Life After Gastric Bypass Surgery

Vol. 14, No. 2
Spring 2004

  • Winthrop Ranked #1 in New York State in Angioplasty and at the Top in the State for Open Heart Surgery

  • Winthrop Officially Opens New Heart Surgery Center & Pediatric Inpatient Center

  • Winthrop's New Pediatric Inpatient Center

  • The New Heart Surgery Center

  • NICU Team Helps Smallest Baby Ever Born at Winthrop Defy All Odds

  • Life After Gastric Bypass Surgery

  • New Medication to Treat Severe Asthma Helps Winthrop Patients Breathe, Not Wheeze

  • Winthrop Sets Out to Eliminate Racial, Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare at 3rd Annual Hispanic Health Fair

  • Peer Visitors Provide Hope, Faith to Stroke Patients at Winthrop Stroke Peer Visitor Program First of its Kind on Long Island

  • Diabetes Education Center Celebrates 25th Anniversary

  • New York Dragons Spread Cheer at Winthrop's Pediatric Inpatient Center

  • Golfers Hit the Greens at 19th Annual Winthrop Golf Tournament

  • 'A Night at the Opera' Benefits Winthrop's Kids

  • Insurance... a means for charitable giving

  • Jay's World, The New York Islanders Children's Foundation & Charles B. Wang Foundation Support Winthrop's New Pediatric Inpatient Unitd

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  • Before: Bruce Dimler before the surgery at 393 pounds.
    Overall Health, Emotional Well Being Improve by Leaps and Bounds for Many

    Bruce Dimler has a lot to celebrate these days. In two years, he has lost more than 200 pounds and has regained his health, thanks to the bariatric surgery he had in June of 2002 at Winthrop-University Hospital. No longer does he suffer from sleep apnea or high blood pressure. His pre-diabetes symptoms have disappeared and his chronic headaches have greatly decreased in frequency. Before the procedure, Mr. Dimler weighed 393 pounds. Now, at 187 pounds, he feels better than he has in years, has more energy for work, can run up the stairs without having to catch his breath and has a new zest for life.

    "Before the surgery, everything - from walking to talking - was a struggle," explained Mr. Dimler. "Now, I feel reborn!"

    At 396 pounds, Gerard Giarratana experienced chronic pain in his back and knees. And, with a history of heart disease in his family, there was certainly cause for concern about his ballooning weight.

    Now, one year after his gastric bypass surgery, Mr. Giarratana is 184 pounds lighter and a new man. "I was back to work two weeks after my surgery and had no complications. I adopted a new, healthy way to live," explained Mr. Giarratana. "Now, I can sit in a chair in a restaurant. I have the energy to keep up with my kids and I don't have to buy my clothes from special catalogues! Yes, I lost a lot of weight, but I also learned a new way to eat."

    "While one of the main purposes of gastric bypass surgery is weight loss for those patients who are obese, it is certainly not cosmetic surgery," said Siva Vithiananthan, MD, Director of the bariatric surgery program at Winthrop. "The surgery is offered only after a patient fails a regular medical program to lose weight."

    He continued, "Obesity is like a walking time bomb and those who are obese often suffer from life threatening health problems like diabetes and hypertension. The procedure is about helping patients lose the weight that often brings on these diseases."

    Dr. Vithiananthan explained that 60 to 80 percent of a person's excess weight can be lost after the surgery and in many cases, diseases such as diabetes and hypertension all but disappear or are controlled after the dramatic loss of body fat.

    After: Bruce two years after the surgery weighing 187 pounds and feeling healthy.
    Winthrop first introduced the gastric bypass procedure more than two years ago. The surgery promotes weight loss by closing off a portion of the stomach to make it smaller so that it can hold only a small amount of food. Food bypasses the remaining portion of the stomach and the first part of the small intestine, reducing the number of calories absorbed by the lower part of the small intestine into the body.

    The delicate surgery is now being performed laparoscopically, a minimally invasive surgical procedure where keyhole size incisions are made. Through these incisions, a scope equipped with a tiny camera and other instruments are inserted. The procedure is performed utilizing advanced camera and video technology. The benefits of laparoscopic surgery for those patients deemed appropriate candidates are a smaller overall incision, shorter hospital stay, less pain, quicker return to work and less risk than with open surgery.

    Winthrop Weighs Emotional Effects of Surgery

    It is also important to recognize that gastric bypass surgery affects not only a person's physical health but also emotional well being. For many patients, the procedure is not only about weight loss, it's about daily living and being able to perform tasks most others take for granted, such as walking up stairs or keeping up with the kids.

    A monthly support group meeting also helps patients deal with and understand the many emotional changes that go along with the surgery and weight loss. The support group meets on the first Wednesday of each month and is open to all those Winthrop patients who have undergone the procedure or who will be having the surgery in the future. In addition, Karen Norowski, RN, Bariatric Surgery Program Coordinator, helps patients through the process every step of the way.

    At a recent gathering, patients expressed their joy with the results of the surgery, exclaiming, "The experience was life altering - because now

    I have one!" or, "You want to do it all because now you can." Another gentleman couldn't be happier with the success of his surgery because of the benefits it has had on his once failing health.

    Added Mr. Giarratana, "One of the best results of the surgery is the fact that my son can now fit his arms around me to give me a hug."

    To learn more about gastric bypass surgery or other surgical procedures for weight loss including the lap-band procedure, call 1-866-WINTHROP.

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