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Photographer Focuses on Weight Loss Success with Bariatric Surgery

Tennova Healthcare testimonial copyDavid Roberts is another bariatric surgery success story. Long-time readers of Everything Knoxville may recognize David’s company name of D. Roberts Photography from the various photo credits; most notably on the majority of cover images during the past four years. As “one of our own” so to speak, we thought that featuring his bariatric surgery experience as part of this month’s cover story was only fitting.

On August 28, 2013, David underwent the vertical sleeve gastrectomy bariatric procedure, or more commonly known as the “gastric sleeve.” The laparoscopic surgery was performed by K. Robert Williams, MD, FACS.

The catalyst for David’s decision to undergo the procedure was his wife, Fran, an Emergency Department Registered Nurse, telling him of the New Life Center for Bariatric Surgery’s move to the hospital where she is employed. David was immediately interested. He had struggled with his weight for decades, trying various diets and exercise programs. But he had fallen into the same old pattern of “yo-yo dieting” that always resulted in some weight loss but invariably ended up with the lost weight gained back; usually at a level that was even greater than when he started. During one period of 2012, he had peaked at just over 300 pounds, so he was strongly motivated to deal with the ongoing problem.

“It was more than passed time for a change,” he said.

In December 2012, David attended a free introductory seminar hosted by New Life. After the seminar, he met with his family doctor to get a physical and begin the six-month medically-supervised diet required by his insurance provider. The physical revealed that David had developed type 2 diabetes sometime early in 2012. That disturbing discovery, coupled with the fact that he already suffered from sleep apnea and was on CPAP therapy, just added to his determination to move forward with the surgery. When he started the supervised diet, he was at 287 pounds.

After the initial consultation with Dr. Williams, it was determined that David would undergo the gastric sleeve surgery. The six months went by quickly, and the surgery was scheduled for August 28. On August 14, he started a two-week, very low-calorie diet of high protein, low-carb foods acquired from New Life for the purpose of reducing the size of his liver to make the surgery easier to accomplish in a less crowded abdominal space.

The surgery was performed on a Wednesday. By Friday afternoon, David was at home. Following the procedure, he had a zero-complication recovery. He had to use almost none of the prescribed drugs that were sent home with him to counter what can be consequences of the surgery, such as pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. There were only four tiny incisions in his abdomen – three for the laparoscopic tools and where the portion of the stomach was removed and one for a drain. All healed very quickly, and his pain was minimal.

“I only took the liquid pain meds for three nights after coming home, and even then I really didn’t need to,” said David. “It was more to hedge my bet to sleep well.”

The consequences of the surgery were significant. David is now diabetes-free. With the gastric sleeve, between 70 to 75% of the stomach is permanently removed. As David puts it, “It’s as if I have a built-in portion control because of the altered anatomy of a tiny stomach.”

Another benefit also resulted from the removal. The majority section of the stomach that was excised is the portion that produces the hormone grehlin, which is considered the “I’m hungry hormone” that signals the brain to eat especially high-calorie foods.

“I don’t have the hunger pangs I used to have before the surgery,” said David. “I get hungry, of course, but I don’t feel the overpowering urge to eat. It’s like having another built-in feature – an appetite suppressant – which is great!”

David stuck to the regimented plan for the first six months following the surgery that prescribed a diet and exercise routine that was broken into three phases of one month, one month, and four months. Each progressive phase relaxed some of the restrictions on what he could and could not eat and how much. By the sixth month mark in mid-February 2014, he had lost an amazing 115 pounds to bring him down to 172 pounds and was cleared for Phase Four, which is an eating and exercise regimen that he will stick to for the rest of his life.

David believes he has been this successful for two reasons.

“One, it was something that I really wanted to do and was more than ready for,” he said. “I was very tired of fighting with my weight, so I was highly motivated.”

That motivation explains his second reason.

“I am a compliant patient,” he said. “I’ve done – and continue to do – what I’ve been told to do from the very beginning. My thought is… these are the experts with years of experience who know exactly what I have to do in order to be successful. It would be foolish of me not to follow their instructions.”

The end results speak for themselves, and David sums it up nicely when he says, “At fifty-two, my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.”

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