I told you about this when I was interviewed in October, but it was finally printed in the Palm Beach Post yesterday. The only thing wrong is my current weight...as of this morning, it was 211.8. :-)
Bariatric surgeries: Why they went under the knife to find a new life
By Steve Dorfman Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Posted: 6:55 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14, 2011
Carnie Wilson is almost as famous for her yo-yoing weight as for her singing career.
She once tipped the scales at 300, got gastric-bypass surgery in 1999 - and famously dropped 150 pounds.
However, she gradually resumed her poor eating habits and her body told the story: In 2010, she was back up to 218.
The Today show's Al Roker got the same surgery in 2002 and has kept 115 pounds off so far - but he's the first to say bariatric surgery is not an easy fix for obesity.
"For anybody who thinks that this is a magic bullet ... that you do this and it's done - you're making a mistake. It's not," he told Dateline NBC in 2004.
Bariatric surgery is a last resort - but it has become safer, and more morbidly obese people are choosing it.
Surgeons have become more proficient with the two most popular procedures - gastric bypass and gastric banding - and the newer "gastric-sleeve" procedure is gaining acceptance.
"When these procedures first became widespread in the mid-1990s, there was a learning curve for all surgeons," says Dr. Paul Wizman, head of bariatric surgery at Wellington Regional Medical Center. "Since then, we've developed a mainstream, more uniformed approach for all bariatric
surgeons to follow."
Wizman notes that the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) recognizes providers that deliver top-notch care: "To be designated an ASMBS Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence (BSCOE) is like having the Good Housekeeping seal of approval in our industry."
The center that Wizman heads at Wellington Regional earned that rating.
And what has all this self-regulation meant for bariatric patients?
"We've minimized post-surgical complications to the point that they happen less than 1 percent of the time," Wizman explains. "I won't go so far as to say that bariatric procedures are now outpatient surgery - but they're darned close."
Facing your food demons
Carnie Wilson's journey is now a cautionary tale. Last February, she had a sobering, on-air, heart-to-heart with Dr. Mehmet Oz on his talk show about her excess weight.
Oz's tough love on that show inspired Wilson, and she lost a few pounds. But by November, she was fired as spokesperson for the diet company The Fresh Diet, and in December, she told the PopEater website: "I'm fat, what can I say?"
As every person with a lifelong weight problem will attest, the real battle is emotional - and surgery doesn't address that.
As Lake Worth dieter Stephanie Martin says of the mental challenges to losing weight: "The Lap-Band only goes around my stomach - not my brain."
Martin has lost about 60 pounds in nine months after her surgery, and she's now down to about 220. "I had been on every diet imaginable before then, and the thought of being on another one literally made me sick."
Keith Sims, 43, a former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman and current broadcaster on the team's flagship radio station, also found success with the Lap-Band procedure, which restricts the size of a person's stomach. Sims weighed 350 pounds when he had his Lap-Band procedure in August, and he's now down 60 pounds.
Dr. David Adler, 45, an OB-GYN in Wellington, opted for gastric bypass (performed by Wizman) because, at more than 400 pounds, he says, "I had so much weight to lose."
However, Adler correctly recognizes that his bariatric procedure is "just a tool to help me live a more healthful lifestyle. Yes, my body will 'punish' me if I eat too much, or eat the wrong kinds of foods. But it's still up to me to properly plan my meals and to make the right choices."
Thus far, Adler has dropped nearly 200 pounds in a year-and-a-half.
The potentially dire consequences of morbid obesity are why Adler says, "Whenever I see people out in public who look the way I used to, I want to say to them, 'You don't have to live like this. There's a better way. Let me tell you what has saved me'"
Surgery: Lap-Band procedure at Wellington Regional Medical Center in March 2010
Weight before surgery: 280
Current weight: 223
Goal weight: 140
Bariatric surgery success stories
Background: This married, tech-support professional and student at Palm Beach State College describes herself as having been a "chubby kid." But, she says, weight was never an issue until she went away to college as a teen. "You've heard of the 'freshman 15'? Well, I gained the 'freshman 50'!" Since then, she's been on "every diet imaginable, and it always went the same way: I'd lose 30 pounds - but then gain back 40 or 50."
Why she chose gastric banding: "The thought of going on another diet literally made me sick. My mom suggested the Lap-Band procedure. I did some research, learned more, and something about it just clicked. It's less extreme than the bypass, and my insurance covered 80 percent of it."
Biggest post-surgical challenges: "Dealing with food on a daily basis can be a nuisance - especially when certain people in your life are 'food-pushers.' Sometimes I wish I could just take a pill. Also, my husband, who has been so supportive during this whole process, still eats a normal diet. So I have to make sure he enjoys his meals."
Best post-surgical benefits: "Seeing my body change has been amazing! I can shop for clothes. I can fit into an airplane seat and a restaurant booth. I have much more energy and even ride the roller-coasters at Universal Studios. But perhaps best of all have been the connections I've
made with other Lap-Band patients on my blog at electricladyband.blogspot.com."
DR. DAVID ADLER
Background: A successful OB-GYN, Adler, a married father of two sons, says, "I've always been overweight, but, growing up, I was also pretty athletic. The bottom line is, I loved to eat! And I was pretty undisciplined about it, making horrible choices with fast food and other high-caloric junk. Every year, I seemed to gain 15 to 20 pounds."
Why he chose gastric bypass: "I'd been thinking about it for a few years and had seen the success that some of my own patients had with it. Considering how much weight I needed to lose - around 200 pounds - gastric bypass made the most sense to me. I'm a surgeon myself, so I did a lot of research and listened to one of Dr. Paul Wizman's lectures about bariatric surgery at Wellington Regional Medical Center."
Biggest post-surgical challenges: "The first couple of months back at work were an adjustment, because I had to get used to consuming only a few hundred calories a day. Even though I wasn't hungry, the calorie reduction left me without energy. I also had a brief 'mourning' for the
cheeseburgers and fries I'd no longer be eating."
Best post-surgical benefits: "I feel so much more energetic and am so much more active than before. I can play sports again! Heck, we're planning a ski trip for this winter; I haven't been able to ski in I don't know how long. There was a time when I worried that I might not be around that long for my wife and sons, but now I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be here for a while."