Weight Loss Surgery Success at Long Last

October 14, 2020

When Mary Ann Previti’s adjustable gastric band started eroding in 2016, she underwent a different type of bariatric surgery to correct it: a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. She had the band for seven years and was mostly happy with it, but thought the sleeve would be a more long-term solution.

Unfortunately, after about a year, she realized the sleeve was not working. She wasn’t losing weight, and there was little restriction; she could still eat a large quantity of food. Depressed with her weight and appearance, she knew she needed help but wasn’t sure if another surgery was the right course of action. After researching online and talking with friends who had successful surgeries, the 66-year-old turned to Vishal Mehta, M.D., bariatric surgeon at Raritan Bay Medical Center—Old Bridge.

Seeking Expertise in Bariatric Surgery

Because of her past experiences with bariatric surgery, Mary Ann wanted to make sure she received advice and treatment from an expert. “I sought out Dr. Mehta for his experience,” she says. “He is way above the curve with his knowledge about challenges with bariatric surgeries and how to address them.”

Mary Ann, who lives in Egg Harbor Township, was nervous going to a new hospital for the first time. But Dr. Mehta’s decisive action alleviated her anxiety.

“She wasn’t sure if another surgery would give her a better outcome, but took a chance and decided to come in for a consultation,” says Dr. Mehta. “I recommended an endoscopy to check if the stomach was stretched out over the years, which is often the case and would allow her to eat a larger quantity of food to feel full.”

The endoscopy results led Dr. Mehta to recommend converting Mary Ann’s sleeve to a gastric bypass. “I told her that it has a very high likelihood of working,” he says.

Gastric bypass involves creating a small pouch from the stomach and connecting it directly to the small intestine. After gastric bypass, swallowed food goes into this small pouch of stomach, then directly into the small intestine, bypassing most of the stomach and the first section of the small intestine.

Above and Beyond Care

Mary Ann’s surgery was successfully performed on February 3, 2020. So far, she has lost more than 25 pounds and is continuing to lose weight. “The surgery has helped with moderation,” she says. “I used to be able to eat a huge amount of food, but now my husband and I have to share a steak!”

Mary Ann praises Raritan Bay for the care she received there as a whole. “Before surgery, I was very, very nervous, but everyone from the nurse to the anesthesiologist was so kind and thoughtful,” she says.

After her surgery, she stayed in the recovery room overnight. As it turns out, the hospital was experiencing an influx of flu patients, and there were no private rooms available. However, the team members partitioned off the recovery room to give post-op patients privacy and made a point to keep Mary Ann entertained with an iPad, books and magazines, as well as provided her with little bags of toiletries.

“They went out of their way to keep me comfortable,” she says. “By the next day, they had rooms available, but I would never have guessed we weren’t supposed to be in the recovery room overnight. That’s how hard they were working.”

Although she is no stranger to surgery, Mary Ann says she is usually nervous to stay at a hospital alone. But at Raritan Bay, she felt comfortable enough to send her husband home. “I told him to go take care of our dogs and look after his elderly parents, not to worry about me—I’m OK here,” she says.

“It’s truly a great environment that I am glad to be a part of,” adds Dr. Mehta. “There is a lot of exciting growth happening here that I believe the community will benefit from.”

As for Mary Ann, she is making the most of her home gym while the COVID-19 pandemic closed many gyms, and enjoys cooking for herself and her husband. While she had previously retired from her job in real estate, she recently started working again at a real estate company because of how good she feels.

“I’m still gushing [about my experience at Raritan Bay],” she says. “These people were heroes even before the pandemic. If I ever have to have another surgery, that’s where I’m going.”

Is Bariatric Surgery Right for You?

Obesity is a prevalent and real disease that can lead to other weight-related diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. It can affect your happiness and ability to live your life, Dr. Mehta says.

For those who are severely overweight, Dr. Mehta suggests making an appointment with a bariatric surgeon. “There are different options in bariatric surgery,” he says. “While the internet is always a great place to get the basics, it cannot substitute a conversation with someone who has committed their life to treating this problem and can guide you to the right surgery.”

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.