July 25, 2024


A Passion for Better Health

Bariatric surgery marks beginning of lifestyle and nutrition changes to maintain weight loss

Bariatric surgery marks beginning of lifestyle and nutrition changes to maintain weight loss

The path to living the healthiest lifestyle takes a different form for everyone. For some Carle Health patients, bariatric surgery is the best option for helping them live healthier lives. This treatment marks the beginning of changes to their lifestyle and nutrition to maintain weight loss.

“Bariatric surgery is a revolutionary discipline, and it is always developing and changing for the better. We now perform all our procedures laparoscopically with small incisions, which results in fewer scars, shorter recovery times, and fewer complications,” said Bethany Briggs, DO, Bariatric Surgeon. “We also have the ability to perform these procedures with the use of robotic assistance which can provide even more safety and precision to more difficult cases.”

Zachary Peters, 40, was working with his care team to improve his health and found to be a candidate for the bariatrics program at Carle Health. Surgeons performed a gastric bypass, a type of bariatric surgery.

“I had put on a lot of weight and was unhappy,” said Peters. “I had gotten a few referrals for bariatric surgery, but this is something you hope you can solve yourself because there’s a stigma against weight loss treatments.”

Peters first met with a dietician to begin the bariatrics program at Carle Health. Providers presented him with a few treatment options, including exercise and dieting, a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, and bariatrics surgery. Due to other health conditions, the best treatment for Peters was surgery.

The body maintains gained weight like a thermostat maintains the temperature of a home. When someone loses weight through diet and exercise, the body releases hormones to increase hunger and slows down the body’s metabolism to regain that weight.

“Bariatric surgery breaks this cycle, resetting the thermostat by decreasing the amount of food you eat to feel full and decreasing those weight gaining hormones,” said Dr. Briggs. “The weight loss is more substantial and maintainable after surgery compared to non-surgical interventions, but it still takes work and modifications in diet and exercise to realize its full potential.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on operating rooms, the care team had to delay the original date of his gastric bypass. During this time, Peters continued with the program, working out and dieting, but he was not seeing a significant weight loss, prompting him to schedule his surgery as soon as he was able to in October of 2022.

“I pulled the trigger and I’m absolutely happy,” said Peters. I lost 200 pounds and it’s a big difference in my life.”

Before the gastric bypass, Peters had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. While he was active outdoors, Peters became dehydrated quickly. After surgery, Peters’ blood pressure and cholesterol dropped to healthier levels and he found improved ability to stay active without issue. This surgery revealed other health conditions that may not have been discovered otherwise that were addressed after his initial treatment. But Peters believes the outcome of the treatment was incredibly beneficial and recommends it to others.

He is now interested in joining the Carle Heath Bariatrics Facebook Support Group, a virtual support group for patients, friends and family members seeking to learn more about the Bariatric program at Carle Health. As a member, Peters would like to share his experience with others. “I could have been more mentally prepared for it [surgery] with this group,” said Peters. “And I want to help people looking for information to be aware of what I went through. I’d 100 percent do it again.”

“I decided to specialize in bariatrics primarily to take part in the amazing transformative journey of patients who undergo weight loss surgery,” said Dr. Briggs. “To do so, I wanted to make sure I became part of a program that is truly patient-oriented, and I found that at Carle Health.”

Even after surgery, patients will need to maintain healthy nutrition and exercise to keep up their weight loss. Surgery is only the start of needed lifestyle changes, and continued support is available through the bariatrics program and the Facebook Support Group community.

Peters recommends beginning the program or the surgery for those who feel like they are missing out on the things they used to be able to do in life. “All the things you’re missing out on in life, you get them back. I used to hate getting my picture taken. All that is transformed.”

“Bariatric surgery is a life changing procedure, but it does take a major operation to bring about those changes. Everyone’s recovery process after a major operation is different. With new techniques like laparoscopy and robotics, however, the recovery period is always getting shorter,” said Dr. Briggs. “People are usually getting back to their day-to-day activities after a week or two and ready to return to work around three weeks after surgery.”

“It transformed my life,” said Peters. “I wish I had done it five or ten years sooner. I gained a lot of my life back.”

For more information on weight-management support and resources, visit Carle.org.

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