Cutting the fat: Weight-loss surgical procedures help patients gain confidence while reclaiming their lives
For most people who battle their weight, there is an epiphanic moment that needs to happen before they make a healthy change that sticks.
“I was 27 years old and couldn’t keep up with my (three) children because I was overweight,” says 29-year-old Autumn Garvin. “I had no energy, and my family was suffering as a result. I had tried every diet and would lose some weight but always would gain it back — and then some. I was frustrated and needed to take control of my own life.”
One day, she suggested to her youngest son that they lay down for a nap before picking up her two older children from school.
“He said, ‘Mommy, don’t be lazy!’ ” Garvin recalls. “That moment was such a wakeup call for me. I would never want my kids to be hindered — or worse yet, embarrassed — by my weight problems.”
That was the trigger Garvin needed to do something about her lifelong struggle with weight. She underwent a laparoscopic gastric banding procedure, performed by Dr. Eric Schlesinger of Scottsdale — a board-certified bariatric surgeon and the medical director of the Bridges Center for Surgical Weight Management at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital. During surgery, Schlesinger placed an adjustable silicone band around the upper portion of Garvin’s stomach, creating a smaller upper stomach pouch that limits food intake.
Besides the adjustable gastric band, other surgical options available for weight loss include gastric bypass, vertical sleeve gastrectomy and duodenal switch procedures.
“Each of these procedures treats obesity a little differently,” Schlesinger says. “For example, the gastric band causes a person to feel full after eating less food than previously. Gastric bypass, vertical sleeve gastrectomy and duodenal switch have an additional effect on a person’s metabolism.”
Since having surgery, Garvin has lost 110 pounds (and counting), is able to keep up with her children, now ages 12, 9 and 7 years old, and is doing things she never thought would be possible.
“Last Thanksgiving, I walked and jogged a 5K race,” she says. “It means so much to me to be able to lead an active lifestyle and share that way of life with my family.”
But Garvin’s weight-loss accomplishment hasn’t been without its rough patches.
“The biggest hurdle with my weight loss journey was dealing with people who told me I was a cheater, and I didn’t understand how to ‘really’ lose weight,” she says. “It took some time for me to realize that it didn’t matter what everyone else thought — I was working hard, and it was paying off. Now, if people tell me I’m a cheater, I just say, ‘You’re right. I cheated being obese for the rest of my life by working hard to lose more than 100 pounds.’ ”
For more information about the weight-loss surgical options mentioned in this story, visit weightlossarizona.com.
Surgical Weight Loss Solutions at Tempe St. Luke’s
1492 S. Mill Ave., #201, Tempe