Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Husband and wife undergo weight loss surgery together

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Around 38% of American adults are obese. A BMI of over 40 can shorten your life expectancy by 15 or more years. The risk for stroke, heart attack and cancer also increases significantly.

“Before all this, I saw 350. My scale said 350 at one time. It’s all a mindset. It really is. You have to determine that you’re going to do it,” said Dave Farrell of Cavour.

And Dave is doing it, along with his wife Rachel.

“We decided we definitely wanted the surgery,” said Rachel.

They both had gastric sleeve bariatric surgery – Dave’s this past December and Rachel’s in October.

“I am done with not taking care of myself. I need to take care myself and my family or else I’m not going to see my family grow,” said Rachel.

Bariatric surgeon Dr. Bradley Thaemert says around 80% of the stomach is removed during a gastric sleeve, turning it into the size of about a banana.

“The part of the stomach that we remove is one of the parts of the stomach that makes a hormone called ghrelin and that’s one of the hormones that tells you you’re hungry. So when you remove that part of the stomach, that hormone goes down and it helps with that hunger feeling,” said Dr. Thaemert.

Dr. Thaemert says patients must lose five to 10% of their body weight before surgery.

“I lost 40 pounds before the surgery,” said Rachel.

“Before I had my surgery, I lost 85 pounds,” said Dave.

That’s where Integrative Medicine comes into play, providing bariatric patients with the tools they need to be as healthy as possible before surgery.

“Part of that is to make the better long-term success after the surgery because the surgery’s typically the easy part. It’s kind of the lifestyle changes that you have to have to make this surgery work.

Dr. Thaemert says because the stomach is so small after weight loss surgery, it’s uncomfortable to overeat.

“So you get that negative feedback right away if you overeat which you don’t get when you’re just trying to do a diet. It’s really hard to eat a small amount because you’re still hungry and want more. With the weight loss surgeries, if you overeat, it usually hurts,” said Dr. Thaemert.

“You feel it go down and you feel it go through into your stomach. But if you’ve put too much into your system, you feel it sitting there too. So it’s really, really important to keep small bites, small quantities to go in so it doesn’t come back up,” said Dave.

Dave and Rachel are supporting each other on this life-changing journey – Rachel having already lost 45 pounds since her surgery in October.

“The results help a lot. When I get on the scale, even after Christmas and I’ve lost weight, it’s kind of like yes, yes I can do this,” said Rachel.

“Bariatric surgery is a big step and it is a lifestyle change. But if you want to be around for your kids and walk your daughter down the aisle, you need to do something because some day you may not be and this is going to prevent a lot of things from happening,” said Dave.

Since last February, Dave has lost a total of 117 pounds and Rachel has lost 85 pounds.

Dr. Thaemert says weight loss surgery is meant for people who have a BMI of 40 or higher which is usually about 100 pounds overweight. If someone has significant medical conditions related to their obesity, weight loss surgery can be done on someone with a BMI of 35 or higher.

For more information, just call 877-AT-AVERA.