For people struggling to lose weight, bariatric surgery can be the key to a new life
Gina was standing in an elevator, at a crossroads in her life, with no idea what awaited on the other side of those sliding doors. She had just come from her gynecologist’s office, where she had confessed that had become concerned about her weight. A former high-school dancer, Gina had gained weight after becoming pregnant with her first child. Now she was 282 pounds and could no longer fit into a special dress she had bought for an upcoming family wedding. She told the gynecologist, just as she had told herself, that it was time to do something about it. The doctor asked if Gina had ever considered bariatric surgery.
The referral was in Gina’s hand as the elevator doors slid open. And as she walked out, there, directly across the hallway, she could see the office for the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. Gina walked in and made an appointment for two weeks later.
“I still get choked up about it, because it really was a turning point for me,” Gina says. “It was the day that changed my life.”
Today, following her bariatric surgery at AHN, Gina is 59, and 152.lbs—130.lbs lighter than when she walked out of that elevator into her new future. She not only fits better into her favorite clothes, but more importantly, she also feels better about her mental and physical health.
Doctors now understand that obesity impacts every facet of daily life, from restricting your physical movement to impacting your self-image and social life to taking a real physical toll on you body. People that are obese (BMI >40, >35 with at least one-obesity-related medical condition, or 100.lbs over ideal weight) are at greater risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, respiratory disorders, musculoskeletal problems, and even cancer.
But losing weight and then keeping it off is hard. And for many people, like Gina, bariatric surgery and treatments can be a viable path to long-term weight loss that works.
For instance, Shaun was 40 years old and 280.lbs when he decided to start running for the first time since college in an attempt to shed the weight and make himself healthier for his family. But he quickly realized he needed some help to kickstart this massive lifestyle change.
“I went online and found an AHN bariatric information session,” says Shaun. “I was so hesitant. But after the surgery, I lost 100.lbs in eight months. It just came right off.”
The benefits of weight loss surgery include both the short-term effectiveness that Shaun experienced and long-term success, particularly for people who are severely obese and don’t’ see significant weight loss through dieting alone. The surgery is also minimally invasive, ensuring the upmost possible safety and lowest risk of potential complications. Plus, many medical insurance plans partly or completely cover bariatric surgery.
At AHN, patients like Shaun and Gina have access to experienced bariatric board-certified surgeons, diabetes specialists, and medical weight loss professionals—all in one location. The Bariatric and Metabolic Institute’s approach to care focuses not solely on your weight, but also on managing other related health conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes. And when it comes to the actual surgery, the AHN team helps the patient decide on the best solution for their individual circumstances.
Once a plan is chosen, whether its gastric bypass, gastric sleeve surgery, gastric balloon surgery, or bariatric revision, AHN provides comprehensive treatment. This includes:
The decision to undergo bariatric surgery is a deeply personal one. But long-term weight loss and the health benefits that come with it are about much more than just the patient. It’s often about living a better and longer life with the people you care about.
When he first started running after his successful bariatric surgery, Shaun had a special running shirt made. The front read “Why do I run?” The back featured a picture of his children and the answer: “For them.”
“Now that I’ve had the surgery and lost the weight, I can safely say that I’m going to watch my kids grow up,” says Shaun, who now weighs 182.lbs at age 49.
Gina, the woman who stepped off the elevator and into a new life, feels the same way about her experience with bariatric surgery.
“I’m looking forward to enjoying life on my own terms,” she says. “I’ll be there for my family, for my sons. I’ll be there for their families—one day I’m going to be a grandma. I want to travel with my husband when he retires, and just see all the things I wanted to see that I probably would not have.”