Pat Unger has been in the shoes of every patient who opts for a gastric bypass. Once weighing 326 pounds, she dealt with the embarrassment of not fitting into seats and needing plus-size clothing.
Her life forever changed at the age of 48, deciding it was time to control her diet forever, with surgery in 2002.
Three days after surgery, Pat was home and trying to learn to eat tiny portions of foods that wouldn't make her sick.
"It's a trial and error because your pouch is so small after the surgery, it's about the size of a golf ball," says Unger.
Sandi Anklam has lost 90 pounds since her surgery five months ago and says she's actually developed an aversion to some foods. The biggest benefit so far besides the weight loss is that she's gone off of her blood pressure medications and improved her sleep apnea.
Anklam says, "I feel so much better about every aspect of my life that I can't imagine ever going back."
That's what Pat says she hears in her support groups all the time, that even despite complications they'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Dr. Matthew Johnson performed both women's surgeries. He says patients who don't have ideal results are those who don't follow the nutritional guidelines following surgery.
"Even if you eat the same amount of protein you used to, you won't absorb the same amount so you can still get deficient eating what you ate before," says Johnson.
His best candidates for surgery are also highly motivated to get active and realize it's not a quick fix.
For Debbie Seefeldt, with a history of family heart problems, she knew her own health hinged on weight loss, but surgery just didn't seem to give her the personal reward that accomplishing weight loss on her own has. She lost 235 pounds working out and following her own nutrition program.
Dr. Johnson says he'd rather not perform any surgery if a patient is capable of weight loss naturally. He says it often takes a long time for patients to accept their new appearance after surgery, which is why the American Society for Bariatric Surgery strongly advises patients to talk with others who can share their experiences.
Most insurance companies are beginning to require a wait period of six to 12 months while they study the needs of each potential gastric bypass patient.
You can be a part of the Wausau Area Bariatric Support Group by calling Pat at 715-675-3592. If workouts are your method of choice, contact the station and we'll get you in touch with Debbie Seefeldt who'd love to help motivate you boomers!