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Weight-Loss Surgery Provides a Head Start

Something needed to drastically change in Steve's life. At nearly 500 pounds, he would eat two dozen donuts and wash it down with a half gallon of chocolate milk in one sitting. Twice, he was asked to leave a Chinese buffet.

When his doctor wanted to add two more medications to the nine pills Steve was already taking daily, he realized it was time to act.

"I had tried doing it on my own before," Steve says. "Once, I lost 110 pounds, but I gained it all back."

Steve learned about Dr. Brett Cohen and the Memorial Weight-Loss Surgery Program from his mother, whose sleeve gastrectomy surgery was performed by Dr. Cohen.

"I went to the seminar Dr. Cohen does every month," Steve says. "Once I met with him, I felt he was caring...I knew he was going to be my surgeon."

Steps Forward

Steve had the same surgery his mother had found so successful, sleeve gastrectomy—a procedure in which a surgeon removes about 85 percent of the stomach. Commonly called a gastric sleeve, this minimally invasive, laparoscopic procedure helps patients lose weight by making them feel full after eating a small amount of food.

"I was close to 500 pounds," Steve says. "Now, I'm right about 230."

Surgery is just one step in his weight-loss journey, says Steve, who subscribes to the Memorial Weight-Loss Surgery Program's multidisciplinary approach.

"It's mandatory you go to a therapist first. Then you go to a support group to meet people who had the same surgery you're about to have. It's to make sure you're in the right frame of mind, because surgery is just a tool to help you get where you want to be," Steve says.

Now, he considers the quality of the food he chooses to eat, instead of the quantity. He works a 13-hour day, hits the gym for an hour, eats dinner, and still has energy left over.

"I consider my surgery day my rebirth," Steve says. "I just want to be healthy. I've been given a second chance at life."

Dr. Cohen says that's really the goal of the Memorial Weight-Loss Surgery Program.

"We see our patients get back to doing things they've wanted to do their entire lives," Dr. Cohen says. "They get rid of medical problems and get to be with their families, enjoying what we would consider a 'normal' life that they've been restricted from."

Steve only sees one way to go from here: forward.

"You try so hard to be healthy. But every time I took three steps forward, I felt like I took one step back," Steve says. "The reason I had the surgery was to give me the extra step ahead, to where I was always going to be ahead and not have to look back."