Daniel, Age 41
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At age 41, Daniel weighed over 340 lbs. He had become a diabetic with high blood pressure and constant back pain. “My entire life I had been the big happy guy. While I was happy and making people laugh on the outside, I was sad and depressed on the inside. I was just ready for a change.”
With the help and support from his family, friends, and coworkers, Daniel sought out Dr. Michael Lee, bariatric surgeon and former Director of Bariatric Surgery at UT Southwestern, for his expertise and care. “I had never had surgery before and I was beyond scared. I chose to have the sleeve surgery with Dr. Lee and that has been the best decision I have ever made for ME! Dr. Lee has been supportive and encouraging throughout the entire weight loss journey.”
Dr. Lee stresses the importance of having continued support before and after surgery. “Having the team concept in mind is what encourages and motivates patients. Knowing that enables patients and allows them to control their own lives with the proper coaching and direction,” says Dr. Lee. “As much as I like talking, I’m more speechless when I look at the past in comparison. The proof is in the pictures. I have no regrets as this was the best decision I’ve made. Bariatric surgery truly was an investment,” says Daniel.
Barbra, Age 45
Having struggled with her weight since childhood, and diagnosed with autoimmune disorders as an adult, Barbra underwent gastric bypass surgery in November 2012 and has since lost 125 pounds.
“I’ve been on Weight Watchers since the second grade,” said Barbra, 45. “I’d lose 30 pounds, gain back 15, lose 20, and gain it back.” Barbra said she had always ruled out bariatric surgery as an option because her best friend’s mother passed away from bariatric surgery complications 15 years ago. “I had said to myself, no matter how bad it gets, I’m never doing the surgery,” she said. But then one day, while having a massage, she began to reconsider. Barbra’s trusted massage therapist gently broached the topic of bariatric surgery, recounting friends’ success stories and offering to connect Barbra with them. “For my massage therapist, who is very holistic, to suggest surgery, I thought [my weight] must be bad,” Barbra said. A few months later, when the scale reached 301, Barbra decided to act. On Medicare because of her fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, Barbra needed to find a bariatric surgeon who would accept her insurance. She found two in the Dallas area and eagerly went to the information sessions both surgeons offered. The first, she said, was discouraging, lacking both substance and compassion. But the second, at UT Southwestern Medical Center, was all she’d hoped for and more. “The whole team was there, from the nutritionist to the surgeon,” she said. “They were happy to answer everyone’s questions and went into so much detail. A friend recommended finding a team that follows you for life. I found that at UTSW.”
Barbra’s bariatric surgeon Michael Lee, M.D., says bariatric surgery has evolved in the past decade – not in technique but in philosophy.
“Bariatric surgery was only offered as a last resort and mostly considered palliative 10-15 years ago. Safety was once an unknown concern, but the 30-day mortality rate from bariatric surgery is close to 0.1 percent, which is comparable to gallbladder surgery and lower than many other types of major surgery. Patients were much heavier and older, with compounded effects of morbid obesity-related medical problems with age, often wishing they had surgery years earlier,” Dr. Lee said. “Patients like Barbra are learning from the regrets of those before them, as bariatric surgery has become more mainstream and common because of its safety and effectiveness.”
Today, Barbra weighs 176 pounds. While her autoimmune disorders remain, she no longer needs high blood pressure medication, and her back, hip, and knee pains have subsided. She can also enjoy more activities with her 9-year-old twins.
“I can take them to amusement parks and fit on the rides comfortably with them, and I can go to the waterpark and fit through the inner tube, which is something I couldn’t do before,” she said. “Best of all, my daughter can hug me and wrap her arms all the way around my waist. That’s a great feeling!“
2015 Update for Barbra:
Barbra enjoys traveling and enjoying a healthy life. She is almost 3 years post-op doing great and is a great inspiration to her friends and community.
Sonia, Age 32
Constantly cycling through weight gain and loss has been a life-long struggle for Sonia. “I have always struggled with weight loss. My highest weight was 319. I have 3 boys and after every pregnancy I gained more and more weight.”
She recognized that she needed to gain control over her life and her well-being to better take care of her children after being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and high blood pressure all at the young age of 30. After doing her research on bariatric surgery, she was convinced that dieting and exercise weren’t enough anymore and that her obesity was punishing her body like a compounding high interest loan. She was determined to learn from other people’s experiences and have surgery while she was younger with less overall medical risk so she could live a longer and healthier life and watch her family grow.
With the help of her coworkers in the Diabetes Management Clinic she started eating healthier and began losing a modest amount of weight even before seeing anyone at the Bariatric clinic as she knew that pre-op success would be the key to post-op success. “I weighed 276 and we decided that the Sleeve Gastrectomy would be best for me after being informed of all my options.”
Much to her and her family’s benefit, she is no longer obese and can expect to live the next 50 years or more with a much higher quality of life. “I am so happy and thankful that I had my surgery and that everything turned out great! I no longer have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or High blood pressure and I feel great! I went from a size 24 to a size 12. I still have a lot of work but I am very proud of how far I have come. Thank you to the bariatric team for all your great work and belief in me!”