Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - 53

nationwide statistics show. The reality is that bariatric surgery
can be the first step to helping people overcome widespread
and life-threatening diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
"Bariatric surgery is going to help with almost everything
associated with being overweight. Diabetes is probably the
most impactful one," says Peter Hallowell, MD, director of
the Bariatric Surgery Program at UVA Health System. "For
someone who is morbidly obese (80 to 100 pounds over
their ideal weight), the vast majority of them will either have
their diabetes resolved or come under much better glucose
(blood sugar) control after bariatric surgery."

EFFECTIVE TREATMENT
for a Dangerous Disease

Despite staggering rates of obesity and diabetes in the U.S.,
fewer people are choosing weight-loss surgery. Two reasons,
Dr. Hallowell says, is that "people don't understand the seriousness of diabetes and providers don't counsel patients on
various options." Many people also don't want to go through
a medically supervised weight-loss program that insurers
often require before covering the cost of surgery.
Long-term studies (published in recent years in the New
England Journal of Medicine and other medical journals) show
that gastric bypass (a type of weight-loss surgery) can prevent or reverse diabetes, high blood pressure and high lipid
levels. It also decreases the incidence of cancer and improves
survival in patients who develop cancer.

ILLUSTRATION BY GETTY IMAGES

A TOOL to Combat Obesity

Coleman, now 48, remembers a doctor long ago telling
her to just eat less. She tried that multiple times, even limiting herself to a few hundred calories a day. She'd lose about
20 pounds but then her body would resist and she'd gain the
weight back. One day, a friend confronted her. "She just said,
'I'm really concerned about your health.' It hurt but I needed
to hear that."
Her resolve to have surgery was set after a humiliating charter plane ride home from a vacation in Mexico; her
young son was sick the entire time and she was painfully
squished in a narrow seat and needed a seat belt extension.
Her surgery at UVA happened to be scheduled on her husband's birthday 13 years ago. "His birthday is significant
because it's also the day I changed my life," Coleman says.
She quickly shed 100 pounds and has kept it off. She no longer experiences joint pain and has run a marathon. "I feel
great and my career (as a medical device representative) has
taken off exponentially ... I show people my picture from
13 years ago and I look younger today than I did then."
She has made a point of dispelling fears about weight-loss
surgery and encouraged two friends struggling with weight

to have surgery. "The stigma (against weight-loss surgery)
needs to be fought against when you consider how your life
can be completely transformed," she says.
Surgery doesn't offer an easy fix for obesity. "Every day, I
have to work hard to fight against my body, which wants to
go back," Coleman shares. "Surgery is a tool, but I wouldn't
have been able to get here without it."
Helping people like Coleman "is one of the main reasons
I went into this field of surgery," Dr. Hallowell says. "You
get to see the impact of what you did, how much it changes
someone's life and the joy it brings ... I have people who
come in crying because for the first time in 10 years they've
been able to get on a roller coaster with their grandkids. The
impact is so tremendous." ■

CONDITIONS SHOWN
TO IMPROVE
following weight-loss surgery

TYPE 2 DIABETES

JOINT DISEASE

ASTHMA

MIGRAINES

HEART DISEASE

SLEEP APNEA

HYPERTENSION

DEPRESSION

S UMME R 2018

53



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - 2
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - 3
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