Around the time Courtney Allen was getting married last spring, her weight had reached its highest point and she felt hopeless when it came to losing weight.
“I realized that I couldn’t do it on my own,” said Allen, 30, of Bentonville. “I had tried so many different times to lose weight and had failed.”
After hearing about the new Mercy Bariatric Center in Rogers, Arkansas, and Mercy’s new fellowship-trained bariatric surgeon, Dr. Mark Perna, she decided to explore more permanent weight loss solutions.
She attended a free bariatric surgery seminar last April and brought her parents, Bob and Shelley Bouly, along for support. After attending the seminar, they all decided to make a change. Last September, Allen and her parents all underwent gastric bypass surgery.
“My whole life has changed,” Allen said. “I’m just so happy nowadays. I’m exercising and I enjoy it, which I never thought was possible. It’s the life I always wanted but never knew I could have.”
In the six months since their surgeries, the results have been amazing for Allen and her parents. She has lost 80 pounds of her 175-pound weight loss goal. Her father has lost about 80 pounds of his 100-pound goal, and her mother has lost 96 pounds of her 120-pound goal.
But the weight loss itself is only one of their successes. Prior to the surgery, Allen had developed diabetes and a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Since the weight loss, she no longer has diabetes and is hopeful that her PCOS symptoms will soon disappear.
Bob Bouly, 53, has Parkinson’s disease, which causes involuntary shaking. The weight loss and the ability to be more physically active have helped lessen the amount of shaking. He was also taking medication for the early stages of diabetes, but no longer needs the medication.
For Shelley Bouly, 53, her blood pressure has decreased and she has been able to reduce the amount of blood pressure medication she is taking.
Allen and her parents are enjoying being more active and are glad they opted for the surgery.
“It was awesome to be able to do it together and I think that’s one reason we’ve been as successful as we have,” Allen said. “We have the greatest support network within each other.”
Bariatric Surgery at Mercy
The Mercy Bariatric Center in Rogers began performing bariatric surgeries last August. The center offers three main types of minimally invasive bariatric surgery — gastric bypass (the most common surgery), gastric sleeve and gastric band.
All three surgeries restrict the stomach so it takes less food to feel full. The gastric bypass surgery also reduces the body’s ability to absorb calories and nutrients, leading to the best weight loss results.
The procedures also offer other important health benefits.
“There are a number of studies that show how these surgeries can extend patients’ lives by as much as five to seven years; vastly improve their quality of life; and have the chance for remission of chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea,” Perna said. “The surgeries also help prevent kidney disease, heart disease and stroke. That’s a big deal.”
Team-centered Approach to Weight Loss
Prior to having the surgery, patients consult with the surgeon, a dietitian, an exercise physiologist and a clinical psychologist to determine if they qualify for the surgery and to ensure they are equipped with the necessary knowledge to be successful, including education around diet, exercise and mental health. This process usually takes around three months.
After the surgery, patients continue to meet with the dietitian, exercise physiologist and, if needed, can consult with the clinical psychologist. Perna also sees patients multiple times during the first year and once a year for at least five years after surgery.
“The team they’ve assembled is phenomenal and each person involved in the process really cares about our success in the future,” Allen said. “There’s a lot of support and I don’t think I would have found that anywhere else.”
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