Bariatric Sleeve Success Stories
The success of bariatric surgery depends on several variables. The most important one is the patient. Gastric sleeve failures, if we define failure as not able to loss the desired weight loss, is not common. There is about a 5% chance of a patient not losing the expected 60-70% excessive weight loss within the first 1-2 years. At 5 years, 85% of patients are maintaining good weight loss. The failure rate for the bypass is just as low, but there is a lower recidivism weight at 5 years (about 90% keep the weight off).
I first began doing sleeve gastrostomies in 2008, and that is when I met a patient named Katherine. She had been struggling with her weight since she was a child. She was not 35 years old, and was tired of the yo-yo diets. "I feel dead. I don't want to wait around for this to kill me. I have to do something now," she told me. Weight just over 300 pounds, she was nearly 150 pounds over her ideal weight. She suffered with diabetes over the previous four years and just started insulin because her two other medications by mouth weren't enough anymore. She suffered with severe osteoarthritis in her knees, sleep apnea, and stress urinary incontinence.
I performed a sleeve gastrectomy on Katherine in the first part of 2009. She did great. Within the first year of surgery, she lost 120 pounds. Under 200 pounds, she felt more active and alive. She got off the insulin and one of her pills, taking only half the dose of the other pill. She was very satisfied.
I saw her for her yearly check up the other week. She has kept her weight off. Starting with a body mass index (BMI) over 50, she is now at a BMI of 26 and has kept it there. She is the kind of patient I see all the time. When I asked her how she does it, she told me, "I don't have to think about it that much. I eat healthy, I stay active. I got my life back, and I am going to keep myself healthy this time. It's a second chance!"
Sometimes I have to help people with weight regain after sleeve and loss surgery; but this is not very common despite what the general population might think. And when there is weight gain after bariatric surgery, there are usually several factors that need to be sorted through by dealing with mechanical, educational, and psychological dysfunction. For the most part, obesity surgery is highly successful, safe and effective, and very sustainable.
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