Weight a Minute

Before you take medication to lose weight, weigh your options

Sometimes weight gain is like a hungry monster. Every time Patricia Fernez-Aten of Sevierville fought to lose weight, it seemed like the weight was fighting back.

“I would gain weight, lose weight, all my life, gain weight, lose weight,” she says.

Stepping away from her career as a law enforcement officer to retire on disability didn’t help matters. Fernez-Aten’s lifestyle went from active to sedentary with pain that made it difficult to get motivated and move.

She tried diets and exercise programs with some success. She went to a weight-loss clinic for extra guidance and received injections to support her personal battle.

“Then all of a sudden, I started gaining weight, even though I was eating salads and doing what they told me to do,” Fernez-Aten says. “I was taking the shots and I was walking every day.”

Losing weight kept leading to a losing battle. Fernez-Aten was ready for a big win.

A Proven Plan for Weight Loss

Fort Sanders Center for Bariatric Surgery gives patients like Fernez-Aten hope for a better quality of life. Mark Colquitt, MD, a board-certified surgeon with years of experience, performs bariatric surgery that is minimally invasive and is often performed with robotic technology.

For Fernez-Aten, the results of the program have been jaw-dropping. In addition to losing weight and going from a size 18 to a size 4, her cholesterol, glucose, and estrogen levels are now healthy, and she is no longer diabetic.

“I walk 5,000 steps a day, sometimes 10,000; we hike, things that I never thought I could do,” FernezAten says. “I’m 70, and yet I feel like I felt when I was 27 years old.”

In this medically supervised program, patients receive guidance and support from certified bariatric nurses and consultation with a dietitian. Weight-loss surgery is a big step that requires a change in lifestyle, and Fort Sanders Center for Bariatric Surgery helps patients make a positive change.

“Surgery is the best method for long-term weight loss,” Dr. Colquitt says. “Medications are fine, but if you are trying to lose 100 pounds, you eventually spend a lot of money and are probably going to fail.”

Dr. Colquitt says most people regain weight as soon as they stop taking medication if they don’t incorporate solid lifestyle changes like a healthier diet and exercise. He also emphasizes that most medications are not covered by insurance, while many weight-loss procedures are.

In addition to providing clinical guidance that helps patients achieve those important lifestyle changes, the bariatric center at Fort Sanders Regional offers the option of lifelong support. These are advantages you won’t find in a pill bottle or a hypodermic needle.

A Restored Quality of Life

Fernez-Aten has become part of an online community of support for people who are considering bariatric surgery.

Always honest about the level of commitment it takes, Fernez-Aten tells others they have to firmly decide they want a healthy life more than they want unhealthy foods and unhealthy habits. She also tells them it’s a commitment she never regrets.

“There’s life after weight loss,” she says. “I just can’t tell you how it changed my life. I should have done it years ago.”

Dr. Colquitt says bariatric surgery is not a quick fix, but a tool for a lasting change.

“We’re not going to force anybody into having an operation. If you don’t want to have surgery, then you can go to our medically supervised weight management side of the practice for the safest use of medications first,” Dr. Colquitt says. “Weigh all your options, then come in and talk to us.”

To learn more about bariatric surgery at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, informational seminars on available procedures, or the nonsurgical nutrition program to help with weight loss, visit FSRegional.com or call 865-541-4500.

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