surgeon stated I would never have gotten better the way I was and I would continue to have a deteriorating health.  My pcp gave me one to five years to live with the WLS. I wanted it done when I still had strength to get through the reversal. My reversal was so much easier than the original surgery. I was in 10 days until my bowels started working and no nose tube. I did have a gastric feeding tube in my stomach for 6 weeks as a precaution since I had problems before the reversal keeping food in. I never had to be fed through it since once I could eat pureed food my strength returned very fast and no vomiting or nausea. I researched the reversal a great deal before hand and felt I had no other choice in order to live, which was true. Now I am living!!!! (Dani- Gastric bypass RNY Oct 2000 - takedown after 18 months)


WLS has become the new big "beauty" surgery.  I heard on Oprah last week that it's tripled in popularity and is frequently a graduation present people are giving their kids, along with breast implants.  I nearly fainted!
I understand that some people are choosing to have the surgery as an elective to KEEP from becoming fat?  Is that what our society has become?  A radical risky life threatening surgery to PREVENT getting fat?  That's insane!  And, I've heard there are people who are less than 100 lb overweight opting for this "permanent" solution.
I had WLS (RNY) in September 1998.
WLS is being advertised shamelessly on television today as the "Permanent Weight Loss"' solution, and one commercial for lap band even says that it will "control your hunger" forever.
That's just such a lie  (L.B. RN of LA)

I kept comps to myself as I did NOT want being criticized for "getting what I asked for"...After all, if I had not climbed up on the table and "asked for it", I would have never had comps.......It's just like the old folks always say "you made your bed, now sleep in it!"...Sympathy fell short for me when, in the end, I did talk about the severe comps........No one cared that I was never schooled in the severe complications...One of the comps I WAS told about was that I would have "loose stools"......Doctors forgot to tell me my stools would be loose about 20 times a day........

With WLS, as in rape, assault, most people always ask what part WE had in it(the victim).....Did we egg it on, did we swing first, did we "help" get into the predicament?...Some how most people don't believe we didn't know what we were getting into and in a lot of cases, ASKED FOR what happened to us........

Most people, when I have explained just some of my side effects from WLS shake their heads and say "just can't be"....Why would the medical, insurance community ALLOW horrific, barbaric WLS with side effects like what I and MANY have had....including death? And with the failure, comp rate, why would it be ALLOWED to be done thousands of surgeries after thousands of surgeries? As I explain to them, I shake my head and don't know either.........I do sound quite unbelievable to "unschooled" non WLS people.......

If someone were to tell me NOW(and I didn't have experience with WLS) about the side effects, deaths, illnesses that WLS causes, I wouldn't believe them either.....I would think they were mental, high on drugs or just macabre........Trish


On taking pills after a take down:

I remember making light of some of my older relatives years ago about their hand full of pills they took....WELLLLL...guess who takes handfuls of pills now.....And every time I go to the regular doc, I get ANOTHER pill to take....Claritin was the last one week before last....Actos last month...and of course with my H pylori treatment, I get 8 more pills(YES eight)..a about trying to puke something down....

One thing I am happy over is that when I take my pills.....They are actually absorbed and used by my body....They are not laying in the bottom of the toilet looking just the way they went in......whole...I would be in sooooo much trouble....Trish

on emergency room care for someone with a stomach illness:

these types of tests are disgusting...and it does seem instead of shaming us (we have been taught since we could walk NOT to poop or pee our clothes, some of us got spanked, slapped for it, shamed) that they would make IT EASIER on us and THEM......but still who wants to see it or smell it..... Just last month, I spent a night in emergency ..I had to ask for a puke pan...(that would be the first thing I would pass out to stomach pain people)...and I used it...The medical people heard me in this room that was curtained off....I wretched and wretched....had to get up, empty it, messed up their toilet, and washed it out and staggered back to the little tiny exam table they had me on with many many larger gurneys right outside the room).....NO one ever came in to see if I had suffocated or dropped on the floor.... About 25 minutes later a nurse came in and was writing on my chart and she said "and you have thrown up, right?" ......I wondered how she figured that out.....I knew she knew I wasn't bulimic because I sure in +ell wasn't a small gal, so .............I had to be nauseous....... Lordy lordy lordy...... Trish

No one told us...

I am so angry for all of us...No one told us WHAT COULD happen...and if it was told, it was told in a most nonchalant "well uh uh.....yeh, she died, they died, but they were damaged before they had the surgery"...It was told to me LIKE IT WAS NO BIG deal...any of the side effects...No big deal......and yes it was a big still is....I look in a mirror and there is the long scar across, (side to side) horizontally just above the belly button....and from 6 inches above and below the navel....It is totally dead...No feeling, numb.....One for the WLS JIB and one for the JIB takedown.....No wonder I have hernias, adhesions and who knows what else!...Trish

kidney stones and diarrhea

I remember my WLS surgeon saying that his surgery was blamed for a lot of  illness, diseased (auto-immune, lupus, kidney stones, etc.etc....)...He  refused to take any blame....or see that 8-10 of his patients were having kidney stones (ME).(he said I might have kidney stones but he didn't say they would put me on all fours, throwing my guts up, begging for mercy and many many days in the hospital either passing the stones or getting ready for surgery to remove them)...hamburger face, or blood would drip into the toilet  from having such severe and frequent bowel movements.....He forgot to tell me that.... Not that I want to harp on any of these things (why not?).....but I wasn't  told that my chances were great 80-90 percent that I would sooner or later have these.....The kidney stones were a year later. The diarrhea was ALWAYS.........and all the rest of the things I speak of......Trish

No immunity and no stamina

My immunity is gone.  My resistance to colds and flu has completely disappeared.  I catch everything.  I'm always sick. (4 yr)   I was rarely sick before.  Did I say I have no stamina? I'm a nurse.  I use to be able to get up at 5 am, go to work, and do a double 12 hour shift.  Not long after WLS I found that I couldn't survive one 8 hour shift  (4 yr) and I recently had to stop working altogether (9 yr).  I'm completely exhausted at the end of every day.  Going out for an evening with my husband is a challenge.  (L.B., RN, of LA - gastric bypass 1998)


I miss those people

I truly miss several of the people that have passed...I miss them with a
passion.....No matter their weight...I miss their faces, their conversations
with me......and just us looking at one another, knowing we didn't have to
speak about the trials and terrors of being larger, having WLS......It was
Gawd, I really miss them.... Trish

Still waiting...

 we are the "sage" women of WLS..We lived to tell the tale..(facts)..and what tales we have to tell.....And most of what we lived is denied by other people...because they, like us, wanted that WLS to FIX our lives...To make us one of the desirables....the loveables...The Golden lifers....

Any way....that's what was told to me that I would have if I only had the WLS.......Life would be wonderful........I'm still waiting...Trish

We are the people that lived through didn't come from a book or a program or a retreat......People that look for WLS to make their lives "golden", magazine like.....I've known a lot of WLS people and NO one I know has a golden life....It's perty much like it was before WLS with a lot of doctor visits added, surgeries, illnesses....and sometimes death.....Trish


return to WLS Info Center