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.
If you’re considering a gastric wrap like so many of our patients, you might be wondering what questions you should ask your doctor or consultant before confirming the procedure. Making sure that you’re the perfect candidate for the role is very important before undergoing serious surgery. Here’s what you need to bring up with your doctor:
- Take along some photos of yourself showing a few different angles so that your doctor can assess your suitability for surgery. The way your weight is distributed will affect your risk levels with a gastric wrap.
- Tell your doctor if you’ve had a history of yo-yo dieting.
- Discuss your racial origin with your doctor. Those of Asian origin may be more at risk when undergoing gastric wrap surgeries.
- Tell your doctor about any other serious illnesses you have, including type 2 diabetes. These can affect how likely your surgery is to go well.
If you discuss all of these things and have a BMI high enough to be considered for the surgery, you’re well on your way to a successful gastric wrap operation. Of course, it’s important to remember that there is always a risk when undergoing any kind of surgery.
If there are any ladies – or lads – out there thinking about undergoing a gastric wrap, then you’re in luck! One of our past patients, the mysterious Miss H, is here to tell us all about her experiences with a gastric wrap at Secret Surgery.
What made you think of cosmetic surgery? “After years of being overweight and trying and failing on every diet possible, I had begun to get really despondent and almost to the point of giving up. I had never considered surgery but things were getting desperate. I knew that a girl at my work had had the gastric wrap and have watched her slim down and grow in confidence. I had a chat with her and she recommended Secret Surgery and told me to give Angela a call.”
Wow! And how did that proceed? “After a couple of emails and calls from Secret Surgery I decided it was right for me, deposit was paid and all arrangements made. More importantly, I’d been matched up with a surgery buddy to accompany me to Prague. I also had Patricia from Secret Surgery as my contact and was encouraged to call her if i had any questions or worries. Unfortunately my surgery buddy had to postpone her surgery so I arrived in Prague feeling a little like a fish out of water!”
Oh no; and what about when you got to Poland? “I was taken by the driver to the clinic and met by Brooke, who showed me to me apartment. Apartment was lovely, I even had two toilets, guess you can never have too many!! I was told I would be met the following morning at 7am for the big day! Only I felt so chilled in my lovely apartment bed that I nearly overslept, had to rush round getting ready so no time for nerves!!”
Did you get to meet the surgeons? “The representative Tina met me and took me down to the clinic, nerves started kicking in but Tina was lovely and put my mind at rest. I then had various tests and discussions with medical staff, I was impressed at how thorough the pre-op tests were even down to the psychiatric consultation.”
And what about the surgery itself? “I went to my hospital room had my pre-op meds and then laughed uncontrollably while 2 nurses tried to get my surgical stockings up my legs. Although their English was not perfect, they made me feel at ease. Then they wheeled me off to the theatre… I woke up back in my hospital room, feeling surprisingly good.”
Great! But what about after the surgery – the recovery time? “I was checked regularly and drifted in and out of sleep. I got up to go to the toilet and couldn’t believe I hard no pain. I had a good night and the next day the liquids started, I must admit I did have more nausea than I expected, however the staff were amazing what with the nurses and regular checks from the surgeons. I was discharged back to my room on Wednesday afternoon, however I spent the night in my apartment room being sick. I rang Tina and spoke to the nurses saying they would get me to see surgeon in the morning.”
And what happened on Thursday? “On Thursday morning I was seen and readmitted to the clinic, and I was their only patient! I got one to one treatment, which was amazing. My nausea continued until Friday morning but by Friday lunchtime it stopped, and Dr Fried felt OK to discharge me.”
Did you feel that going abroad for surgery was a good idea? “I would just like to say that although I was a lot more sick than I anticipated the level of care I received in the clinic in Prague was second to none, I have had quite a lot of knee surgery privately in this country and there was no difference, if anything I got better treatment over there. I was initially worried about the language problems as some staff were more fluent in English than others, however I would see the same staff and had a good laugh with them as felt quite sad to leave them at the end of the week, along with Tina they had become my family over there!”
Great! And how have things been since coming home? “So here I am, back in the UK already, feeling slimmer with the neatest incisions ever! I would just like to thank Angela and all at Secret Surgery – I never once doubted the professionalism but also felt that I could ask any questions and always got speedy answers.”
Any last thoughts? “I still wish I could have been out there with my surgery buddy that was one thing that really appealed and think that it is great for the company to put you together with someone else in the same boat, so although we didn’t travel together I still have my buddy to share our experience back here. So in a nutshell, I would like to thank Angela and Secret Surgery for all the professionalism and support I have received and I know this will continue in my onward journey! I would recommend this life changing experience to anyone.”
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…
“I would like to start with how easy the process was from the beginning. Angela looked after me and answered any questions I had, day or night. I paid my deposit, and Angela booked my flights, apartment and procedure – I had to do nothing. She even checked me in for my flight!”
Did you arrive OK? “On the day of my flight, everything went smoothly and I landed in Prague to be met by my driver, Paul, who was very nice. He took us to the clinic where I was met by troy. I was shown to my apartment, which was lovely, and given a welcome pack with a full itinerary for the following day.”
How did the operation itself go? “The day of the op, I was met downstairs by Troy and taken for pre-op tests. The clinic was clean and most of the staff spoke very good English. Professor Fried was amazing and he sat and answered all of my questions. He explained the procedure in detail, too. I was taken for my op, and when I woke up I felt OK – just a little sick, and I was given meds for this.”
“I felt amazing. A few days later I was discharged back to my apartment, where I stayed until my driver picked me up and drove me back to the airport. Oh – I forgot to add that I was given a phone call every day by Angela to see how I was… Secret Surgery have been brilliant, and I will be coming back for plastics! Thanks Angela!”
What a positive story! We’re always up for hearing more Secret Surgery stories, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with your experiences!
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!