Transforming Lives 

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In the battle against obesity and its associated health complications, the South Texas Health System Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery Center has emerged as a beacon of hope. Led by bariatric surgeon Dr. Luis Reyes, who currently serves as the president of the Texas Association for Bariatric Surgery (TABS), the center is making significant strides in improving overall health and quality of life for individuals who struggle with obesity and preventable diseases.

In the United States and Canada, 33.8% of residents are classified as obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This excessive weight negatively impacts our health and quality of life.

Bariatric surgery helps patients achieve substantial weight loss. It is critical in reducing the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

“The focus of this surgery has shifted from a weight loss surgery to a surgery that improves your metabolism. It’s a metabolic surgery,” Dr. Reyes said.

“Overall, we want your metabolism, for patients with metabolic syndrome, to improve their diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”

The benefits of bariatric surgery include weight reduction that alleviates strain on joints, improves mobility, and enhances overall physical well-being. As Dr. Reyes explained, the surgery goes beyond cosmetic effects. Still, it is a proven and effective intervention in reducing the severity of chronic diseases.

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), approximately 580,000 undergo bariatric surgery annually. This surgery is considered effective for severe obesity. Still, Dr. Reyes stressed that it isn’t a quick solution to battling obesity.

This surgery isn’t a quick fix; it’s a starting point that helps patients propel themselves toward making the lifestyle changes necessary to lead a healthy life.

“It is a process. Patients have to maintain their health,” he said.

A patient seeking Bariatric Surgery must follow specific steps to determine if they are a suitable candidate. Some patients will need to see a cardiologist for an evaluation. All patients are sent for a psychological assessment to determine that they do not have an eating disorder. All patients see a dietician to discuss the lifestyle change that will be made during their surgery and weight loss journey.

“First, we decrease the weight, but we really decrease the complications,” Dr. Reyes said.

Bariatric surgery offers numerous benefits, including substantial weight loss and a reduced risk of chronic diseases. Patients must embrace a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, portion control, and ongoing medical follow-up.

Debbie Brennan, a former patient of the STHS Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery Center, underwent surgery in 2021 at 57. Her highest weight was 268 pounds. Following her surgery, she has had a total weight loss of 143 pounds.

In a statement, Debbie expressed having always struggled with her weight. It was a constant cycle of walking, dieting, diet pills, and other weight loss programs.

“Over time, my health was beginning to be affected,” Brennan said. She added that she was experiencing labored breathing and was unable to move around much.

“I was basically inactive,” she said. In 2021, she opted for bariatric surgery to improve her health and decrease her medication to improve her quality of life.

“Since having the surgery, I feel wonderful. I have more energy, I was able to get off my medication, and my health improved tremendously.”

Brennan’s surgery results were not just cosmetic, as Dr. Reyes mentioned. Still, it was also an overall lifestyle change that improved the patient’s health and life.

“What we want is to help patients improve their overall health,” Dr. Reyes said.

“Losing weight and looking better is a consequence of being healthier. That’s what this surgery does.”

 

Selene Guerrero