Feeling Free: One Woman's Weight-Loss Surgery Success Story
Lisa Jacobsen, of Potomac, Maryland, used to have diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. She also used to weigh 280 pounds.
"As I approached age 50, my life expectancy was estimated to be only five more years," Jacobsen says. "I knew I needed to do something drastic."
That "something drastic" was something life-changing: weight-loss surgery. "For Lisa, the risks from her diabetes, poorly controlled high blood pressure and high cholesterol far outweighed the risk from the weight-loss surgery," says Jacobsen's surgeon, Brian M. Cantor, MD, medical director, Bariatric Surgery Program, Holy Cross Hospital.
This information convinced Jacobsen, and she had gastric bypass surgery on July 17, 2006. Today at age 52, Jacobsen has maintained her weight at 135 pounds, wears a size 4 and has none of her previous health conditions. "The only pills I take are vitamins," she says.
A Surgical Solution
Weight-loss surgeons at Holy Cross Hospital specialize in minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, which means they make only small incisions and use specialized instruments via these incisions to perform surgery. This approach results in less pain, a shorter recovery period and fewer complications than a patient might experience in traditional surgery, which requires larger incisions.
Our bariatric surgeons perform the two following weight-loss surgeries:
- Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery creates a shortcut around the portion of the small intestine to bypass the nutrient-absorbing area. This surgery helps in two ways. First it restricts the amount of food that the patient can eat. Second, it alters the patient's ability to digest food.
- Laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery involves implanting an adjustable gastric band that reduces stomach capacity without stapling the stomach or changing normal digestion. The band is filled with saline on its inner surface to create a new, smaller stomach pouch that can hold only a small amount of food. Saline may be removed from the ring to increase the size of the stomach. Weight-loss surgery patients may lose a large amount of weight quickly after surgery. For about half of the patients, the rapid weight loss results in excess abdominal skin. These patients may be candidates for body-contouring plastic surgery to remove the extra skin.
Surgeons at Holy Cross Hospital have been performing weight-loss surgery since 1988 and perform more weight-loss surgical procedures than any other hospital in Montgomery or Prince George's counties. Clinical evidence shows the most experienced and best-run bariatric surgery programs have by far the best outcomes.
"Our program provides comprehensive support and education before, during and after surgery, including support groups and exercise programs," Dr. Cantor says. All of the laparoscopic bariatric surgeons at Holy Cross Hospital meet the qualifications set forth by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. And the hospital has more than 20 years experience helping bariatric patients with an outstanding team of cardiologists, anesthesiologists, pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, interventional radiologists and nutritionists.
"The most important aspect of an excellent bariatric program is the staff and its experience," Dr. Cantor says. "Our staff and their collective experience are phenomenal."
Physician assistants work hand-in-hand with bariatric surgeons during and after surgery. They are available 24 hours a day to help make each patient's hospital stay as smooth and comfortable as possible.
For Jacobsen, the support groups at Holy Cross Hospital were an invaluable resource. "At the pre-operation group, I learned all about the surgery, but the post-operation group was very beneficial to me," Jacobsen says. "I needed to hear from folks who had the surgery what life was like afterward."
"The folks in the support group are a true inspiration and have taught me that if you are totally committed to the program and changing your life, you will be a weight-loss success," Jacobsen says. "When you wear a size 2X, you don't feel like dancing at a wedding. Now I participate in life without being self-conscious."