Weight-loss Surgery Restores Lifestyle for Busy Medical Professional and Mom

July 14, 2021

Luz DeJesus, of Sayreville, New Jersey, gained 60 pounds with her first pregnancy in 2004, and it stuck. “With my second pregnancy in 2014, I was very careful and only gained nine pounds,” she says.

The excess weight on her petite 5’2” frame was a burden on most aspects of her life. “I had no energy, I was mentally drained, and I couldn’t do certain physical activities with the kids,” Luz says. “I felt off-balance, which made me fall a lot and sprain my ankles.”

Luz really wanted to lose weight, so she tried technique after technique: She joined gyms, took exercise classes, tried diets and took medication. None of it worked. In her work as a medical assistant in the Behavioral Health Department of Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, she saw patients being evaluated for bariatric surgery and those receiving follow-up counseling. She noticed happy, successful patient after patient of Ayontunde Adeyeri, M.D.

Knowing she needed help losing weight, she made an appointment with Dr. Adeyeri. She also quit smoking to reduce surgery risk and show her doctor that she was committed to achieving better health.

Dr. Adeyeri immediately put her at ease and carefully explained her surgical options. Because she was in generally good health, she was an excellent candidate for the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. In this surgery, which is done laparoscopically, he removes 80–85 percent of the stomach. The remaining stomach looks like a sleeve.

“We reduce the size of the stomach so the patient will eat less, which is a physiological consequence of the new anatomy,” Dr. Adeyeri explains.  “Most people lose about 59 percent of their excess weight within one year of this surgery.” 

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Obesity: a Disease, Not a Weakness

“Fifty years ago, we doctors didn’t think obesity was a disease,” Dr. Adeyeri says. “We assumed that the person ate too much or didn’t exercise. Since then, we have discovered a hormone called ghrelin. It is created in the tissue of the stomach, and one of its purposes tells you that you are hungry. Ghrelin can lead to obesity when a person has a genetic predisposition to produce more of the hormone than they need.”

In a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, a large part of the stomach is removed, and ghrelin production drops immediately and dramatically, reducing the patient’s feeling of hunger.

Obesity is more than a weight problem. It can also lead to a host of weight-related chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea and even cancer. Successful, significant weight loss can offset these conditions relatively quickly, when bariatric surgery is utilized for safe and rapid weight loss.

Once Dr. Adeyeri and his patient decide that bariatric surgery is the best treatment, he educates them about the different types of surgery available. Before surgery can be performed, the patient will undergo evaluations with their primary physician, a psychotherapist and a nutritionist, as well as any specialists indicated by the patient’s medical history.

Before her surgery, Luz and her husband, Michael, took a tour of the hospital so they knew where she would be having her surgery and where her family would wait, which she says greatly reduced their stress.  She also shed 10 pounds with the help of her nutritionist. 

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A New Start After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

On her 37th birthday, Luz left work for a six-week break. The next day, February 25, 2020, she had her vertical sleeve gastrectomy. After being observed to ensure there were no postoperative issues, she went home the next day.

“My weight came off quickly and steadily,” Luz recalls. She weighed 241 pounds when she began her weight loss journey with Dr. Adeyeri. Today, she weighs 160 pounds, only 10 pounds from her goal weight.

She continues her commitment to following the diet she was prescribed. In fact, within the guidelines of her diet, she can dine out at restaurants with family and friends. She’s careful to order a meal that satisfies her nutrition plan and brings any leftovers home for another meal. And when it comes to celebration foods like birthday cake? “I indulge in happy moments, and I am careful to manage my portion sizes,” she says.

Luz can now easily participate in activities she only dreamed about when she weighed 240 pounds, including active play with her kids and establishing a regular running schedule. In fact, she signed up to run in a 5K race with her husband, son and other family members this summer.

“Weight loss surgery transformed my life from top to bottom,” Luz says. “When you are healthy and feel good about yourself, you can do anything.”

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