Cheryl Wyatt can get down on the floor to play with her grandkids, go for a swim, and fit into an airplane seat.
These are extraordinary changes for the 56-year-old Browerville teacher.
For decades, Cheryl struggled with obesity, but was daunted by the idea of procedures like gastric bypass or a LAP-BAND®. Knowing Lakewood Health System offered bariatric surgery, Cheryl went online to check out her options. She learned about a minimally-invasive procedure called a gastric sleeve.
During the procedure, four to six small incisions are made into the patient’s abdomen and laparoscopic instruments are inserted. The surgeon removes 80 percent of the stomach, and the remaining portion – which is shaped like a banana or “sleeve” – stays connected to the esophagus and small intestines. The smaller stomach causes patients to feel full sooner and less hungry because fewer hunger-causing hormones are secreted. A gastric sleeve has extremely low complication rates.
After talking with her primary care provider Kelly Thompson, Cheryl learned she qualified as a candidate for surgery.
“A gastric sleeve is not a quick fix,” Cheryl said. “My particular insurance required me to meet with a dietitian for six months before surgery. I had a psychiatric evaluation too. The surgery has a greater chance of long-term success if you make lifestyle changes beforehand.”
Although admittedly not excited about having to see a dietitian, Cheryl changed her tune after meeting with Jessica Carter, a dietitian, certified diabetes educator and the bariatric program coordinator. “I always felt like I had Jessica’s support 100 percent,” said Cheryl. “Since the surgery, I’ve chosen to continue working with her because she’s helped me so much!”
“The gastric sleeve is a great option for patients because your lifestyle after the procedure is much more manageable,” explained Jessica. Unlike gastric bypass patients who often take a lot of vitamins or drink protein shakes for the rest of their life, gastric sleeve patients can enjoy typical, healthy foods with far fewer restrictions.
Cheryl lost 15 pounds before her surgery on a Wednesday in February 2017. After two days in the hospital, she was able to go home. She rested for several days, and on Sunday was able to take her dog for a short walk. By the next Wednesday, she was back to teaching. Most patients experience a full recovery in about four to six weeks.
A commitment to exercise and meal-planning is essential: Solid foods must be introduced slowly, as the smaller stomach can’t handle the typical quantity or type of food a patient may be used to eating. It’s common for a patient to lose weight and then gain some back as foods are introduced.
Cheryl has lost 83 pounds, but hasn’t yet “settled” into her final weight. She has an enormous amount of respect and gratitude for the team at Lakewood. “Psychotherapist Maggie Evers was extremely welcoming,” she said. “Dr. Lenz answered every single question and was so easy to talk to; his experience doing the procedure was really important to me. His nurses knew me by sight too – at least until I lost a lot of weight and one of them didn’t recognize me!”
Jessica noted common results other patients experience. “We see a major trend among people with diabetes who can reduce – or even eliminate – their medications after the gastric sleeve. Others don’t have to take blood pressure medication anymore, and many are surprised at how simple, everyday tasks are much easier because of the weight loss.”
Would Cheryl do it all over again? “Absolutely!” she said. “I feel healthy and more like the person that I know. And that’s a really good feeling.”
If you are interested in pursuing bariatric surgery, or want to learn more, we invite you to attend one of our informational seminars. For information on dates, times and locations, please contact us at 218-894-8765.
Click to learn more about the bariatric surgery procedure at Lakewood.