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Healthwise: Weight Loss Surgery

May 16, 2012

If you're having trouble losing some extra weight by only dieting and exercising, Charlottesville doctors say it may be time to think about weight loss surgery

It has been two years since Buckingham County resident Chasity Leighty decided to go through with Bariatric surgery.

"I was 274 pounds and I think it was the pictures-looking at the pictures of my image of myself was definitely not what came out in those pictures. I was a lot bigger girl," said Leighty.

It wasn't just the physical appearance that concerned Leighty; she also had a 1-year-old.

"I wasn't able to get down and play with her and going to stores I was never able to find my size. I just got really depressed," remembers Leighty.

This realization is what fueled Leighty to go to Martha Jefferson Hospital to find out her options, and whether or not she was eligible for weight loss surgery.

"The ideal candidate is usually at least 100 pounds overweight and they are also suffering comorbidities or other things that are wrong with them because of their weight. These things include: hypertension, sleep apnea, or diabetes," said Dr. Katherine Trahan, a doctor at the Martha Jefferson Bariatric Care Center.

Dr. Trahan says patients have a few options when it comes to Bariatric surgery. The first option that Martha Jefferson offers is Gastric Bypass which is basically a reconstruction of the stomach to make it smaller and hold less food. Another option is Gastric Banding which is putting a plastic girdle around the top of the stomach so you can't eat as much, and what you do eat keeps you fuller longer. This Gastric Banding is what Leighty opted for.

"About six months of getting my band tightened, I started losing pretty quickly. It was a pound or two a week. I was always stepping on the scales and seeing it get a little bit lower," said Leighty.
Doctors do note that the surgery isn't a quick fix, saying that once you are a patient, you are a lifetime patient.

"We're going to work with you every single month," said Dr. Trahan.

With the surgery, diet, and exercise, Leighty has successfully lost 100 pounds.

"I did the measurements from the beginning and sometimes I thought I hadn't lost any weight. Then I would pull out that tape measure and I really had lost a couple more inches. I was like 'yes"-this was my key to success: measuring and keeping myself accountable," said Leighty.

Doctors say weight loss surgery can help with other medical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, however the surgery does come with risks. They advise that you should talk to your doctor about which option is best for you.

Martha Jefferson is holding an information session for those who may be interested in learning more about Bariatric surgery. The session is Friday May 18 at 1:00p.m. To register for this free event, call Health Connection at 434-654-7009.

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