Angie Hill, 44, lives in Margate with her partner Elaine and their daughter Emily and two foster children. After trying many diets, she decided to have gastric wrap keyhole surgery in Prague, where costs are cheaper than in the UK. The procedure folds and then stitches the stomach to make a tube, restricting the amount of food that can be eaten. Height: 5ft 7in. Total weight loss: 5st 4lb.
January 2013 17st 6lb, size 22-24
I first heard about this surgery in May 2012, when I attended a meeting at Secret Surgery, which arranges procedures overseas. My partner Elaine had a gastric bypass then went to Poland for a tummy tuck in 2010. A gastric wrap is less extreme than a bypass, gives good weight loss and there’s a lower risk of vomiting than with a gastric band.
The only question was how quickly I could save the money for the operation – it cost £4,640 for the surgery, flights and accommodation, plus £350 for Elaine to go with me. My operation is booked for 15 January in Prague and I began my pre-op liquid diet of light yoghurts and soups on New Year’s Day.
My weight dramatically increased when I came out as gay, aged 14. Since then, I’ve yo-yoed. I’m a comfort eater, plus my portion sizes are too big, I snack and I have a habit of eating in the evening. I’ve tried every diet going and asked my GP for support but nothing has worked. My blood pressure is high, I get breathless easily and my joints ache. I also find I get emotional and upset about my weight and I hate wearing frumpy clothes.
April 2013 13st 4lb, size 16-18
I’ve lost 4st 2lb and I’m looking forward to getting even smaller. The surgery was straightforward. I spent two nights in hospital and three in an apartment in Prague. I was on liquid food for two weeks, followed by two weeks of purées, two weeks of mashed food, then soft foods such as porridge and eggs. Now I’m on normal food, but much smaller portions as my stomach is the size of a banana. I’ll have muesli or porridge for breakfast, soup or cheese and crackers for lunch, then dinner on a tea plate – such as haddock with a creamy sauce and vegetables. If I eat even a teaspoon too much I feel sick. I feel so much more alive now – I can actually play with the kids when I take them to the park. My knee doesn’t lock if I kneel. I’ve just been on an all-inclusive holiday and didn’t put on the half stone I usually would.
July 2013 12st 8lb, size 14-16
I only lost 3lb in May and 3lb in June so I’ve had to look at what I’m eating. I need to cut down on carbs and choose chicken and salad instead of a roast dinner. I do get very tired sometimes and I’ve had some hair loss, both of which are problems with gastric surgery. The follow-up to my surgery has been great. I log on to the Secret Surgery forum and I attend a monthly support meeting in Rochester, an hour’s drive away. I can also see my GP if I have any concerns, but I haven’t had to do that. My daughter Emily takes a photo of me every month, so I can see how much my body has changed. She used to call my bum my ‘bookshelf’. It’s gone now.
‘Without the operation, I don’t know what size I would have been by now’
October 2013 12st 5lb, size 14-16
I’m closer to a size 14 now because I’ve lost several inches. Elaine and I joined the gym two weeks ago. My operation has brought us closer as she has helped me learn how to eat post-surgery and we both feel better about ourselves. I used to be an apple but now I’m a pear, and it’s a thrill to be able to wear fitted clothes instead of my old baggy T-shirts and trousers.
December 2013 12st 2lb, size 14
I can walk into the gym with my head held high but there are some bits of my body that exercise can’t touch. My skin was stretched when I was bigger and it hasn’t snapped back so I’m having a tummy tuck in Poland next month, then saving for a breast reduction and to have some skin removed from my upper arms. Another problem is that surgery doesn’t remove the ‘head hunger’ that makes me want to eat when I’m not hungry. But without the operation, I don’t know what size I would have been by now.
I’m really positive about the experience. It was scary going abroad for surgery but I researched the hospital and the doctor, and I chose the procedure I felt would suit me best. I look at the portions being served in restaurants and I think, ‘How could anyone eat all that food?’ But I used to. I’m so glad that’s not my life any more.
There are a few different kinds of gastric surgery, which can make matters confusing when you’re considering what gastric surgery actually is. The gastric wrap is slowly becoming one of the most popular kinds of surgery, and today we’re going to tell you – with all the gory details – what exactly a gastric wrap is!
A gastric wrap involves the surgeon making small, keyhole incisions in the stomach. The stomach is then folded in on itself, to create a narrower, tube-shaped pouch. In other words, your stomach will be smaller, so you’ll be able to eat less food, but otherwise your digestion works normally.
This means that the gastric wrap doesn’t restrict the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food, as the gastric bypass does. This is one key reason why the gastric band is gaining popularity; you don’t have to compromise on your nutrition to lose weight with the wrap.
Gastric wraps can lead to very quick weight loss, and most patients are very happy with their operation. Of course, it’s something we only recommend to people who have already tried to lose weight through diet and exercise – but for some of us, that just doesn’t seem to do the job.
How did you get introduced to Secret Surgery? I first met Angela at her gastric & plastic support group when I went with my partner Elaine who was completing her journey by having a tummy tuck, we discussed gastric wrap that week & I thought to myself – I want and desperately need that! A friend was travelling out to Prague so I eagerly followed her journey & wonderful weight loss so I set to hard saving. In October 2012 I managed to book my surgery for 15th January 2013 – a new start for a new year! I couldn’t wait for Christmas to be over so I could start my pre-op diet on 1st January.
What happened nearer the time of your surgery? 1st January arrived & I started on my diet of soup & yoghurt which I found surprisingly easy but I did suffer with ketosis, mainly smelly breath. Finally we’re on our way on 14th January but it decided to snow at Gatwick but there was no hiccups and we arrived in Prague at lunch-time.
How was your arrival? We were met by Paul who took us to the clinic, he has limited English. When we got to the clinic we were met by Tina who checked us into our apartment which was very comfortable, she answered any questions and showed us where our surgery buddies were. Once we were all unpacked we headed into town on a tram and the underground, we found Tesco which was great as our companions got their provisions, this was lucky as we found out the restaurant on site shut at the weekend. I had most of my pre-op checks (BP, Temp, urine, ECG, weight, peak flow, MRSA check, bloods).
How did the surgery itself go? On the morning of surgery I was up early in the shower eager to meet Tina at 7am, we went through paperwork & signed consent form, had a group consultation with Prof Fried as there was four of us having surgery that day and one the day after, seen by general Dr, psychologist, and then had ultrasound scan and also had gastroscopy, this wasn’t a nice procedure but is necessary & doesn’t take long. I was then taken to my room which you share & there is an en-suite bathroom between 2 rooms. I was given a gown & sexy white stockings, given pre med medications & within minutes pushed into theatre, Elaine was told I would be back in 4 hours. All the theatre staff were extremely friendly with ok english, I was set up in theatre & the next thing I knew I was chatting to a lovely male nurse in recovery, I always chat in recovery. I was back in my room in 2 hours!
Great! And what about post-op? My recovery went really smoothly, in the evening i was allowed to suck on a ice cube which was great, the following day I was allowed fruit tea & broth. The following morning I was given tiny balls from 2 capsules but I really struggled to swallow these as took too much water & was promptly sick, I spoke to the Dr’s & Prof Fried & he said I could take them whole but to take them slowly. The nursing staff were really nice but some of their English was difficult but they understand sign language. Later on this day I was discharged to our apartment which was lovely. I slept loads in the apartment, it was so cosy. The clinic was very clean & 4* standard.
That’s excellent. Would you recommend your experience? My overall experience was very good & would recommend this weight loss procedure to anyone struggling, I’ve lost 2st 13lb since 1st January & feel so so much better. I’m on my journey to a healthier, happy life.
Gastric surgery is without a doubt one of the most popular surgeries we perform. The greatest risks of the gastric surgery come from not following the diet properly. If you eat too much or eat food that you shouldn’t, you could have complications. Here’s a countdown of the six things that could happen to you if you don’t follow the rules!
- Dumping syndrome. This complication occurs most often after eating foods high in sugar or fat. These foods travel quickly through your stomach pouch and “dump” into your intestine. Dumping syndrome can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sweating and eventually diarrhea.
- Dehydration. Because you’re not supposed to drink fluids with your meals, some people become dehydrated. You can prevent dehydration by sipping 48 to 64 ounces (1.4 to 1.9 liters) of water or other low-calorie beverages throughout the day.
- Nausea and vomiting. If you eat too much, eat too fast or don’t chew your food adequately, you may become nauseated or vomit after meals.
- Constipation. If you don’t follow a regular schedule for eating your meals, don’t eat enough fiber or don’t exercise, you may become constipated.
- Blocked opening of your stomach pouch. It’s possible for food to become lodged at the opening of your stomach pouch, even if you carefully follow the diet. Signs and symptoms of a blocked stomach opening include ongoing nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Call your doctor if you have these symptoms for more than two days.
- Weight gain or failure to lose weight. If you continue to gain weight or fail to lose weight on the gastric diet, it’s possible you could be eating too many calories. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about changes you can make to your diet.
If you have had gastric surgery and you’re experiencing any of these problems, talk to your nurse or doctor straight away – the good news is that sorting out your diet should help to fix most of these problems!
Last week, we did a feature post about the gastric wrap, so most of you should know a little more about what it is and how it works, now. (If you missed it, read back! It’s an effective, reversible and relatively simple weight loss procedure.)
However, you might still not have decided whether gastric wrap surgery is really for you – so today, we’re going to help a couple of you fence-sitters to make up your minds. First, there are some people who are considered ‘high-risk’, which means that – if you fall into one of these groups – you’re more likely to want to explore other options first. You’re a high-risk patient if:
- You’re aged over 50.
- Your BMI is over 50.
- You’re man.
- You have high blood pressure, or hypertension.
- You’ve got a history of breathing problems, including asthma.
- You’ve got a history of hiatal hernia, GERD, stomach ulcers or a history of chronic diseases of the digestive tract.
- You’ve previously undergone an open major abdominal surgery in the upper abdomen.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have a gastric wrap, but it’s important to be aware of the risks you’re taking on when you opt for any surgery. These risks would be discussed in-depth during a consultation with us.
Of course, as a radical weight loss surgery, the gastric wrap is generally for people with high BMIs, and your doctor will consider your BMI when assessing your suitability for surgery. However, it’s a good idea to bear in mind:
- If you’re a yo-yo dieter and experience vast fluctuations in weight, be sure to tell your doc this. If it’s likely that your weight will ‘go up’ again in the future, you may still be considered even if your BMI isn’t currently that high.
- You may want to show your doctor or consultant some photographs of yourself to help him assess your suitability, because the way your weight is distributed around your body will affect the level of risk you are at.
- Depending on your racial origin, you could be more likely to develop co-morbidities associated with obesity. Those of Asian origin may want to consider a gastric wrap more strongly for this reason.
- If you have any co-morbidities, such as type 2 diabetes, you can be much more at risk than others.
Of course, you’ll want to talk about your decision much more before you take the plunge – but that’s why we’re always there, at the other end of the phone.
We get a lot of patients asking for consultations about gastric wrap surgery, and it’s an incredibly popular procedure. Since not many people seem to know much about it before they come to see us, we thought we’d explain the basics of gastric wrap surgery – also known as LGCP surgery – to our readers.
As the least complicated of all weight loss surgeries, and boasting excellent results for patients, it’s no surprise that gastric wraps are so popular. Gastric wraps pose few potential risks and long-term problems, making them one of the safest weight loss procedures on the market today.
Who is it for?
You might want to consider a gastric wrap if you:
- Are looking to lose a significant amount of weight rapidly and permanently.
- Have undergone a gastric band, which has failed.
- Feel more comfortable about this procedure than others which involve the cutting or removal of stomach tissue.
- Are looking for a surgery which requires no adjustment afterwards; significant weight loss should occur as soon as the surgery is completed. However, just like the gastric band, this surgery is reversible.
How does it work?
The gastric wrap works similarly to the gastric band or the sleeve gastrectomy; it enables weight loss purely through restriction, by limiting the amount of food which can be consumed. There is no effect on the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food, unlike with the gastric bypass.
A gastric wrap is performed using very small incisions – it’s considered ‘keyhole’ surgery. The stomach is folded in on itself and the two outer edges are sutured together to create a narrow tube-shaped stomach.
This means that, with a much lower stomach capacity, patients feel full after eating much smaller amounts of food. This can often trigger rapid weight loss within the first few months after surgery.
That’s the basics of gastric wraps covered – watch this space, though, because we’ll be filling you in on even more details about this popular procedure very soon. Is the gastric wrap for you? We’ll soon find out…
Angela Chouaib – founder and MD at Secret Surgery – is here today to share her weight loss surgery secrets. It’s easy to think that weight loss surgery is about sitting back and letting science do all the work, but that’s not true; after weight loss surgery, it’s important to remember that it’s up to you to develop the habits and behaviours that are going to last the rest of your life.
“Remember that your weight loss surgery isn’t going to do the work by itself. Think of your surgery as a tool, or a stepping stone, which is going to help you get to where you want to be. It isn’t a magical fix.” It might seem like a magical fix when you’re losing pounds and pounds every week at first, but as your weight drops, you’ll find it harder and harder to lose that extra weight, and this is when good diet and exercise will matter.
“It’s just not possible to eat whatever you want and lose weight. Weight loss surgery doesn’t alter your metabolism, so if you’re eating the same foods you were before your surgery, you aren’t making the most of it.” Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial; in the later stages of your weight loss, you’ll only find the pounds dropping off if you’re still eating well and staying active. Don’t let yourself down by falling into old habits.
“Ease yourself slowly into exercise after the surgery. Rest up for six weeks, and then start with light activities like walking and gentle swimming. Exercise will help you to stay toned while the pounds are dropping off.” Losing a lot of weight quickly can be quite a shock to your body, so it’s important to keep your muscles healthy by maintaining a good weekly fitness regime. It doesn’t have to be vigorous, and you shouldn’t start before you feel ready to – but it’s something to factor in after your recovery.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that it’s you who’s in control after weight loss surgery. If you stop losing weight, don’t assume that something ‘isn’t working’ – look at your diet, and think about how it can be improved. It’s not just what you eat, but how much; and you’re the only person who can affect this. Good luck!