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Gastric sleeve helps Oklahoma woman go from size 24 to size 4

Gastric sleeve is a new type of bariatric surgery in which surgeons remove most of the patient's stomach, including the parts the produce hunger hormones. One Oklahoma woman shares her story of success.
by Heather Warlick Published: January 8, 2014

Weight loss is on many people's minds as the time to start working on 2014 New Year's resolutions has arrived.

If your resolution is to lose weight, there are many diets to try, exercise routines to work and support groups to visit.

“But I've tried everything,” many people think, discouraged. If you have tried dieting, lost some weight, then gained it back, join the club.

According to “Long-term weight-loss maintenance: a meta-analysis of U.S. studies,” among many similar studies, five years after completing structured weight-loss programs, only about 3 percent of obese people maintained their initial weight loss.

One group of people who are more successful at keeping their weight off is those who have opted for bariatric, or weight-loss, surgery, said Dr. Gregory F. Walton, a bariatric surgeon at Weight Wise Bariatric Program in Edmond.

Kimberly Jackson, 38, of Edmond, went under Walton's laparoscopic knife in November 2012 for one of the newest bariatric surgeries, known as a gastric sleeve.

One year, three months and 116 pounds later, Jackson is an example of how bariatric surgery can change a life.

“You have to be ready, you have to be committed. It's not an easy thing,” Jackson said. She went from wearing a size 24 to now wearing a size 4.

‘I was missing out'

Jackson started seriously considering weight-loss surgery after watching her general practitioner become thinner and healthier with each appointment Jackson had.

“She looked amazing,” Jackson said. “She was telling me stories about things that I realized I was missing out on ... all sorts of new adventures she didn't feel like she could do when she was heavy.”

Jackson was at her heaviest when she weighed in at Dr. Walton's office. Two-hundred, fifty-nine pounds, the scale read.

She'd always had trouble keeping her weight down, but, having a healthy self-esteem and confidence level, Jackson said she didn't realize how much a problem her weight had become until she started declining social invitations because she didn't want to be seen.

To make matters worse, the last few times Jackson traveled by airplane, she had to hide the seat belt beneath her shirt, to avoid asking for a seat belt extender.

“This has gone to a whole new level, and it's ridiculous,” she realized.

So, she decided to try bariatric surgery.

Committed to health

Walton and his partner in practice, Dr. Toby Broussard, have high expectations of their patients.

Before being approved for the surgery, Jackson had to demonstrate her commitment to her health, both for the present and the future. She was required to attend support groups, visit a psychologist, lose at least 5 percent of her weight on her own and undergo a sleep study.

The gastric sleeve procedure involves entering the stomach through tiny incisions and removing about 80 to 85 percent of the stomach, leaving only the “sleeve” section.

The stomach produces about 30 hormones that regulate appetite and hunger, and by removing the main part of the stomach that produces these hormones, patients experience a big decrease in hunger.

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by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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