Long-term weight loss with gastric sleeve
Sarah Newell was feeling sluggish. Not only that, she couldn't do things she wanted to do, such as the trip to Disneyland she'd been dreaming of.
But all that started to change after she had a sleeve gastrectomy, a surgical procedure through which the size of the stomach is permanently reduced by about 75 percent.
At her heaviest, Sarah weighed 280 pounds, but after her surgery at Enloe Medical Center in March 2014, the weight started to slip off, though it wasn't immediate and it wasn't a steady downward path.
"It went back and forth," she says. "It was gradual at first then I'd plateau, then I'd drop several pounds then I'd plateau."
This summer, she's reached her target weight of 170 pounds. Everything's easier now, even simple daily tasks. "And people say I'm happier, too."
Sarah's dramatic weight loss doesn't just come down to her surgery. She's also altered the way she eats. She now considers everything she consumes thanks to nutritional education classes at Enloe Medical Center.
These days, she focuses on protein and eats plenty of vegetables and fruit, she says. She's also cut out snacks for the most part. "I try to sit down and enjoy my meals now instead of eating on the run. And I eat only what my body needs, not what my mind wants."
She's also way more active. "I get up and move more than I used to and have so much more energy."
Improved outcomes, improved lives
Deron Ludwig, MD and Erik Simchuk, MD
Enloe Medical Center performs around 300 sleeve gastrectomies per year, according to Dr. Erik Simchuk, bariatric surgeon, and this year was named a Blue Distinction Center Plus in bariatric surgery. The medical center is also designated as a Center of Excellence from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). Through the Enloe Bariatric Program, patients get the support they need to keep the weight off after surgery. Along with Dr. Simchuk, Dr. Deron Ludwig also performs bariatric surgery at Enloe Medical Center.
"The surgery works long-term when it's married with lifestyle changes," says Joy Todd, RN, Coordinator for Bariatric Services. "With lifestyle changes, you have a much greater chance for sustainable success."
The program's foundation is education and ongoing support along with surgical intervention to help patients on the path to success. Education and support before and after surgery include nutrition classes, including cooking demos, exercise and individual mentoring. Support groups, facilitated by licensed professionals, are offered in Chico and Redding, and the Chico group's content is streamed live online to ensure access to the information no matter where a person resides.
"We are here to help bariatric patients achieve long-term success," says Todd.
To qualify for gastric sleeve surgery — so-called because of the shape the surgery renders the stomach — a patient must have a BMI of at least 35 with a medical condition related to their obesity or a BMI of 40 or more without other weight-related medical conditions.
The surgery takes around 55 minutes and patients spend just over a day in the hospital. It's an excellent choice for obese people, Dr. Simchuk says, because outcomes have improved since the mid-1990s when it was first developed.
As Sarah's experience illustrates, weight loss typically occurs over 18 months to two years, he says. And perhaps most importantly, that weight is likely to stay off, due to the reduced stomach capacity, and the reduction in appetite-stimulating hormones.
But it's not just the weight loss that's so remarkable, Dr. Simchuk says. "It's the resolution of the medical conditions, in terms of high cholesterol, diabetes, joint pain, high blood pressure and other problems."
As for Sarah, she's been to Disneyland twice since her surgery. "I have so much more stamina now," she says, "and feel so much more comfortable on the rides."
Enloe Medical Center recently recognized the Bariatric Program for this comprehensive care. It awarded the team with an Enloe Spirit of Planetree Award for providing patients with patient-centered, healthy weight management and excellent quality care. Enloe's program meets and exceeds national standards with demonstrated expertise in delivering quality health care based on rigorous, evidence-based criteria. It is designated as a Blue Distinction-Plus Center for Bariatric Surgery.
Visit www.enloe.org/weight to learn more about the Enloe Bariatric Program. Here you can find Q&A videos on a variety of related topics, such as diets, BMI, advantages to minimally invasive surgery and realistic expectations long term.