Ocean Resident Undergoes Transformation Following Weight-Loss Surgery
For a self-proclaimed emotional eater like Sally Dillon, 52, of Ocean, the decision to undergo bariatric surgery for weight loss was an extremely difficult one. At 6-feet tall and with a body mass index of 57 – a number putting her in the super morbidly obese category – she knew the process would be a significant lifestyle change, and she wanted to do it the right way.
Initially, Sally began attending new patient weight loss lecture sessions and support group meetings at Monmouth Medical Center for those considering weight loss surgery to seek guidance. Due to requirements from her insurance company, Sally also began meeting with Samar (Sam) Habiby, MPH, a Registered Dietitian at Monmouth’s Weight Loss Institute of New Jersey.
Through her work with Sam, Sally began losing weight, but after 15 months, she still had a ways to go.
“It was a big decision for me to determine if I wanted to go through the risk of the procedure. I went to a number of the support group meetings at Monmouth Medical Center before and after making my decision,” says Sally. “I liked being around people who were in the same boat and there’s a big mental piece to WLS and how to deal with a new way of eating. This isn’t anything anyone should take lightly.”
It was then Sally met with Steven J. Binenbaum, M.D., FACS, weight loss and minimally invasive surgeon at Monmouth Medical Center, to discuss surgical options.
“I suffered from hypertension, high cholesterol and gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD). I also had a lot of weight to lose. Dr. Binenbaum explained the options and percentagewise, I’d lose more with the bypass. It was also a better solution for GERD. This was a one-shot deal for me, and I wanted to get it right,” said Sally.
“Gastric bypass, often called the ‘gold standard’ of bariatric surgery, involves dividing the stomach, resulting in restriction of the amount of food you can eat, and rerouting the digestive system, resulting in malabsorption of certain vitamins, minerals and iron,” said Dr. Binenbaum. “Surgically changing the anatomy is what ultimately creates the weight loss and resolution of certain co-morbid conditions, typically type 2 diabetes, hypertension, GERD and sleep apnea.”
In performing the surgery, Dr. Binenbaum made small incisions in Sally’s abdomen. He then inserted a tiny camera, or laparoscope, and thin surgical instruments through the incisions to perform the surgery – allowing for a faster recovery.
Gastric bypass surgery patients lose between zero to two pounds per week, which can average up to 80-85% of excess weight in over the next 12 – 24 months after surgery.
Just more than two years post-surgery, Sally did get it right. She successfully lowered her BMI to 24 and now wears a size 4/6, down from a size 34. She continues to attend support group meetings, incorporate exercise to her life on a daily basis, a habit she started while working with Sam before she had surgery
“I thought it was important to continue meeting with Sam,” says Sally, who still meets with Sam monthly. “It was a huge lifestyle change for me. Having the ability to touch base with someone that cares and understands what you’re going through really helps me. That’s also why I enjoy going to the group meetings – I’ve made so many good friends there. It’s amazing to see people shrink in front of your eyes and blossom.”
Sally’s weight loss and bypass procedure were so successful, she even recently underwent a tummy tuck and body lift to remove excess skin with plastic surgeon Aaron Capuano, M.D. When she expressed to Dr. Capuano she hoped to lose an additional 20 pounds, she was shocked at his response.
“He said to me, ‘you don’t have any fat on your stomach, you are thin’ – I was so surprised. I’ve never had anyone, let alone a doctor, say that to me before. If I lose any more weight, it’s just from exercising and eating right, which is something I actually enjoy doing now!”
For Sally, surgery was just a tool and certainly not the easy way out.
“I still had to change the way I was eating, exercising and thinking, but the surgical team was there any time I had issues. Through the whole process, Dr. Binenbaum , Dr. Borao and the entire staff were wonderful. They always explained what was going on. Any time I had an issue that was related, they were very concerned and kind,” said Sally.
Following Sally’s tummy tuck, Dr. Binenbaum stopped by to check in on her. “I didn’t even know he knew I was there. It’s amazing actually. I was just one of so many patients he had, more than two years ago at that, and he continues to keep track.”
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