Palisade Park Police Officer Transforms Life Through Weight-loss Surgery   

Palisade Park Police Officer Transforms Life Through Weight-loss Surgery

Alex Monteleone

Throughout his life, Alex Monteleone, 37, battled with his weight. As a college football player, his weight made him a fierce opponent, but as a Palisades Park detective—where he’s worked since 2012—the extra weight made it hard to do his job.

“Even though I was dieting and exercising all the time, I could never really lose the weight,” he says. “It made it really hard to run carrying all my gear.”

Physically, weighing 320 pounds was difficult, but the toll was emotional, too.

“When you’re my size, going out, going to parties and going shopping, you’re not confident,” he says. “Even though I landed my dream job, I was unhappy because of my weight. I didn’t feel comfortable.”

Checking Out All Options

Even though he was convinced he wanted to lose weight on his own without surgery, he met with Hans Schmidt, M.D., a bariatric surgeon at Hackensack University Medical Center, for a consultation just to survey his options.

“Some of my patients are hesitant about weight-loss surgery at first,” Dr. Schmidt says. “But surgery is often the best solution. Losing the weight is what matters, no matter how you get there. In some cases, patients can’t or won’t do it on their own and diets don’t work.”

Alex says Dr. Schmidt made him feel at ease. He calmed his fears about surgery and reassured him that his inability to lose weight was not his fault.

“I connected with him right away,” Alex says. “He acknowledged that I was someone who tried really hard to lose weight, but just couldn’t get past this plateau. I knew I’d be in good hands.”

Ultimately, Alex concluded that he could not do it on his own. On May 24, 2018, Dr. Schmidt performed a surgery called a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy on him. During the one-hour procedure, a large portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a narrow gastric “tube” or “sleeve.” It also reduces the levels of ghrelin, the so-called "hunger hormone," thus decreasing a person’s desire for food.

‘The Best Decision’

To say Alex’s surgery was a success is an understatement. To him: “It was the best decision I’ve ever made in my whole life.”

In the first month alone after surgery, he lost 35 pounds, and has steadily lost more and kept most of it off for more than three years. He’s also no longer on the verge of diabetes or high blood pressure. Today, he weighs 250 and feels amazing. He was down to 230, but he says the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t do his waistline any favors.

“I feel great, I’ve gained confidence, I no longer snore in my sleep so I’m sleeping better, and I have energy all the time,” he says. “I’m no longer afraid to take pictures or speak in public. I never wanted to do that before. But I know I look good in my uniform.”

Dr. Schmidt says that because Alex has been able to keep the weight off for this long, his prognosis is excellent. “Because he was willing to change his whole lifestyle and commit to this journey, he has virtually a new life now,” he says. “He can do anything he wants.”

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