Gastric Bypass (RNY) vs. Gastric Sleeve (VSG) – Which one is right for me?
“What made you choose Gastric Bypass instead of the Sleeve? Do you have any regrets?”
This is probably the most often asked question I see being asked around the WLS community. Usually it’s a question asked by those still going through the pre-op journey, sometimes asked by those who are choosing to have revision surgery, usually years after their first attempt.
I will offer my testimonial for everyone, because I think it’s important for all to be informed first-hand about what the surgery requires. However, I do want all of you to make sure that you’re secure and comfortable with your choice.
With that out of the way, I must jump right to the point – I was never a candidate for VSG (Gastric Sleeve) surgery. The reason why is the acid reflux I’ve had since I was a child. However, even without that, I can honestly say that I still would have chosen RNY (Gastric Bypass). When I began this journey, I had a proverbial mountain in front of me, and I knew it. I had a lot of weight to drop, and it wasn’t going to come off any easier than it went on – this was a lifetime commitment. My BMI was 67.5 and I’d yo-yo’ed my way through my 20’s, always seeming to gain back even more than I ever lost, at one point tipping 500 pounds.
The most difficult part of losing weight had always been sticking to the diets in the long-term. I would have a bad day, and the only way I really knew how to cope was to eat until I couldn’t feel it anymore. And then once I started to cheat on my diet, the willpower to keep trying would dwindle down to nothing and I’d give up. Again. I knew that the only way I was going to get anywhere with my weight was if I did something to take away the opportunity to cheat. I needed a step up to help me stay focused even when I felt weak.
The more I read, and researched, and considered, the more certain I became that Gastric Bypass was exactly what I needed to help me finally kick my unhealthy habits. It’s not an easy way out, it’s not fool-proof and it’s not right for everyone. But I can honestly say that if I hadn’t had this surgery, my life wouldn’t have lasted more than another 25 years, and I would have absolutely no quality of life. This surgery saved my life, and has made so many things seem possible for me – finishing college, finding love, hiking up a mountain, going skydiving, traveling to Rome and exploring every inch of the city.
So, when it comes down to regrets, I can honestly say there are none. It’s not been all sunshine and rainbows, of course. I’ve vomited more times in the last 6 months than I have over the rest of my 31 years combined, some days I feel like there is more hair in my brush than on my head and it’s no picnic confronting emotions that I’ve spent a lifetime avoiding behind a wall of food. But for every time I’ve gotten sick, I’ve learned what my pouch can and cannot handle, and I now feel much more in control than I did at first. For every hair that comes out of my head, there’s another dream that goes in. And those emotions are rough, but once you learn to conquer them, you’re unstoppable.
I still have my bad days when it comes to food. There are times when I can’t resist, when I just eat mindlessly and try desperately to shut it all off. It doesn’t work, and that’s the beauty of it. It forces me to limit myself with what I put into my body, but it also forces me to stay accountable of my own emotions. When I stray from my recommended diet, I pay for it with stomach cramps, sweats and a complete inability to do anything but lay down until it passes. And I learn. I continue on my journey. I’ll be weak again, I’m sure there won’t ever be a time when I won’t want some of my favorite junk foods. But each time I remember how it ended for me the last time, and
I don’t feel that I would have had the same success with VSG. I definitely know I would have lost weight, and it would have been worlds better than what I was dealing with before surgery. I even know that it’s possible to lose the amount of weight that I needed to with the sleeve. But, I felt very strongly that I wanted this for life. I didn’t want the possibility to be there (as easily, of course, this is where that “not the easy way out” part comes in!) to relapse back into my old eating habits. I wanted faster results, because I felt impatient in my own skin. I still do. I want so badly to be at goal weight, to be able to run around and enjoy my life, and I felt like I’d wasted enough of my life as it was. To be frank, I just wanted the weight off of me, as quickly as possible.
I feel that RNY was perfect for me. My surgeon agreed, from the moment he walked into the exam room and I told him I wanted a Gastric Bypass. There was never a single doubt in my mind that this would be what finally worked for me, and that I would be successful in achieving the kind of health I’d always wished for. And even still, I feel that it exceeds my expectations. Something finally works! My tool has helped me conquer something that I could never seem to get ahead of, and something I’d been dealing with all my life. It hasn’t just given me back my life – it’s given me a brand new life in general.
Regardless of which surgery is best for you, that is the feeling I want for all of you. Like you just can’t wait to get started. Listen, life hasn’t always been kind to us “fat” folks. We deal with a lot more than people realize, and even if we did put ourselves here, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy feeling so lousy all the time. Aching back, knees, muscle cramps, respiratory problems – none of those things are fun for anyone, and it doesn’t matter how you got there. It still hurts just as bad, feels just as embarrassing and makes us feel just as alone, regardless of the road we took to get there.
You aren’t alone, though. Every single one of us have been there at some point in our lives, and although we’re all different human beings with different intentions and motivations, we all did this for one reason: Health. We wanted to be healthy. And I know it’s probably what you want, too. So, if you’re on the fence, here’s my little encouraging nudge in the right direction. Don’t take my word for it, though – do your research! Read other testimonials, blogs, examine the different types of surgery and understand what each one requires. Pinterest was where I found most of my resources, I suggest that as a place to start, if you need one.
If you’re here as a post-op WLS patient, or even as a random bystander who happened to stumble across this blog, talk to me about your experiences! Have you or someone you know had WLS? Which one? Any regrets? Complications? Good stories? Leave me a comment and let me know!!