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BRYAN BARIATRIC ADVANTAGE

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lthough not a quick fix for obesity, weight loss surgery can be a dramatic turning point in the lives of people who are dangerously overweight. Also known as “bariatric” surgery, weight loss surgery includes several types of procedures to help patients feel satisfied with less food. These surgeries, which include gastric bypass, gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy, can be appropriate for people who are at least 100 pounds overweight and have a body mass index rating of 35 or more, with or without health problems related to their excess weight. Before being considered for weight loss surgery, candidates must have worked to lose weight by diet and exercise, and they have to undergo a thorough medical examination. General and bariatric surgeon Benjamin Hung, MD, of Surgical Associates, performed sleeve gastrectomy surgery on Phillip Oelschlager in 2015. “I was very overweight,” Phillip says, “and despite many attempts, I’d never reached a healthy weight or maintained a significant weight loss.” This Crete Area Medical Center paramedic lost nearly 180 pounds during the six months after his surgery, with ongoing support from family, friends and

the Bryan Bariatric Advantage Program. “As a paramedic, I have an active job and a very active work environment, and that motivated me to lose weight,” Phillip says. “Also, as a health care professional, I knew I was at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and other medical problems because of the extra weight I was carrying.” He adds, “It’s important to understand that bariatric surgery is a tool rather than an end in itself. “To be successful at losing the weight and keeping it off, you have to completely accept that you’ll do a ton of additional work to change lifestyle habits that caused your weight gain in the first place.” Dr. Hung agrees. “As Phillip says, surgery is only part of the picture. Patients typically lose weight over a one-to-twoyear period after surgery, but have to make significant, lasting changes in their diet and exercise habits to maintain that weight loss over the long term,” he says. “That’s why, at the Bryan Bariatric Advantage Program, we offer lifelong services to help our patients maintain their weight loss. This includes ongoing support groups, diet and exercise classes, and regular physician examinations over at least a five-year period. “The reasons people have trouble losing weight are many and varied, so the Bryan Bariatric Advantage team

Bryan’s Bariatric Advantage Program offers lifelong services to our patients to help them maintain their weight loss, say Dr. Benjamin Hung and Pam Wolfe, APRN. To learn more about weight loss options, contact the Bryan Bariatric Advantage program by calling 402-481-5454, or go to bryanhealth.org/bariatrics.

thoroughly evaluates each patient’s medical condition, diet and exercise habits to identify individual causes and help them work through these problems.” “Fortunately, medical problems such as hormone imbalances are actually quite rare — they happen in only about 2 percent of patients,” says Pam Wolfe, APRN. “High caloric intake and reduced exercise are the most common causes of weight gain, which is very good news, because these factors can be changed. We know, though, that people require lots and lots of support, information and encouragement to make these changes permanent, so that’s what we provide at Bryan Bariatric Advantage.” She notes, “Some patients struggle with a little ‘up and down’ in their weight during the first year or so after bariatric surgery, but they should definitely not feel discouraged. This doesn’t signify failure, but rather that they should come back to us for the support they need, and to identify diet and exercise changes that can get them back on track.” “This has definitely been a process,” says Phillip, “but I’m now well on my way to my target weight, and I feel confident that with the ongoing support of Bryan and my friends and family I can maintain a healthy weight for the rest of my life. “A great thing is that, in addition to having more energy at work, my life is better in many other ways. Where I was constantly tired and worn down, I’m now more upbeat and optimistic. I also sleep better and feel good when I get up in the morning. And I’m happier, which has paid some real dividends in my friendships and relationships. Overall, I have a sense of satisfaction, and I’m absolutely more able to enjoy my life now. “I didn’t know how bad I felt until I lost all that weight,” he says. “I feel so much better now.” n

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