Battle of the Bulge

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  • Rhonda Mayberry’s excess weight had become an unbearable burden. At about 5’2” and 399 pounds, she suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure and extreme lack of mobility. The pounds weren’t coming off with diets. In 2008, she and her doctor decided surgery was the right option.

    Now, three years after gastric bypass surgery and 240 pounds lighter, the 48-year-old has a new lease on life. She’s off her diabetes and blood pressure medications and is moving around with ease. “My energy level is through the roof, my thinking and outlook are better and I’m not handicapped like I was before,” she says.

    Mayberry isn’t saying it was easy. It took her years to overcome her fear of surgery. Following the procedure, her body required weeks of special meals and bed rest to heal. She also worried about other people’s expectations to the point that only her mother and sister knew about the surgery beforehand. But the support of her family and OSU Medical Center’s Comprehensive Weight Management Program at the Center for Wellness and Prevention (CWP) helped her move forward.

    Individualized treatment

    No matter what your weight loss goals may be, the Comprehensive Weight Management Program has the personalized surgical and nonsurgical programs to help. A team of diet, exercise and stress management professionals are on board to help navigate the challenges with a total-health approach.

    Individuals with less than 100 pounds to lose can often do well with a nonsurgical program focused on nutrition, behavior and diet, says Shirley Kindrick, PhD, RD, LD, team leader at the CWP. “We’ve found that just a 10-percent weight loss can help you reduce and even get off medications for weight-related disease.” The OSU Comprehensive Weight Management Program offers various programs combining weight loss, nutrition and stress management to meet individual needs.

    For those with more than 100 pounds to lose, surgery may be the best decision, says Mayberry’s surgeon, Bradley Needleman, MD, FACS, director of the OSU Bariatric Surgery Program. “Bariatric surgery is an option when diet, exercise and lifestyle programs either don’t work or when you can’t maintain the weight loss,” he says. “It can result in significant long-term weight loss, remission of diabetes and high blood pressure and a lowered risk of cancer, heart disease and early death. African-Americans are currently under-represented for bariatric surgery. But the message is that this is a safe and effective way to solve some serious medical problems in those with more than 100 pounds to lose.” Bariatric surgery patients generally lose from 70 to 80 percent of their excess body weight.

    Dr. Needleman and his team perform three types of bariatric surgery: gastric bypass, LAP-BAND and sleeve gastrectomy. These either reduce stomach size or bypass the stomach altogether to limit the amount of food the patient can eat or absorb at one time. “We tailor each one according to the patient’s medical condition and his or her personal needs,” Dr. Needleman says.

    Support Network

    Bariatric surgeries require one-tothree-day hospital stays and one to four weeks at home. All OSU bariatric surgery patients undergo a full medical evaluation and work with a dietitian to make the behavior changes needed before the surgery. They also participate in OSUMC wellness classes. “The wellness class is the best thing to do,” advises Mayberry. “It gets in your mind what you have to do after the surgery. That way your mind gets there before your body does.”

    Mayberry also benefited from the Center for Wellness and Prevention’s twice-monthly weight-loss support group sessions. The group is run by a psychologist and includes pre- and post-weight-loss patients. “The people there understand what you’re going through; they don’t make assumptions or judgments,” she says. “When you’re in an environment like that, you know you’re not alone.”

    Send in the enclosed reply card to receive a Living Well brochure and a bariatric surgery brochure.

    Get the Skinny: We offer free bariatric surgery information sessions at Morehouse Medical Plaza Auditorium. Call 800-293-5123 to register.

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