With the vast majority of American adults being overweight, millions of people are searching desperately for ways to slim down. Hair stylist Angela Avery, 30, was one of them and she chose to have gastric banding surgery to finally conquer her food addiction. This decision ultimately changed her life for the worse, however.
As a child from Collierville, Tennessee, Angela was always a lot bigger than other kids. And when she became a teenager, she gained even more weight. In fact, by the time Angela started at Collierville High School, she was almost 300 pounds. That’s double the average weight of a teenage girl in the U.S.
There are several types of surgery available to help people lose weight, so Angela conducted some research. She then consulted her doctor, and he recommended that she get a gastric band. Angela decided to take on his advice and, without considering other options further, she subsequently had the operation.
When getting a lap band to lose weight, a constrictive band is put on top of and around the stomach, just below the esophagus. It works by restricting the amount of food that can pass into the stomach. Then, for it to be fully effective, it also requires healthy lifestyle changes.
Dr. Andrew Ordon spoke about these issues on The Doctors in October 2017. He explained that this procedure became a craze because it seemed to be the “easiest” and “least invasive” option. However, the fact that there is a foreign object inside your body is a danger in itself. And then there are the risks relating to the tightness of the band.
For the first year after the surgery, Angela’s body changed markedly and the operation appeared to have been a great success. Indeed, she shed 99 pounds in total. And her weight loss continued – but soon it took a turn for the worse. She found it difficult to eat or drink anything, and as a result she was losing weight too quickly.
She became so skinny, in fact, that you could see the outline of her rib-cage. Her doctors performed X-rays to find out what was causing the extreme weight-loss. They subsequently found that the band had twisted around, taking her stomach with it and preventing anything from passing through.
The doctors solved her problem by replacing the band with a smaller one. Little did they know, however, that this fix would only be temporary. Angela continued life as normal for a while and became pregnant. But after she gave birth to her daughter, things became even worse than before.
Angela was experiencing rapid weight loss again, but this time it was accompanied by a terrible fever. So for the third time, she underwent surgery. Her doctors found that she was suffering from a severe foreign-body infection due to the band. There was nothing left to do but remove it.
The doctors consequently put her on several powerful antibiotics and she soon became healthy again. Three months after they removed the lap band, however, Angela had already gained 30 pounds. As a result her boyfriend, who she’d met and fallen in love with while at her skinniest, was afraid that she was going back to her old ways.
On The Doctors she recalled that the meanest thing he ever said was, “If I were blind, I would be proposing today.” It became clear that the only reason that he didn’t want to marry her was because she was not slim enough in his eyes. Thankfully, Angela soon ended the relationship. “I shouldn’t have let him interfere with how I felt about myself,” she added.
She now wishes that she had weighed up more options instead of just going along with her doctor’s recommendation. “Had I known what I know now, that I could control my weight through the diet that works for me, through fitness, through just paying attention to what I am eating and how much that I am eating,” Angela said.
At 30 years of age, she is now confident that she has controlled her food addiction. Sadly, however, the ordeal has left her with an excess of skin. Angela explained that it is frustrating that, after putting in all the hard work with a strict diet and exercise plan, she is left with “horrible hanging skin.”
In order to hide it, she wears a body suit that goes from her knees up to her shoulders. “In my head it’s a constant voice, ‘Check your top. Make sure it’s pulled down. Check this, check that, check, check, check, check.’ It’s almost obsessive,” Angela admitted.
The days of the gastric band’s popularity are finally over, though, as recent reports revealed that there are now more surgeries being performed to remove or alter them than to implant the bands. With this in mind, what was once considered a solution to controlling weight is now being viewed as a problem. And Angela is living proof of the risks involved.
During her appearance on The Doctors she spoke at length about her gastric band and the anguish that it caused. She admitted how much she regretted the decision but added that she is finally healthy now and aims to save enough to remove her excess skin.
“Not only does it look bad, it causes other issues,” she explained. “When it first happened, I would get rashes, like athlete’s foot-type rashes. That interferes with fitness, too, because I want to run and I can run but it hurts. I want to jump but it hurts.”
At the end of the interview on The Doctors, the hosts revealed their life-changing surprise. They had reached out to plastic surgeon Dr. Nick Sieveking of Nashville, Tennessee, who was kind enough to agree to help Angela, completely free of charge.
Dr. Sieveking is double board-certified in functional medicine and plastic and reconstructive surgery. He plans to turn Angela’s life around with body contouring and excess skin removal surgery, which will hopefully allow her to throw away the tight suit and live in the body that she has always dreamed of.
In disbelief at the news, she grinned broadly and shielded her beaming face with her hands. “I promised I wasn’t going to cry,” she said joyfully. “Wow, thank you guys so much. You have no idea how much that means to me.” Finally, thanks to the generosity of The Doctors and Dr. Sieveking, Angela may be able to live the healthy and confident life that she has wanted for so many years.