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 bariatric surgeon Dr. Christian Birkedal. “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. Birkedal says there are two reasons for this requirement.
“First, losing weight before surgery can reduce the risks in the operating room and help patients avoid complications,” Dr. Birkedal says. “Second, multiple studies have shown that people who lose weight before surgery are much more likely to keep the weight off afterward.”
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 idea is that a smaller stomach gets full much more quickly, leading the person to stop eating. 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
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
The AdventHealth Bariatrics team can talk with you about your options for surgical treatment of severe obesity and its related conditions. We’re experts in the surgery itself as well as crafting a treatment plan tailored to the needs of each patient.
To find out more about how we support you through your weight-loss journey, please visit our website.