Anyone who watches television these days has seen more than their fair share of commercials promoting weight loss programs. Weight seems to be on the minds of many these days, and rightly so, given the risk factors associated with obesity.
“Robeson County is one of the counties with the highest BMI [body mass index] in the state of North Carolina,” said Dr. Eric Velazquez, of Southeastern Weight Loss Center and Southeastern Surgical Center. “Aside from dealing with the daily challenges of obesity, people find themselves affected by the co-morbidities associated with this condition. This reason makes patients and their primary care physicians seek an adequate solution to such a devastating disease.”
Cindy Masse, of Rowland, is no stranger to struggles with weight. Although she has always enjoyed exercising, she was never able to maintain a healthy weight.
“I read where some 90 percent of people that lose weight gain it back,” Masse said. “This really motivated me to find a more permanent solution to my weight issues.”
This motivation prompted Masse to attend an information seminar on surgical weight loss options. During the seminar, Velazquez, a surgeon with fellowship training in bariatric surgery, explained several different types of weight loss surgeries and the benefits and precautions that went with each procedure.
While Masse entertained having the lap band procedure for some time, she ultimately decided, along with. Velazquez, that the sleeve gastrectomy procedure was best for her, taking into account her history and lifestyle.
“Bariatric or weight-loss surgery has shown over the years to be the most successful treatment for morbid obesity,” said Velazquez. “Among the existent surgical options is sleeve gastrectomy, which is the reduction of the size of the stomach by 75 to 80 percent using small incisions.”
Since her surgery in September 2012, Masse has lost close to 50 pounds and is continuing to lose weight at a steady pace. She is well on her way to achieving her goal of losing 80 pounds by her one-year surgery date anniversary.
“I have to remember that I can’t eat like I used to,” said Masse. “Out of a plate of food — five or six bites — and I am full. While I still crave certain foods, I just don’t feel hungry anymore.”
According to Velazquez, the sleeve gastrectomy procedure reduces the capacity the stomach can hold and, paired with lifestyle and dietary modifications, can enable patients to achieve an excess weight loss of 59 to 62 percent. Patients typically leave the hospital two days following the surgery and are able to eat any type of food as long as it is in keeping with their weight loss plan.
“Not only have I reduced the amount of food that I eat, but I also work out five to six days per week,” Masse said. “I do some type of cardio workout every time I exercise and mix and match other types of exercise such as light weights, yoga and circuit training.”
Since having the weight loss surgery, Masse has seen a number of improvements in her health.
“My blood pressure and cholesterol are normal now and I no longer have sleep apnea,” said Masse.
Following bariatric surgery, several of the conditions associated with obesity are either greatly improved or completely resolved. Among these conditions are type II diabetes, acid reflux, sleep apnea, hypertension and high cholesterol.
Masse says, since her surgery, she often has to resist the urge to tell strangers that she encounters who may be dealing with weight issues about the benefits of the surgery.
“I know there are people who have been struggling like I have and I feel as though they don’t realize how important it is to take the step to look into weight loss surgery and change their lives,” Masse said. “This one procedure can save your life.”
To find out more about surgical weight loss options, including sleeve gastrectomy, contact the Southeastern Weight Loss Center, an affiliate of Southeastern Health, at 910-608-0307.
Amanda L. Crabtree is coordinator of Public Relations at Southeastern Health.