Outfox Fat

Bariatric

Find freedom from obesity

Feel trapped in layers of heaviness and poor health? Bariatric surgery is a powerful tool to set you free.

The surgery, also called Roux-en-Y gastro-bypass, not only restricts the size of a stomach, but also decreases the hormone that causes the urge to eat. While it doesn’t change genetics, it can add 15 to 25 quality years of life. “People who have the disease of obesity are physiologically wired to hold onto calories,” said Dr. Ray Georgen of Midwest Bariatric Solutions, ThedaCare’s bariatric partner. “We try to outfox that in bariatric surgery.”

Make the choice

If you think bariatric surgery is an “easy way out,” guess again. It’s a significant health decision and commitment, often taking months or years to determine whether it’s right for you. Before surgery, 40-year-old Beth Gore Helker of Black Creek struggled with diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and more than a dozen prescription medications because of her obesity.

“For me, it was about health and quality of life,” she said. “I went to a seminar and a bariatric support group meeting, and discovered the procedure wasn’t scary. The risks seemed minimal compared to the life I’d been living.”

In for the long haul

Beth took counseling and lifestyle courses prior to her 2009 surgery as a requirement of the program. Bariatric patients — and their care team — make a 5-year commitment to the process. “As surgeons, we’re used to seeing people, cutting out the problem, and then we’re done. This is different. We’re there for the long-term,” said Dr. Kevin Wasco, also of Midwest Bariatrics.

“It’s unlike any other operation we do,” said Dr. Georgen. “Being onboard mentally about what’s expected and what you have to do afterwards is very important. We provide team support every step of the way.”

Before, during and after the surgery, team members guide and instruct:

  • Bariatric Life Skills coaches – lead an 8-week pre-surgery program
  • Nutritionist – advises about vitamins, diet and food journals
  • Exercise therapists – oversee exercises
  • Nurse practitioners – care for you after the surgery
  • Surgeons – perform the procedure
  • Support staff – help you navigate the process

Freedom!

Two days after her surgery, Beth left the hospital with normal blood sugars and blood pressure, and none of her old medications! Within weeks, she’d lost weight, and in two months, she was back on her treadmill and bike. Her diabetes and sleep apnea were gone. “It was freeing,” she said. “I felt lighter than the weight I’d lost. Not having the burden of food is amazing.”

ThedaCare’s Midwest Bariatrics partnership at Theda Clark Medical Center is a Center of Excellence for bariatrics, meaning we have the expertise and proven results to provide the best care. The program also was one of the first in the country to do bariatric surgery laparoscopically, with only a few small incisions. Its cure rates for patients two years after surgery surpass national averages:

Cured

Condition

National Average

ThedaCare/Midwest Bariatrics Average

Type 2 Diabetes

(Reductions in medications)

82%

92%

Sleep Apnea

(Off of Cpap and Bipap)

86%

93%

High Blood Pressure

(Reduction in medications)

72%

92%

Acid Reflux

(No symptoms)

87%

95%

A new life!

Beth is grateful for her family and the bariatric support groups, which offer lifestyle guidance for post-surgical patients and host a clothing exchange for people who are dropping a size every other week. This summer, she attended the group with a co-worker who’s also considering surgery.

“I cannot stress enough how wonderful the surgery is and how medically necessary it is for many people,” Beth said. “It’s been three years, and I still find joy in it every day. When I put on my seatbelt, I think ‘I couldn’t do this three years ago.’ I get excited when I sit on an airplane – I revel in it. This is what keeps me going on days when it’s tough. I also kept some clothes from before my surgery. Now, I can fit both my legs in one side of my old pants!”

Is bariatric surgery for you?

Visit our website to calculate your BMI. If it’s 40 or greater, come to our information seminar on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.