Gastric Bypass Surgery with Before and After
Hey world! My name is Sunshine & I’m from Philadelphia, PA. In September 2015 when I was 27, I went to my primary doctor for my annual appointment. My check up was a wake up call when I discovered I was over 330 lbs., had high blood pressure, and was newly diagnosed as a diabetic. I have suffered with obesity since I was a child, but my physician explained the urgency in handling my weight problem before I ate myself to death. Being diagnosed as a diabetic was the catalyst for me to embark on a weight loss journey and ultimately look into weight loss surgery. Before leaving I had my doctor refer me a qualified bariatric surgeon.
I was given a list of a few bariatric surgeons in my area, and decided it was time for me to do some “homework”. After thorough research I ultimately decided on Dr. John Meilahn because of his numerous contributions to medical journals and bariatric websites. In addition, the doctor’s surgery success rate was superb, and he had an excellent educational background with over 20 years of professional experience.
Anxiously but with quite excitement, I called Chestnut Hill Hospital to schedule a consultation. Upon calling, the first thing I noticed was how sweet the staff was. From the receptionist, Theresa, to the nutritionist, Carli, to the bariatric coordinator, Laurie, everyone was amazing and I honestly felt like family. (I want to emphasize this point because I had been in contact with other surgeons & their offices WERE NOT like Dr. Meilahn’s.) Also, thank God for great health insurance. Fortunately, I had no out-of-pocket expenses. My insurance covered my procedure completely.
Before my appointment I had a talk with my girlfriend who recently had weight loss surgery because she was suffering from high cholesterol and severe sleep apnea. She was set to have full gastric bypass surgery, but during the surgery the doctor decided on a sleeve gastrectomy. He told her this might happen because of how large she was and he needed to see what her organs looked like. During the surgery he decided that full bypass would be too dangerous, and instead used a gastric sleeve (which makes the stomach smaller). I took this conversation into consideration and made sure to talk to my doctor about this potentially happening to me. (She has lost 75 lbs. since her surgery if you were wondering)
My first appointment with Dr. Meilahn was in December 2015 and we talked about all the different bariatric procedures (how they are performed, expected outcomes, and common Pros & Cons). After he educated me, he explained how my journey would start with my own due diligence. I would have to drop some weight before getting the weight loss surgery. I met with the nutritionist Carly, who is a wonderful ball of energy, on how I could eat clean and stay motivated while doing so.
After some research on what would be best for my situation, I decided to have laparoscopic robot-assisted roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery because it had the highest rate of resolving my diabetes and because at 5’9” and 330 lbs. my BMI was a whopping 49. With the large amount of weight that I had to lose, bypass surgery’s potential benefits far outweighed the risks.
Since my surgery was robot assisted, the liver needed to be small enough for a surgeon to maneuver around it safely to get to the stomach. My high body fat equaled a liver covered in fatty tissue, leading Dr. Meilahn to place me on a liquid diet. The doctor made it clear that on surgery day if the liver size was not reduced the surgery would have to be postponed. This was enough motivation for me to stay on my diet. Although I did have a ton of weak moments where I felt like I just couldn’t do it, Laurie (coordinator) would sit on the phone and talk with me for almost an hour, just to make sure that I was okay and to help motivate me to keep fighting. That is so important because going through this process you will have weak moments where you start to doubt yourself. Prior to beginning the liquid diet, I weighed 310 lbs., and I managed to lose another 10 lbs. and weighed 300 lbs. on the day of surgery (May 1, 2016).
Post-surgery, I was in pain but not excruciating pain. It was kind of like doing way too many crunches or sit-ups. As soon as my anesthesia wore off, I was encouraged to walk the halls and pass gas. Sounds weird but it was necessary to make sure all my “plumbing” was connected right. I was in the hospital overnight (excellent bedside manner) and then discharged the next afternoon.
Within a week, I could return to my everyday routine but making sure to maneuver gingerly. In the first six weeks, I did develop a slight complication and needed to go back to Dr. Meilahn. I had an endoscopy performed because I felt constipated so he went in to dilate my stomach to resolve the discomfort. After that incident, there were no more complications.
I’m now more than a year post-op and I’m 230 lbs. I went from a size 24/26 or 3X to a size 12/14 or medium/large. My goal weight was to be at 190 lbs. so I am still working towards that. But honestly, I am grateful for the 100 lbs. that I have lost so far because I don’t think I would have been able to do it alone. Gastric Bypass is NOT an easy way out contrary to what some may think. This surgery isn’t a magic wand by any means, but it is a great tool if you utilize it properly. You must put in the work, make lifestyle changes, and stay committed to your own continued success to achieve progress! But I am thrilled with my new life and excited to continue my journey and shed my excess weight. Good luck with whatever you choose, but I can say this was the best decision of my life!