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Bariatric Surgery, Focus on Mental Health, Help Patient Exceed Weight Loss Goal

In high school, Tiffany Orr was a cheerleader and athlete. Even into her 20s, she was active and could eat whatever she wanted and not gain weight. Pregnancy changed that.

After the birth of her first son, she lost half the weight she gained during pregnancy. Three years later, when pregnant with her second son, it was even harder.

Three years later, during her pregnancy with her daughter, she gained the most weight. Despite having some success throughout the years with different diets, nothing led to sustainable weight loss.

“It took so much energy to play with my kids, I didn’t have the stamina. Just getting up off the floor was difficult and made my knees, ankles and hips hurt. I also had some pre-diabetes symptoms, and my cholesterol was trending on the high side,” explains Tiffany.

While doing some research, she came across Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric & Metabolic Institute. She talked with her husband and decided to take the necessary steps to see if she was a candidate for weight loss surgery.

The process begins with prospective patients attending an online or in-person seminar, meeting specific criteria and mandatory consultations with a bariatric surgeon, dietitian, medical provider and psychologist.

“If not for the surgery and getting help with the mental aspect of food addiction, I’d have been going in circles for years to come.”

Ricard Corcelles, MD, a general surgeon and internationally recognized expert in weight-loss surgery (the most common procedures are gastric sleeve and gastric bypass), focuses on patients with a body mass index (BMI) between 35 to 40 or greater, with obesity related health conditions like type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, high blood pressure and others.

“Tiffany had a BMI of 48 kg/m² when I first met her in August 2021. She wasn’t sure what type of surgery she wanted so I suggested we perform an endoscopy to help decide which option would be best,” says Dr. Corcelles. “Everything was normal on the endoscopy but because her body fat distribution was abdominal, I felt gastric bypass was the best option for her to get sustainable weight loss over time. Gastric bypass can provide better metabolic outcomes than sleeve gastrectomy.”

Before having surgery on March 11, 2022, Tiffany lost some weight (at the time of surgery her BMI was 46) and strictly adhered to a very specific diet (a requirement for all bariatric surgery patients) for a few weeks prior to surgery.

Throughout her weight loss journey with Cleveland Clinic, she has had the support of a patient navigator, nutritionists and therapists, including David Creel, PhD, a Cleveland Clinic health psychologist who specializes in obesity.

“We work with patients to make sure surgery is the right thing for them, at the right time,” says Creel. “We then help to optimize their preparation for surgery, anticipate potential challenges they might have after and address them.”

Tiffany has lost 150 pounds since her surgery. According to Dr. Corcelles, she’s done even better than the average patient due to her high level of motivation and positive personality.

Today, she maintains a weight of about 140 pounds thanks to a healthy diet and an exercise routine that includes hour long weightlifting/work out sessions three days a week. Since surgery, Tiffany has become a certified yoga instructor and is pursuing nutritionist and personal trainer certifications. She uses her training and personal experience with obesity to help others.

Bariatric surgery is one tool; weight is a lifelong journey,” says Tiffany. “If not for the surgery and getting help with the mental aspect of food addiction, I’d have been going in circles for years to come. The surgery gave me my life back.”

Related Institutes: Digestive Disease & Surgery Institute
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