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Losing Weight and Keeping it Off

This article ran in the Winter 2019 Edition of the Virginia Hospital Center Magazine

The challenge of virtually any weight loss program is not actually losing the weight, but keeping it off. Many people can relate to the fact that you can lose 20 pounds, then gain it all back, and more. “The body always tries to get back to the way it was before,” says J.R. Salameh, MD, FACS, VHC Physician Group–Surgical Specialists. “This is not a personal failure. It’s just how we are built.”

One highly successful option for weight loss that changes the way we are built is Sleeve Gastrectomy, a minimally invasive procedure that reduces the size of the stomach by up to 85%. With a smaller stomach— roughly the size and shape of a banana—the patient feels full, and stays full longer, on much smaller amounts of food. In addition, the “hunger hormone” that is produced in the stomach is dramatically reduced along with the stomach size. Patients don’t feel hungry, so they eat less and lose weight.

“When we started performing Sleeve Gastrectomy at Virginia Hospital Center eight years ago, it was a relatively new procedure,” says Dr. Salameh. “Now, our outcomes have proven it to be a good, durable, weight loss surgery procedure.”

After weight loss surgery, Jon Lutz took up running—and now enjoys marathons.

“I was 33 years old with high blood pressure, sleep apnea and prediabetes,” says Jon Lutz, Arlington. “I had been on a diet
program for six years and was going up and down by 40-50 pounds a year.” Jon’s decision to have Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery was made easier by the fact that his mom had the same surgery in 2012 with Dr. Salameh, and had done very well. “I already knew he was a great doctor with a supportive team,” says Jon. “I’m always happy to see Dr. Salameh because he really helped change my life.”

Sleeve Gastrectomy is performed by making five or six small incisions in the abdomen to allow a video camera (laparoscope) and long instruments to reach the abdominal cavity. Dr. Salameh creates a narrow gastric “sleeve” from part of the stomach, and then removes up to 85% of the remaining stomach.

“Everything else stays the same anatomically,” says Dr. Salameh. “How food is digested and absorbed by the body is unchanged.” The procedure typically takes one hour on average. “Surgery and recovery were a lot easier than I expected,” says Jon. “I felt back to normal with almost no pain a week after my surgery. Ten months later, I attained my goal weight, having lost 110 pounds.
And, my health had improved dramatically.”

“What you get out of weight loss surgery is what you put into it,” says Jon, who is now more than four years out from his procedure. “I’ve done so well because of the time and effort I’ve put in to maintain my weight loss. I increased my walking a few months after surgery and then started exercising with a personal trainer. It was never my intention to become a runner, but in 2016 I signed up for a 5k. That same year I did my first half marathon—and now I’ve been running marathons for the
past two years.”

After weight loss surgery, Jon Lutz took up running—and now enjoys marathons. Surgical patients receive this u comprehensive guide to support them on their weight loss surgery journey.

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