It is no secret that waistlines in America are out of control, adding more people and pounds to the obesity epidemic. But for some in that category, no amount of diet and exercise gets them back into the healthy range and that is where bariatric surgery comes in.
All her life, Francis Lee says she felt like she was destined to be overweight. “It was very discouraging, because I always felt like no matter what I did I was always going to be a big person,” she said.
Two years ago, this Fort Polk nurse faced the harsh reality that her health concerns could be life-threatening if she did not get her weight in balance. “I had congestive heart failure, I had thyroid problems, also had high blood pressure and high cholesterol,” she said.
A friend told Francis about the success she had with Dr. Keith Chung at Women and Children’s Hospital. He suggested gastric bypass as an option, using staples to create a small stomach pouch and bypassing the main part of the stomach to absorb fewer calories. “The combination of both, controlling the amount of food that you eat and absorbing less is very, very effective for people with metabolic syndrome or diabetes,” said Dr. Chung.
Because of the serious nature of these bariatric procedures, there are several steps that potential candidates would have to take first before being approved, like diet and exercise. Then, it is up to the surgeon to decide if the candidate is best suited for a bariatric procedure. “If you have a lot of medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol problems and things that are affecting your life, basically you are a candidate for it,” said Dr. Chung.
With 100 plus pounds to lose, Francis was an ideal candidate, after documenting that months of diet and exercise yielded minimal results. “So what it means is that bariatric surgery is a treatment of last resort,” said Dr. Chung.
Francis has learned how to eat with a much smaller stomach, packing a healthy lunch every day. Her smaller, leaner portions have resulted in a 115 pound weight loss and fresh energy in her marriage. “He likes the new life we have!” she said.