When Carlos Orosco started gaining weight in his late 20s, he didn’t think it was a big problem. He could still play sports and go about his daily routine.
But by his 38th birthday, a diet filled with fast food had caught up with Carlos. He weighed 651 pounds and started developing health problems, including ulcers on his legs. His doctor gave him a wake-up call.
“He told me bluntly that if I didn’t change my lifestyle, I wouldn’t make it into my early 40s,” said Orosco. His desire to live sent him on a weight-loss journey that transformed his life. In addition to changing his diet and taking up running, Orosco underwent a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy to dramatically shrink the size of his stomach.
His experience is a reminder of the transformative potential of weight-loss surgery — as long as it’s supported by a new, healthy lifestyle.
“Weight-loss surgery can provide a new start for people struggling with their weight,” says Dr. Dennis Smith. “But it needs to be accompanied by lifestyle changes, both before and after the surgery, to be successful.”
As Orosco’s case shows, it isn’t easy. But the rewards can be tremendous.
A ‘Really Tough’ Challenge Before Surgery
Orosco was told he’d need to lose 100 pounds in the six months before weight-loss surgery or the procedure would be canceled. He received help from a dietitian to revamp his diet. In the place of fried, fatty foods, he began to eat more fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. But giving up those old comforts was hard.
“Those first three months were tough,” he said. “I was constantly fighting urges and cried myself to sleep many nights.”
Some patients say it feels strange for them to have to lose weight before their surgery. But Dr. Dennis Smith says this is important in making the surgery safer.
“Losing weight before surgery can reduce the risks in the operating room by shrinking the size of the liver and reducing fat in the abdomen and help patients avoid complications,” Dr. Dennis Smith says.
Despite his challenges, Orosco persevered. By the morning of his surgery, in December 2016, he weighed 555 pounds. He was ready.
What’s a Sleeve Gastrectomy?
The procedure Orosco underwent is the most common surgical weight-loss option. It involves the removal of about 85 percent of the stomach, turning the stomach into a narrow tube, or a “sleeve.”
Although the smaller stomach does help people eat less, there are much more complex metabolic changes that occur after the sleeve gastrectomy that also help to drive the weight loss. Like any surgery, a sleeve gastrectomy can have risks, like infection or blood clots.
A sleeve gastrectomy may be an option if one of the following is true:
- You’re 100 pounds or more over your ideal body weight
- Your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or greater
- Your BMI is 35 or greater with weight-related health issues like high blood pressure
To calculate your BMI, use our online tool.
The surgery was successful for Orosco, who lost about 200 pounds afterward. In order to keep up his weight-loss momentum, he turned to a new habit.
A Weight-Loss Marathon
Orosco took up running by chance, he said, participating in a 5K run-walk in honor of a friend who’d passed away. He had to walk most of the way, but he finished.
“Everybody was so supportive, I really wanted to continue to do them,” he said. After thirty-seven races — including three half-marathons — Orosco is training for his first 26.2-mile marathon in October.
After taking control of his health, Orosco told the “Today” hosts that he felt “like a new person, really.”
“I’ve been blessed with a second chance, another opportunity, a chance to do things the right way this time,” he said.
AdventHealth’s Bariatric Expertise
We know losing weight is hard, so we give you guidance from a team of nutritionists, exercise physiologists and psychologists.
If you’d like to hear more about weight-loss surgery and meet our expert physicians, consider attending one of our free information sessions. Signing up is easy and you’re always welcome to join.