One of First-ever Lap Bands in 1986 -Irvington, NJ

Desperation to due chronic morbid obesity caused...

Desperation to due chronic morbid obesity caused me to search out the only surgeon doing "silicone gastric banding" surgery in the U.S. in 1986, when I was in my 30s. He was an angel and a real pioneer -- learned the procedure in Europe. Although years later I had it reversed with a gastric bypass (chronic vomiting - my fault) I have NEVER regretted it and it changed my life.

Hi Janklein, welcome and thanks so much for sharing your journey with us!

Wow, that was a long time ago, when it comes to WLS surgery, which has only recently begun getting more popular! If you don't mind sharing, and if you can remember, what was the process like back then for this surgery? Was the recovery very difficult, did you have much pain and downtime?

Dear Kirsty -- I had the luck of the blissfully ignorant and confident! It was a ten-day hospital stay because banding patients were monitored closely for clots and infection. By the third day i had found the way to the hospital roof, sneaking up there in shorts and suntan oil. My roommate wasn't so lucky -- her obesity was much greater (450 lbs) she had a lot of hanging skin and many drains, so her pain and recovery was much longer. A third woman in our early group died from a post-operative infection .We all had been made aware of the serious risks; this was new territory.; and we all elected to play the odds versus the misery of the continued desperation of morbid obesity. Downtime was a few weeks for me, as I recall. Pain was tolerable and I was Rollerblading in three months. At the time, absolutely NO ONE comprehended the procedure and things like ports, balancing, injections, etc; so I didn't bring it up much! I had many band adjustments, as this technology was being figured out, and didn't mind them. Never did find the right "level" though, or the right eating discipline, and wound up hospitalized with pnuemonia from aspiration from vomiting (after that, several years later, reversed the procedure with a gastric bypass, As you pointed out, these were the early years! I have not regretted the lap banding surgery for a nanosecond, and only wish it had been available to me in my 20s (or earlier). I am so very glad that bariatric surgery has become, since then, a real, available, coverable option for many near-desperate people.

Thanks for your very honest and detailed update. Information like this helps a lot of people. It's such a shame that people in your group had complications and died, but as you say, it was very new and never done before. Risk were bound to be there, as with all surgeries. Now of course we know that surgeons would never really Lap Band a morbidly obese patient of 450lb, it's more likely to be a bypass or gastric sleeve. But these are the things we learn through trial and error!

I'm so glad it went well for you, in the beginning. How much weight did you lose with the band, if you don't mind sharing?

I would love to see a before/after photo, if you have any you feel comfortable sharing with us!

LLudomyr Kuzmak

From a clinical psychologist I was seeing about weight loss issues, and research in various non-diet (had tried ALL of them) emerging treatments worldwide for obesity.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
4 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
4 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
4 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
4 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
4 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
4 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
4 out of 5 stars Payment process
3 out of 5 stars Wait times
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