Bariatric Surgery Changed My Life

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Three bariatric surgery patients discuss their experiences with having bariatric surgery by Dr. Baranov at Saratoga Hospital.

Narrator: These are the Voices of Saratoga Hospital shared moments and insights to help us all understand a little bit more about the constantly changing world of health and care close to home.

Some people misunderstand weight loss surgery, thinking it's simply an option people take when they don't want to change their diet or get on an exercise program. In fact, having bariatric surgery is often a choice people make because they've tried everything, and their health keeps getting worse.

Take, for example, Scott of Clifton Park.

Scott: I was having all the side effect type situations you have with an overweight or obese person: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, snoring, just a general lethargy. I didn't want to do anything. Just all these associated things happening. Prediabetes, back pain from carrying all this extra weight around. So I was sick. I was much sicker than I had thought and hiding it with aspirin and Tylenol and taking vitamins to just stay up, and nine cups of coffee to stay awake every morning. That was all part of it.

I was on cholesterol medication. I was about to probably go on some kind of prediabetes treatment. You know, my knees were hurting. It was not a good situation. I was unhealthy because of weight and still not able to do anything about it.

Narrator: Also consider Doris of Bolton Landing.

Doris: I've been overweight all my life. I fought this battle. I've tried every diet—the grapefruit diet, cottage cheese and peachs—every diet that would come out, every fad that would come out, I would try it. So it's always been a struggle.

I was having horrible, horrible back problems. I went to a back surgeon and the surgeon looked at me and he says, “Unless you lose the weight, I won't touch you.”

Narrator: And when it comes to weight loss issues, it isn't just the physical problems that pile up. There's the mental and emotional toll Brianna of Saratoga remembers.

Brianna: I looked in the mirror one day and just saw this huge girl and I couldn't believe it was me. So, it's been a constant struggle all my life.

I've always compared myself to my brother who is really athletic and toned, and all of my girlfriends who are these beautiful tiny things, and I just always had really low self-esteem because of it. So it's just been an ongoing struggle since I was a little girl. I don't remember if I ever didn't have these weight issues.

Narrator: So, entering a bariatric and weight loss program is, for many, the chance to feel like they can have the life that other people get to have and they don't. But it's also scary. Scott remembers attending the informational seminar that the Saratoga Hospital Bariatric program offers, and how it helped him overcome his fears. The key was meeting the program's director, Dr. Dimitri Baranov.

Scott: The very first thing when you meet Doctor Baranov is he doesn't judge you. There's no judgment. I think that's what's going to hold a lot of people back from possibly getting help with weight loss, is you feel like you're a stigma. You're going to get judged. My friends are going to judge me. None of that happens with Doctor Baranov. He talks. He says, here's our options. These are surgically, what we can do for you. He tells you what's going to happen. He shows you what's going to happen, what he's going to do, which procedure he's going to recommend for you. He talks to you as a person, but he doesn't oversell it.

Narrator: And then Scott had the surgery. It went well, and he could hardly believe how well.

Scott: I felt like I was in the hands of one of the best surgeons I've ever met. It was a TV experience, which we don't have in reality, we don't get this. I found it really difficult to believe that in Saratoga I had a top-notch surgeon who probably saved my life.

I actually exercise because I want to exercise, not because I have to. Also, I can enjoy exercising. I take stairs. I don't get out of breath. My blood pressure is under control. My cholesterol is under control. I feel like a different person. I look like a different person.

Actually, that's where I should have started. Because what I gained, more so than my health, was emotional confidence. I can walk into a room and nobody looks and sees a big guy coming in. They see Scott, and he's going to get something done.

I was worried when I first did the surgery that my kids would think less of me taking an easy way out. They think Daddy did an amazing thing.

Narrator: Doris had a similar experience after her surgery.

Doris: My life turned around. I can't even explain how much different it is now. I mean, I used to hide away. I didn't want to do anything. Now I'm out there all the time. I don't want to stay at home.

I lost a total of about 150 pounds from start to finish. I went down from a size 28 to a size 10. The biggest change, you're gonna laugh at this, is that I can walk into any store I want to buy a piece of clothing. Whereas before you have to go to all these specialty shops, you couldn't find what you wanted to wear. I was so happy with that. And then I don't have to be embarrassed.

Narrator: Brianna says words can hardly express how the surgery changed her.

Brianna: I kind of live every day, just happier. I have a lot more energy. I do CrossFit. I work out every single day. I mean, the bottom line is, is that I love my life and I didn't love my life three years ago.

I think life has just surprised me in general, if that makes any sense. You know, I've traveled a lot more. I’ve been a better teacher. I've been a better friend, a better child to my parents, like just all around. I'm a better human being because of it. Because I'm happier.

And I have other things to worry about now. I don't need to worry about my weight. I mean, it's obviously on my mind. I'm conscious about what I put in my mouth. I'm conscious about what I do. But I followed everything that Dr. Baranov said to do, and that's why I'm successful.

Narrator: All episodes of this podcast, Voices at Saratoga Hospital, can be found on our website, saratogahospital.org/voices, and on your favorite podcast channel.

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