Staying put at home due to COVID-19? It’s the perfect time to take the first step toward achieving your weight loss goals. Preparing for bariatric surgery takes some time, and now, patients can complete the entire process from home.
Start by taking the informational seminar (required) online. You can click the blue button—Take Your Online Seminar. After that, we will schedule your first appointment with the doctor “virtually.” And all classes that are part of the preparation process can be completed online. It’s really that easy!
Thinking about weight loss surgery? At the top of your “to do” list is choosing the very best hospital—and an experienced medical team. At MedStar Health, we’ve been successfully performing weight loss surgery—also called bariatric surgery—for decades. Our team’s experience and expertise translates into your positive outcome—and improved quality of life.
We put you at the center of our care and provide all the information you need to better understand your treatment options and make a full recovery.
The aircraft mechanic says he has been heavy his whole life. A U.S. Navy veteran, Paul had to lose weight in order to join the military at age 17. He served eight years before being honorably discharged for failure to meet body composition standards. Decades later, the father of two and grandfather of seven reached his heaviest point: 467 pounds.
Knee pain made walking difficult and painful. He stopped shopping in stores. Sleep apnea prevented Paul from getting adequate rest — especially challenging given his night-shift schedule. And there was the mental pain, too: stares and comments from strangers.
Previous attempts at weight loss had been unsuccessful. And traveling to medical centers in Washington, D.C., to explore surgical options and find support was inconvenient for the California, Md.-based mechanic.
Through Health Connections at MedStar St. Mary’s, Paul met with a dietitian and committed to eating smaller portions that are high in protein, low in carbohydrates. His goal was to get prepared — physically and mentally — for the sleeve gastrectomy that would be performed by Nicholas Tapazoglou, MD.
Paul became the first patient to undergo bariatric surgery at MedStar St. Mary’s in October 2017. After one night in the hospital, he was sent home with a smaller stomach — and new lease on life. Now a self-professed food “label reader,” he pays close attention to protein and carbohydrate content. He still eats three meals a day, but they’re 4 ounces of lean, healthy foods, with protein shakes in between.
Gone are the medications he was taking to combat high blood pressure and depression. His knee pain has disappeared. Weight loss has also lessened the pressure on Paul’s airways; he has not used a BiPAP machine for sleep apnea since last fall.
“I feel great,” said Paul. Considering the advice he would give others thinking about this “life-changing” procedure, he advised, “Make sure your mind is straight. You have to be ready to do this mentally. The surgery is just a tool; if you don’t use the tool right, you’re not going to get the job done.”
How did David succeed when so many fail?
He followed in the footsteps of his wife, Keesha Matthews-Williams, and underwent weight-loss surgery with Dr. John Brebbia, Medical Director of the highly recognized bariatric surgery program at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center.
For the truly obese—defined by a body mass index of 40, or approximately 100 pounds overweight—it’s often the only way to lose the fat that threatens their health and well-being.
“I’ve always struggled with my weight, even when I was in my 20s and doing some modeling,” Keesha says. “I went through years of yo-yo dieting, where I’d drop 15 pounds only to gain back 30. Nothing worked.”
Instead, the pounds piled on her 5-foot-6-inch frame. By the time she reached 40, Keesha weighed 243 pounds. Borderline diabetic and depressed, she realized the extra weight was exacting an emotional as well as physical toll.
With nothing to lose but the weight, Keesha investigated her options. After attending a bariatric surgery seminar, she made an appointment to see Dr. Brebbia.
“He listened to me without judgement,” she says. “I could tell he was genuinely concerned about my health. I knew he was the right doctor for me.”
After going through MedStar Montgomery’s preoperative evaluation, counseling and weight management program, Keesha had a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy in September 2015, which reduced her stomach to about 15% of its original size. Over the next 12 months, she lost 100 pounds and her blood sugar levels returned to normal.
“The health benefits that accompany weight loss are what drives us,” Dr. Brebbia explains. “And bariatric surgery has proven to be highly effective at correcting and even eliminating diabetes, which can be very difficult-to-manage medically. In fact, we often see improvements within just a few weeks.”
After seeing his wife’s success, David decided to investigate the possibility of bariatric surgery for himself. Standing 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing 320 pounds, he was burdened by his own growing list of weight-related grievances.
“I couldn’t even bend over to tie my shoes without getting out of breath,” says the former military man, who had once been a toned 185 pounds. “I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and was pre-diabetic. On top of that, I had bad sleep apnea, and would often wake up with my heart pounding, gasping for breath.”
On January 6, 2017, David had the same sleeve gastrectomy procedure that Keesha had. Since then, he’s dropped 130 pounds and counting. His health problems have disappeared.
“I’m just ecstatic,” he says. “Dr. Brebbia probably saved my life.”
Today, both David and Keesha follow a healthy diet and exercise program. David swims daily, while Keesha takes Zumba, other classes, and choose to take the stairs whenever she can. They admit it’s a change from their former lifestyle, but neither would have it any other way.
“Weight-loss surgery is definitely not ‘the easy way out,’ Keesha says. “It’s just a tool and part of the process of becoming the best version of ‘you’. But if you put in the work, you’ll get the results.”
Linda Blackwell gained weight with every pregnancy, and she was unable to take it back off. She was ultimately diagnosed with high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, and diabetes. When she decided to take action, Linda’s cardiologist recommended MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
When Ellen Wells decided to explore bariatric surgery to lose weight, her primary goal wasn’t to look good or fit into a smaller pair of jeans. Rather, she wanted to put an end to her diabetes, which had been controlling her life since her diagnosis more than 20 years earlier.
“I was taking six shots of insulin every day,” says Ellen. “I weighed 245 pounds and could hardly stand or walk, so I had to stop working. And my family and social life was hampered because I didn’t feel good about myself. Being that heavy literally disabled my body, mind, and spirit.”
At the recommendation of her primary care physician, Ellen registered for a free bariatric education class at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. It was here that she first met Christopher You, MD. He spoke at length about the various surgical options available, including gastric bypass surgery, which has proven to be effective in helping to improve diabetes. She also learned that Dr. You performs all of his surgeries using robotic technology.
Today, a little over two years since Ellen had gastric bypass surgery, every single aspect of her life is different and better. She’s lost nearly 100 pounds. She’s running, bicycling, and taking part in fun activities with her daughter. And she no longer travels with a bag of insulin shots in tow. Her diabetes is gone!
Ironically, the place where Ellen spends a good portion of her time these days is in the kitchen. With a life-long passion and talent for baking, inherited from her mother, she is building a new career as a pastry chef. She completed her associate’s degree in baking and pastry arts at Stratford University, and now, she has the physical energy and endurance it takes to do the work she loves.
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