Travelling for business several weeks each month for more than 14 years took an unhealthy toll on Larry Bowles. He flew from coast to coast, ate out frequently and didn’t have time to go to the gym.
Bowles reached 320 pounds, developed Type 2 diabetes and took medication for high cholesterol. His immune system was often compromised.
“I’d get colds, strep—anything the kids brought home—and take twice as long to recover,” said Bowles, 42, of Fredericksburg.
Something had to change. He made the difficult decision to quit his job as a director for Microsoft to focus on getting healthier for his wife, Christina, and their four kids. After Christina’s successful weight loss surgery seven years ago at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, he also sought a permanent solution.
Finding a Weight Loss Solution that Lasts
With three granddaughters under the age of 2, Angie Nuckles, 43, an OB tech at Sentara Martha Jefferson, became increasingly frustrated that her many attempts at weight loss didn’t last. At 235 pounds, Nuckles wanted to be healthier to run around and play with her grandchildren and for her upcoming wedding to her now-husband Mike.
“I had tried all kinds of diets and diet pills,” said Nuckles of Madison Heights. “The weight would come off but then go right back on. I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life taking pills and counting points. I wanted to change things forever.”
After seeing a colleague’s success following bariatric surgery, Nuckles attended a seminar at Sentara Martha Jefferson to find out more.
Choosing the Right Bariatric Surgery for You
On his 42nd birthday, Bowles met with Sentara bariatric surgeon Dr. Jayme Stokes. After discussing options, he decided on gastric bypass surgery.
During this procedure, surgeons rearrange the digestive system laparoscopically by partitioning the stomach and creating a pouch about the size of an egg. The small intestine is separated into two sections and the lower segment is connected to the pouch. With a smaller stomach, patients must eat less and also feel full more quickly.
“I was looking for the nuclear option,” said Bowles, a former Marine Corps machine gunner. “If we were going to start rearranging my insides, I wanted it to be permanent.”
Nuckles, also a patient of Dr. Stokes, chose the gastric sleeve procedure.Surgeons remove about 75 to 85 percent of the stomach during the laparoscopic surgery. The remaining stomach looks like a tube or “sleeve” about the size of a banana. Food passes through the digestive tract in the usual order.
With the gastric sleeve, patients also reduce their food intake and feel full sooner.
Preparing for Gastric Surgery
Patients at Sentara Martha Jefferson Bariatric Care Center receive a checklist they must complete before surgery. That includes meetings with a dietitian to change eating habits before the surgery to a high-protein, low-carb, low-sugar diet with a lot of fluids.
Patients will also meet with a mental health professional to be assured they are prepared for lifestyle changes that must occur before and after surgery.
Hard Work, Dedication Bring Exciting Results
Both Nuckles and Bowles worked diligently after surgery to follow the correct diet and become more active. They are thrilled with the results. Dr. Stokes also recognizes their dedication.
“I couldn’t be happier and more proud of the success our patients have following bariatric surgery,” said Dr. Stokes, who performs about 130 bariatric surgeries each year. “These operations truly have the ability to change people’s lives and help them along the path to good health.
Nuckles weighed 227 pounds on the day of her surgery in August 2017. She has lost more than 90 pounds since then. She even bought a dress for her wedding on Sept. 29, 2018, a little smaller, knowing she’d continue to lose weight by the day of the wedding.
“I feel 100 percent better, physically and emotionally,” Nuckles said. “It’s made the biggest difference.”
Bowles weighed 305 pounds on the day of his surgery in May 2018. He’s lost 100 pounds, shrinking from a 48-inch waist to a 32-inch waist. His diabetes is in remission, and he no longer takes medication for high cholesterol. He’s also started a new job as chief of cloud consulting for a tech company.
Both patients warn the surgery is not an easy out. It has taken a great deal of preparation, hard work and trial and error to fine-tune their diets and change their lifestyles. Both have learned the hard way what food and amounts can cause them to feel temporarily ill.
“I feel great and have a lot more energy, but it’s still a mental game sometimes,” Bowles said. “I don’t have to turn sideways to go through doorways anymore. It takes a while for your mind to catch up with your body.”
If you are interested in weight loss surgery, visit www.Sentara.com/WeightLossSurgery to learn more, register for a free seminar or to view the seminar online.