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Gastric Bypass Surgery - Norma Patton, A Bariatric Patient Story of Success

Norma Patton started gaining weight in fifth grade, mostly from the treats her mom baked several times a week. She lost some weight in middle school but put the pounds back on after high school.

“I was a plus-size bride and started to eat more each year. I ate almost as much as my husband who is 6’4” and a runner!”

Reaching 400 pounds, Norma was plagued with obesity-related health problems, including:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Sleep apnea
  • Arthritis in her knees, hips, and shoulders

Norma knew people who had success with weight loss surgery, including her sister, but she viewed surgery as “the easy way” and felt she could lose weight on her own.

Following popular weight loss programs and “crash diets,” Norma lost 80 pounds — twice — but wasn't able to keep it off.

In January 2010, after 40 years as an accounting manager, Norma was fortunate to retire. That's when she decided she didn't want to spend the rest of her life severely overweight. She wanted to enjoy her retirement.

Norma's Bariatric Patient Story - A Life-Changing Decision

The enormity of how much she needed to lose, along with her diabetes and failing joints, prompted Norma to attend a bariatric surgery information session at UPMC St. Margaret.

At first, she thought about having gastric band surgery. But, after attending the information session and hearing what gastric bypass surgery could do to improve or even resolve diabetes, she felt confident this was her best option.

The preoperative months were important for Norma. She read and re-read the helpful information she received from her bariatric surgeon's office. 

“It takes a while for everything to sink in,” she says.

Encouragement was at the core of Norma's bariatric patient story.  Her biggest help in preparing for bariatric surgery was attending monthly support groups. Her husband also was very supportive and even did the pre-operative liquid diet with her.

LeeAnn Peluso, MD, performed Norma’s gastric bypass surgery on August 24, 2010.

Winning Her Battle

After surgery, Norma had immediate results. She left the hospital without needing diabetes medications.

She says gastric bypass surgery was a really good tool, but she knew she also had to make a lifestyle change.

Since then, Norma:

  • Has lost 162 pounds and lowered her blood pressure.
  • No longer uses a wheelchair or needs her cane as much.
  • Follows the nutrition phases of the bariatric postoperative diet to get enough fluids and the required amount of protein daily.
  • Sees an exercise physiologist at Dr. Peluso's office and joined the YMCA where she does water aerobics.

“Now that I can get in and out of the pool, I swim more at home, too,” she says. Norma also uses her c-pap less and doesn't sleep in a chair anymore.

Norma’s Tips for Success After Gastric Bypass Surgery

  • Water is important — it keeps you hydrated and feeling full.
  • Before bed, I drink a small glass of milk — the protein helps me not wake up hungry.
  • Follow all the advice you get from your bariatric office and surgeon.
  • The goal is to be healthy. I never had a weight goal.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk at support groups. I'm encouraged by support groups and always come away knowing more and feeling better.
Note: This patient's treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.

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