About the UAB Medicine Bariatric Surgery ServicesBariatric, or weight loss surgery, is for people who are morbidly obese and already have tried diets, exercise, and other non-surgical ways to lose weight. UAB Medicine offers two types of bariatric surgery, both of which are designed to help you eat less. Patients must meet certain goals and requirements before surgery can be approved, and usually it requires a serious commitment to making major lifestyle changes. In general, the patient must have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40. Patients with a BMI of at least 35 may qualify if they also have medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, or degenerative joint disease. UAB Medicine’s Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program has been performing weight-loss procedures for more than 30 years. It was the first American College of Surgeons Level 1 Bariatric Surgery Center in Alabama and is designated a Comprehensive Center by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). We are committed to helping you through a combination of surgery, the UAB Weight Loss Medicine Clinic, behavioral therapists, and dietitians.
Bariatric Surgery Gives Janice a Second Chance at Life
|JANICE - BEFORE
||JANICE - AFTER
For me, bariatric surgery was not just a solution, it was a life choice. My reason for having the surgery was to give me a second chance at life. I had been overweight and struggling against weight and depression problems for a long time, and my weight was affecting my health and my ability to live life. It’s something I struggled with for a long time. The death of my mother was the moment I decided I wanted to live life, to see my children and grandchildren grow up. I knew in order for this change to happen I needed to change my life for the better.
I struggled with a lot of medical problems that stemmed from being overweight. I had been diagnosed with diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, back problems and finally heart trouble. I started with diets and gradually moved to medication. No matter how much weight I lost it always came back. The combination of my medical problems and medication was affecting my energy, my mobility, and mostly my ability to live life.
In 2007 I lost my mother. Her death gave me the spark of encouragement that made me want to change my life for the better. I wanted to be able to see my children and great grandchildren grow up, and I knew that if I didn’t change my weight then that couldn’t happen. Once I decided to turn my weight around, I began taking the steps toward approval for surgery. Before I could be a candidate for bariatric surgery, I needed to come off of the medicines I was on. In December of 2007, I completed rehab, but only to find myself subject to heart problems. Finally in the spring of 2009, I was approved for the bariatric surgery.
In 2009, my primary care physician recommended me as a candidate for bariatric surgery. I immediately began the process for insurance qualification. In October of 2009, I was approved. On December 15, 2009, Dr. Jayleen Grams performed my gastric bypass surgery at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, AL.
I wasn’t worried about having the surgery. I knew that I needed something major to change my life so that I felt like I was living again. The scary thing for me was not being able to live. I knew if I did everything Dr. Grams told me to do that the surgery would be a success.
Just the idea of a successful surgery kept me optimistic during the entire process. Once I was released from the hospital, my recovery began. I had some complications post-op. I had a staple that had come loose, but Dr. Grams quickly fixed it and the road to recovery began again.
As soon as I got home from the hospital, my weight loss began. I lost between 20 and 25 pounds a month. After the first couple of months, my weight loss slowed to around two to three pounds a week. At 15 months, I reached my program goal of 130 pounds. To date, I’ve lost 147 pounds, and my body mass index has dropped from 44.2 to 21. My blood pressure got better, and I regained strength and energy that I didn’t know I had. My diabetes and heart troubles have disappeared. Losing the weight would not have been possible without the wonderful support groups I attended. I go to one to two support groups a month.
Having the surgery has been a blessing. Before, I wasn’t able to walk a few steps without running out of breath, but now I’m able to run with my grandchildren. I even go kayaking with my youngest son. Being able to look in the mirror and not cry anymore leaves me speechless. I don’t feel the need to refuse to see what my reflection looks like. I’m almost completely off of medications other than my gastric vitamins. I expected the surgery to change my life, but I never thought that I would have the life I do now.
I’m living a healthy life, and I enjoy living again. I’m not held in the prison of my bed any longer.
My advice to anyone looking to have gastric bypass is to think about the reasons you’re having surgery. Surgery shouldn’t be looked at as an instant fix. The qualification process alone can take several months. You should think about how your life will change before and after having gastric bypass. You shouldn’t look at gastric bypass as a go-to solution, but instead as a stepping stone to help you reach those long term goals that you have for yourself.
Surgery is just one step in the process. You should make sure that you follow the proper procedures so that you don’t end up in the same condition where you started. A key to helping you know what to look forward to and to learn what you need is to utilize support groups. You can ask pre- and post-op patients questions to help you learn what to expect.
As long as you follow the proper steps, gastric bypass can be a wonderful tool to help you live a better life. It, along with the program, will help you maintain your health. It reduced my health problems and gave me back years of my life. It has given me a second chance at a better life for me and my family.