Gastric Bypass Surgery Helps Severely Obese Lose Weight and Improve Health

December 17, 2007
Mike Nobles says it was a combination of things that led him to gastric bypass surgery, but one trip particularly sticks in his mind. “I went on a business trip to Las Vegas and could hardly walk,” said Nobles. “My knees hurt so badly I stayed in my room and lost an opportunity for a good vacation.” Then, he saw a story about a 500-pound man whose knees collapsed under his weight, leaving him permanently bed-ridden. At 462 pounds, Nobles said he realized that fate wasn’t too far away. “I got serious about it.” The trip wasn’t the first warning Nobles had. With diabetes, high blood pressure and nearly constant pain in his knees and back, he was already facing a range of weight-related problems. His doctor had been telling him for years that he had to get it under control. “When you hear, “you’re going to die if you don’t do something” every time you go to the doctor, it starts to get through,” said Nobles. Nobles received nutritional counseling at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. He learned how to change his diet and lost 70 pounds. Having made a good start, he was ready to consider surgery to help get him where he needed to be. “I had done a lot of research, talked to friends and knew anything would be better than the life I was living,” Nobles explained. Nobles chose to have gastric bypass surgery at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, which was designated a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery and an Obesity Surgery Center of Excellence by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Bariatric Surgeon, David Miles, MD, says the decision to have gastric bypass surgery is often a life-saver. “It is proven. It saves lives and reduces health problems,” said Dr. Miles. “It is far less risky to have the surgery than to stay obese.” The assertion is backed by a number of studies, including one reported in the Annals of Surgery that showed that morbidly obese people who had gastric bypass surgery had an 89% lower risk of death in the next five years compared with morbidly obese people who did not. Mike Nobles has lost 225 pounds since his surgery in April 2006. His blood pressure is down, his diabetes is under control and the knee pain he suffered is gone. The dramatic improvement in his health means he has also cut the medications he needs to take by 75 percent. His commitment to taking better care of his health didn’t end with the surgery, however. He is now working out for an hour and a half, five days a week and eating a healthy diet. “It really is a lifestyle change,” said Nobles. “If you are not willing to do it, it’s not going to happen.” He said the adjustments have been well worth it, however. “I have all this energy that I’m really enjoying.”