Sharon Bates, 
Specialist Bariatric Nurse & Counsellor

WLS in 2000


I had weight loss surgery in 2000 and my life and career changed.

I guess I could say I was one of a small group of 'pioneers' who, in desperation, chose to have a relatively unknown surgery (at that time) rather than remain locked in a life of what felt to be social and physical hell! 

In 2000 when you searched for "gastric band" or "weight loss surgery" you were lucky to find anything. Thankfully, a few health professionals were building vast experience and growing recognition internationally e.g. Ahroni, Himpens, Frering, Fielding, Dixon and others were appearing in established medical journals and interest was growing in the UK. Thanks to health professionals like these, who introduced reputable specialist weight loss services, it may be why you are reading this today.
Now, as then, many of us were judged, admonished, chastised and severely criticised for resorting to an operation when it was 'so say' all to do with lack of self control. I do believe we took a particular bashing as we presented the medical establishment with potential problems. I have a family full of medics in various parts of the world and it seems amazing now to remember that few of them knew the words gastric band, RNY, bariatrics, let alone what they meant! 

Such was lack of information available, at the first IFSO I attended I was the only UK health professional there, but times have moved on thankfully.

My Experience As A Fill Provider

To cut a very long, and at times painful, story short, I hope I never forget what it feels like to be fat and if I did I should stop working in this field!

I work as a bariatric specialist nurse in the NHS and the Private sector in Bristol.  I was trained in France (Lyon) by a very experienced surgeon who is also part of our team of surgeons that I work with. I am trained as a Master Practitioner in Eating Disorders & also as a Counsellor. I am also a trainer in these areas for university and national organisations.

All Weight Loss surgery involves more than just the operation, it is a life long change. 

Yes I do fills, I am a fill provider, but follow up care is more than having a fill, having a check up, eating enough protein, taking supplements etc. It is about you as a total person and supporting you in change ~ it is not just a procedure.  Over the years I've met many patients and the following are the most frequently asked questions I get asked about my own journey:

Do you regret having surgery?

Do I still have fluid in my band?

Will you ever have it taken out?

Why did you have a band?

How long does the band last?

Can you feel it?

What do you wish you knew then that you know now? 

My tips for getting the most from your band and living healthily with a band

I don't believe many of us allow ourselves to starve. We like food and eating too much! However any of us can be malnourished.  

Discover new and exciting foods to build your health and well being. Talk to your team about food. Explore what's out there to add variety and nutrition.  If you choose only to eat junk like puffy corn snacks, dips, savoury sauces and chocolate then expect to be unwell, tired, spotty, and irritable, have cravings, mood swings, recurrent thrush and constipation. 

Sharon  Bates, MSc RM RN Dip Co  

Sharon is a Bariatric Nurse Specialist/ Counsellor working in Bristol. She is a Master Practitioner in the treatment of eating disorders [NCFED] and works as a clinician providing care before and after weight loss surgery in the NHS and Private healthcare.