Category: <span>Surgery</span>

I had an appointment with my endocrinologist today, and I was delighted to learn that my hormone levels are now back to normal!

I had been referred to the endocrinologist a couple of years ago by my oncologist when it was noted that my Testosterone levels were quite low, and I also had noticeable Gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men).

Subsequent blood tests confirmed that my Testosterone levels were low and my Prolactin levels were high.

Hormone treatment

I had a scan done on my pituitary gland (a part of the brain which produces hormones) to check for problems, and thankfully that was fine.

I was put on medication to lower the Prolactin levels, and was then proscribed a Testosterone gel (Testogel) to apply to my skin every day. And both of these medications helped normalise my hormone levels.

However, following my bariatric surgery 10 months ago, the consultant was keen to find out if I still needed the medication – so we agreed that I would come off the meds about 3 months ago.

Anyway, so my bloods were tested last week, and the results show that both my Prolactin and Testosterone levels are now normal, which is being attributed to the 40 kg weight loss following my gastric bypass.

So naturally, I’m delighted that the hormone imbalance has corrected itself. It’s one fewer health concern to worry about, and it’s also one fewer consultant to visit!

Gynecomastia treatment

One of the known side effect in men of having high Prolactin levels is breast enlargement. However, having bigger breasts is also a side effect of being obese, so I’m not sure if my man-boobs (or ‘moobs’) are to do with my weight or the previous Prolactin levels (it may be both).

Either way, I was checking up on the treatment options for men with Gynecomastia. Basically the only effective treatment is to have liposuction, as most of the tissue in the breast is fat.

It’s classed as a cosmetic surgery, which is generally not covered by private health insurance – unless a medical case can be made for treating it.

Either way, I don’t think I’d qualify for the surgery at my current weight. I read somewhere that patients are meant to have a BMI under 25 before they are considered for Gynecomastia surgery – I’m guessing on the basis that losing weight will most likely reduce the man-boob size without surgery.

Medication Surgery

I’ve been hovering around the same weight – give or take a kilo – for the last 6 weeks. And, more worryingly, for the last 4 weeks my weight has actually been creeping up!

I had been making good progress, and in first 7 months after my gastric bypass surgery I managed to lose 40 kg (over 6 stone) in weight. But since then my progress has stalled. And I kind-of know why.

Too much snacking and bad snacking

My main meals have pretty much stayed the same. I’m eating the same breakfast, lunch and dinner as I usually would – with an emphasis on protein rather than carbs.

However, I’ve got into the really bad habit of snacking on sweets between meals – which means I’m consuming a fair amount of sugar and empty calories. My particular undoing at the moment are mints, which I often eat unconsciously while at my desk, and they’re almost pure sugar.

If I can reduce the amount of snacking between meals, or at least make my snacks more healthy, then hopefully start to lose a bit of weight again. The key to this is to not have unhealthy snacks in the house, because I’m only picking at them because they’re handy.

I might also start tracking all my foods again in MyFitnessPal, which is a pain the hole to do, but it really useful in helping to keep track of my daily calories and macro-nutrients.

A lack of upper body strength

I’m pretty good at doing exercise that builds strength in my lower body. I walk and/or cycle pretty much every day, which helps build strength and muscles in my legs. But I do pretty much no training that helps build muscles in my upper body.

I’ve been told that people losing weight after bariatric surgery are prone to losing muscle mass as well as body fat. And to counteract this muscle loss, it’s important to eat lots of protein, but also to do strength and resistance training.

I went to see an Exercise Physiologist a couple of weeks ago, and he gave me an exercise plan to help with building my upper body, but I haven’t actually started doing it. I tell myself that it’s because I’m still waiting for my dumbbells to arrive – but it’s probably more related to laziness!

My Story Surgery

I picked up the term Empty Calories a few years ago when I was trying to lose weight by going to a slimming club. It was used to describe foods that are typically high in sugar and fat, but have little or no nutritional value.

When comparing foods and deciding what to eat, I find it important not just to look at the number of calories in isolation, but also check on what vitamins, minerals, protein, sugar, and fibre are in the food.

There are certain foods, like cakes, chocolate, ice-cream, sweets, crips, sugary drinks, and especially alcoholic drinks that are all high in calories, but have very little in the way of nutritional benefits. And these are the type of foods that I refer to as having ’empty calories’.

Given the choice between an avocado and a chocolate bar, it should be obvious that an avocado is much better for you. They have a similar number of calories, but the nutritional benefits of eating the avocado instead of the chocolate bar are much higher!

A bottle of wine typically contains around 635 calories, and a pint of beer is around 240 calories, and neither of them contain much in the way of nutrition. And as such they are some of the worst examples of empty calories!

Diet Surgery

Today marks the 8-month anniversary since my gastric bypass surgery, so I thought I’d give a quick update.

Since surgery I’ve lost a total of 41 kg so far – that’s nearly 6 and a half stones, or 90 lbs. I’m delighted with the progress so far, and am continuing to lose weight – albeit more slowly than in the first 6 months.

My BMI has also dropped below 35, so I’m officially not ‘morbidly’ obese any more!


I’m eating normally now, and there aren’t any foods that I can’t tolerate. I’ve also not experienced dumping at all. I asked the dietician about it, and she said that I’d definitely know if I had it. So I guess I’m lucky to avoid it.

My tolerance for all foods means that I have to be careful not to slip into old habits and buy lots of sugary and fatty treats. I physically can’t consume as much food as I used to – because of my smaller stomach – but I’m sure I could do a lot of damage to my weight loss if I’m not careful.

I’m currently not tracking what I eat, which is potentially risky, but I want to see if I can make my eating more normal – without the obsessive tracking of calories and protein. I want to get used to the ‘new normal’ of eating.


My clothing sizes have definitely dropped. My jeans have gone down from a 42 inch waist to 36 inches, and my shirts have gone from 4XL to 2XL. So I’m finally able to dip into the half of the wardrobe that previously held the ‘too small’ clothes. I have some items that have never been worn and still have the tags on them, so it’s like going on a shopping trip, but everything is free!


As I’ve talked about before, I’m trying to exercise at least once a day. Not just for my physical fitness, but for my mental health as well. I’ve found that a walk or cycle is a great way to clear the head, and earn some Active Zone Minutes on my Fitbit!

I also had an appointment a couple of weeks ago with an Exercise Physiologist at Medfit Proactive Healthcare to get assessed for some strength training to help with my upper body strength and condition. I wanted to work with a specialist who has good experience of obese people and bariatric patients in particular, as I’ve had a bad experience with a personal trainer in the past who didn’t make any allowance for my body size and weaknesses.

Anyway, I now have an exercise plan to do at home, until the gyms open at least. Although I’m having trouble finding somewhere that sells dumb-bells, as they seem to be sold out everywhere!

My Story Surgery

I was finishing up work on Monday this week, and I got a call from the nurse from my GP’s surgery. They had a spare dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and asked if I could come in straight away.

Apparently I was already on their list of high-risk patients because of my medical history (cancer / obesity), and was due to be invited to get the vaccine later in the week anyway. But because they had a spare dose, and I live very close to the GP surgery, they decided to call me in early.

I was delighted to get call, and accepted straight away, and 5 minutes later I was stood outside the surgery waiting to be called in.

It was the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine that I received. It was administered very quickly and painlessly. I was then asked to stay in the waiting room for 15 minutes (for observation) before heading home.

I also have a provisional appointment for my second dose in 4 week’s time, but that might change if the government decide to extend the time period between doses, to allow for more people to receive their first dose.

I feel very lucky to have received the vaccine early. At the moment, the Irish health authorities are only vaccinating people aged 65-69 and also those judged to be at very high risk because of their medical status. Other adults under 65 face a wait of weeks – if not months – until they can avail of their first shot.

Medication Surgery

It’s now around seven and a half months since my Gastric Bypass surgery, and so far I’ve lost a total of 40.3 kg (6 st 5 lbs).

And as of today, I’ve also dropped down into a new BMI category. My BMI this morning is officially 34.9, so I dropped from being severely obese to only being moderately obese! Or rather, I’ve gone from obese class II to obese class I.

Under 18.5Underweight
18.5 – 24.9Normal healthy weight
25.0 – 29.9Overweight
30.0 – 34.9Obese Class I (Moderately obese)
35.0 – 39.9Obese Class II (Severely obese)
40 and overObese Class III (Very severely obese)

On the day of my surgery my BMI was 46.3, so I was in Obese Class III – so I’ve come a long way since then. And hopefully it’s all improved my health!

My goal is to keep losing weight so that my BMI drops below 30, so that I’ll be in the Overweight category. And to do that, I need to lose about another 20 kg or 3 stones.

Surgery Weight