Thirty-seven-year-old Georgette Brown has been struggling with her weight since her childhood.
Brown has been overweight since she was about eight.
“I knew from an early age that food is the only friend who wouldn’t judge you and will always comfort you,” she said.
“But eventually the extra weight brought me shame.”
When she turned 30, Brown knew she didn’t want to continue struggling with being overweight anymore, but she was afraid of taking a drastic measure.
“I went on Atkins and I lost 60 pounds, but I gained every single pound back and then some,” said Brown, who is a resident of Trenton, N.J.
She investigated various options, including bariatric surgery, but at the time she was afraid to undergo the procedure.
“I had gotten to the point to where I was just tired. I was out of breath. I just didn’t feel comfortable in my skin anymore,” recalled Brown.
When Brown would commute to her job on the train, she felt physically uncomfortable because she was taking up the whole seat.
Due to being overweight, Brown knew she had a high risk of developing high blood pressure.
“I wasn’t having the right quality of life, and I knew that health problems were right around the corner,” she said.
Brown knew she couldn’t continue to live that way.
So Brown turned to Jefferson’s Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program, where she underwent gastric bypass surgery on October 19, 2010.
After undergoing her surgery, Brown made lifestyle changes, including altering her diet and cooking healthier foods.
Before the operation, Brown weighed 277 pounds. Now her weight fluctuates between 168 and 170 pounds.
For Brown, the benefit of weight loss goes beyond her physical look.
“I feel great. I have more energy. I feel much healthier,” says Brown.
“I feel like there are a lot of things that I will do now that I would not have done before because I was fat or I just didn’t have the energy to do. It’s the little things that I do in my life, that I wouldn’t have done or wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing,” says Brown.
For instance, before her weight loss, Brown shied away from going to the gym.
“I wouldn’t go to the gym because I was heavy. I just felt uncomfortable. Everybody at the gym was skinny and active, and they weren’t puffing after 10 minutes on the elliptical machine.”
Now she exercises at the gym at least three times a week.
Dr. David Tichansky, director of the Jefferson Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program, says that Brown personifies everything great about bariatric surgery.
“She’s done really well, but I can’t take credit for her results. I can take credit for getting her safely though the surgery. She’s done all the right things in terms of really focusing on what she’s eating, exercising, and following the plan to get the best possible outcome. Her experience has been exemplary,” said Tichansky.
Tichansky said bariatric surgical procedures have come a long way in the last 10 years. During the time, there’s been a movement to do minimally invasive bariatric surgery.
“That really has dramatically changed the safety profile of a lot of these cases, and a lot of these patients are having less risk of complications. It’s really become much safer than it’s ever been,” he said.
We’ve learned a lot more about some of the effects of bariatric surgery and the biggest one beside weight loss is how it improves diabetes and high blood pressure and it improves a lot of the diseases that go along with extra weight.”
Tichnasky says people may have misconceptions about bariatric surgery and dietary restraints.
“We encourage balanced meals of normal food — it’s just that the meals are smaller,” he added.
Jefferson’s Bariatric program has a team of healthcare professionals including nurse practioners, dietitians, psychologists and medical consultant physicians.
Since Jefferson’s Bariatric program was established in 2008, more than 400 patients have undergone gastric bypass and gastric banding to treat morbid obesity.