Weight-Loss Surgery Returns Patients to Health
At close to 300 pounds, Heidi Crossman had trouble doing even the simplest things, such as sitting down in a theater.
"I was at the movies one day, and I could barely fit into the seat," Heidi said, recalling the days she wore a size 24. “I was so embarrassed. I knew if I gained any additional weight I would not be able to go to the theater any more.”
Veronica Loza faced similar anguish when she used to wear a size 22.
“I never wanted to leave the house because I was really big,” said Veronica, who had battled obesity since childhood. “I would only go out to go to work or to my boyfriend’s house, and then come straight home afterwards. I didn’t want to go anywhere else because I didn’t want anyone to see me.”
Embarrassment was just one of the problems Heidi and Veronica faced when they were severely overweight.
Of greater concern was the threat of serious health issues — such as diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea and other ailments — that often accompany obesity.
Now, several years later, Heidi and Veronica have shed about 100 pounds each. Not only do they fit into average-size clothes and theater seats, they enjoy improved health.
They are among the many patients who found help through the Center for Weight-Loss Surgery at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
Studies have shown that 80% of patients who shed the unhealthy pounds after bariatric surgery were cured of their diabetes and 90% no longer had sleep apnea.
“A person does not have to be trapped in a severely obese body. Bariatric surgery is a tool that can help someone live a healthier and longer life,” said Dr. Farida Bounoua, who performs the surgeries along with Dr. David Thoman, the medical director of the bariatric surgery program, and Dr. Marc Zerey.
All three specialize in minimally invasive and bariatric surgeries, including the two most common weight-loss procedures, gastric bypass and lap band.
Cottage’s bariatric surgery program has been named a “Center of Excellence” by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. The prestigious designation recognizes surgical programs with a demonstrated track record of favorable outcomes in bariatric surgery.
Our surgeons use laparoscopic procedures, involving just a few small incisions. This minimally invasive surgery tends to reduce pain and speed recovery. Most patients are back to their normal routines within two weeks.
A major advancement in minimally invasive surgery now enables Cottage surgeons to perform the lap-band procedure with just a single incision. “Very few hospitals are doing this, and it may be an important advance,” Dr. Thoman said.