Gritty Iowan Embraces Extreme Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Bariatric Surgery Success Story With Kelly

One crisp day in November of 2012, Kelly Eaton decided the time had come to do something about the weight that had defined most of her life.

As an adolescent, she could never remember weighing less than 200 pounds. As a 5-foot, 7-inch adult, she tipped the scales at 387 pounds. Self-esteem suffered. Social opportunities were limited. Happiness was elusive.

Now the 30-year-old resident of Cedar Rapids was determined to have more fun, enjoy life more fully.

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An online search soon yielded just what she was looking for: an accredited “center of excellence” offering world-class weight management expertise. Better yet, the Obesity Surgery center she found was located at the University of Iowa, a short distance from her home.

Kelly filled out an online health and weight history questionnaire, thus beginning a gritty quest that ultimately accomplished everything she hoped it would, and more.

By early December, she was learning about bariatric surgery from the UI Obesity Surgery team. She watched a helpful video. She met with counselors, dietitians, physician assistants, and a board certified bariatric surgeon. Her pre-surgical goal: Lose 40 pounds.

She met—actually exceeded—the goal by visiting the gym, eliminating snacks, and eating a healthy diet. Over a period of six months, she actually lost 80 pounds.

“Yes, the preparation for surgery was difficult,” she recalls. “I used to eat terrible things and now I had to be very careful. Having weight-loss goals really helped. It has benefitted me in the long run, too.”

On May 13, 2013, the green light came from her insurance company. Surgery would be covered. A life-changing medical procedure was a “go.”

Two weeks before the operation, she was placed on a liquid diet. Skim milk and broth became temporary daily staples (this continued after the procedure for a short time, as well). Her clothes were already beginning to fit better.

“Luckily, I was prepared because the procedure change was extreme. At that point I was just ready to get on with it.”

Kelly’s surgery was performed in June by Isaac Samuel, MD, associate professor, surgery. Samuel is one of three board certified bariatric surgeons at UI, the others being Peter Nau, MD, and Jessica Smith, MD. All are assisted by physician assistant Lynn Gingrich, PA-C.

Together, these specialists comprise one of the most qualified laparoscopic bariatric surgery staffs in the nation. UI Hospitals and Clinics has been a pioneer in laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, where only a small part of the stomach is used to create a new stomach pouch, roughly the size of an egg. Other available options include Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy and Laparoscopic Revisional Bariatric Surgery. The choice depends on individual patient circumstance.

Kelly felt the difference almost immediately after surgery. “It wasn’t just my appearance,” she says. “Everything is better when you get healthier.”

Now, over a year later, she weighs in the 150-pound range—a remarkable improvement with life-enhancing implications. Other than pending surgery to remove excessive skin, her life is more normal and far more healthful. “I feel great...happy to be alive,” she says.

She continues to faithfully follow a healthful diet, but has also learned from experience that an occasional small compromise is necessary. “A lot of family activities are built around food, which makes it challenging,” she says. “So once in a while, I might have a cookie or a small piece of cake. I’ve come to grips with that. Eating one cookie is OK. Eating the whole box is not.”

Kelly is an avid proponent of the University of Iowa’s obesity surgery program, which is accredited as a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and the American College of Surgeons.

“I really like the fact they’re supportive and friendly and goal-oriented,” Kelly says. “I had a really good experience with the whole staff, everyone I worked with. They did a really great job. I would recommend them to anyone who might want to undergo bariatric surgery.”

For more information, visit the Obesity Surgery Clinic or call 319-356-4061.

Learn more about bariatric surgery and how it can change your life with our free seminar: Weight Loss Surgery Options.