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Lending Some Weight to a Life-Changing Elective Surgery
Kimberly Maher admits she’s been overweight all of her life. The Harrington native was willing to live with the extra pounds until a trip to her primary care doctor changed everything.
“My doctor wasn’t thrilled with my cholesterol and said it was time for medicine. I was only 29 years old,” said Maher. “I just kept thinking — this is just the start. Today it’s my cholesterol, but what’s going to be the issue tomorrow? I knew then I had to make a change. It was my wake-up call.”
That’s when Maher decided to investigate weight loss surgery. She’d seen friends document their own weight loss surgery journeys on social media and decided she was finally ready to learn more. She started by attending a weight loss seminar hosted by Bayhealth.
That’s where she met Bariatric Surgeon Thomas Barnett, MD, and learned about his team and the procedures they offered. From there, Maher progressed through the Bayhealth Bariatric Program, meeting with a dietitian and the other required physicians before having surgery.
Maher ultimately decided on the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy procedure. The procedure transforms the stomach from the size of a football to the size of a banana, limiting the amount of food that can be ingested at any given time without altering the normal absorption of vitamins and minerals.
“The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy procedure is now the most common weight loss procedure in our country,” said Dr. Barnett. “We have a tremendous number of patients who are doing really well after this surgery with very minimal complications.”
Maher said she was ready when surgery day finally arrived in February 2019. Maher learned she was the first laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy patient at the new Bayhealth Hospital, Sussex Campus, which had opened earlier that month.
“The care team at the hospital was amazing. It was a really great experience,” said Maher. “I was 250 pounds at my first consultation. I was 231 pounds on the day of my surgery after working with my dietitian, and now I am happy to say I am in the 160s with a goal to lose another 20 to 30 pounds.”
“Kim has done very well since her surgery,” said Dr. Barnett. “She’s lost nearly 100 pounds, which is an enormous accomplishment. I always tell my patients these surgical options are merely a tool. It is imperative that patients have the motivation to make meaningful changes, and Kim clearly has that drive.”
Maher has completely changed her approach to eating and exercising. One of the biggest changes has been her approach to fitness. Maher now exercises daily. Additionally, she focuses on eating well-balanced foods that provide sufficient protein and nutrients.
“We have been so impressed with Kim’s progress,” said Bariatric Program Coordinator Patty Deer, MSM, BSN, RN, CNOR, CBN. “Kim has been an ideal patient since the start, following the meal plan and recommendations, really making lifestyle changes and using the surgery as a tool to help her achieve her goals.”
“It’s definitely an adjustment. I think about food differently now. I look at the food labels, I scrutinize what I’m going to eat,” said Maher. “I’ve learned so much along the way, including the realization that the number on the scale isn’t everything. There’s so much more to living a healthier life than the numbers.”
Maher has seen significant changes in herself besides just the weight.
“I can say with confidence that I’m more comfortable in my own skin,” said Maher. “I take more pictures of myself. I actually enjoy shopping for clothes and have a much easier time finding things. I can wear skinny jeans, even leggings now. It’s really awesome.”
“Most of my patients tell me they wish they had done this procedure sooner,” said Dr. Barnett. “It’s so great that Kim didn’t wait, and that she pursued this procedure even before she was 30 years old. She’s now living a happier and healthier life as a result.”
Maher’s advice for others who feel they are struggling with their weight is simple: Learn more. “If you’re considering weight loss surgery, just go to a seminar at Bayhealth. The only thing it will cost you is your time, I promise,” said Maher. “When I was overweight, I felt like I was acting old way before my time. There was so much that I just couldn’t do. Now I spend so much time with family and friends and have no trouble keeping up with the little ones in my life. I have my life back and I love it.”
Visit Bayhealth.org/Surgical-Weight-Loss to learn more about our program and how to get started.