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Department of Surgery Referrals Patient Clinician Researcher

Columbia University Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery
Patient Experience  Testimonials

Success Stories In Their Own Words

Several individuals who have received care at the Columbia University Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery share their thoughts on the experience:

LL – "I remember my first meeting with Dr. Bessler. It was August 4, 2000 and I looked like 9 months pregnant. Dr. Bessler described the procedure as he told me he could treat both my hiatal hernia and obesity. Before surgery, I weighed 264 pounds. 18 months after surgery, I was down to 170 pounds and am thrilled to buy size 10 clothes. I have had no stomach pain, no reflux, no heartburn since waking up from surgery.

"My side business is making chocolates . I'll mold anything . but I was told that I cannot have sugar post-surgery. I haven't touched chocolate since the surgery. It doesn't even tempt me! But I walk around Manhattan on my lunch hour, and use a treadmill in bad weather. Socializing is not a problem. My favorite meal is pizza, and I have it once a week. I couldn't get up and down stairs before. Now I run up and down the subway steps. It's great!"

FL — "The first thing I want to say to all who are considering surgery for weight loss is: DIETS DON'T WORK! All my life I've been overweight. I've tried everything, every kind of diet you can imagine. I went to the gym and worked out, but my weight yo-yoed up and down. I could never keep it off. My local internist recommended I see Dr. Bessler for bypass surgery which was done in January of 1998. I was then 470 lbs. Fourteen months later I am down to 370 lbs. Having the surgery was the best decision I ever made.

"I had a lot of problems related to my weight. I had sleep apnea, which is now totally resolved. My high blood pressure has come way down. I had pain in my legs and that has cleared up, and I now have more energy than I can ever remember.

"In addition to the gastric bypass, Dr. Bessler removed my gallbladder because I had gallstones. I was up and walking around right after the surgery with little pain. I went back to work after two and a half weeks. I put myself on a sugar-free diet so I've had no problem with dumping. Once I ate a piece of beef that I hadn't cut up small enough and I had an uncomfortable feeling but that is the only food-related complication I've had.

"The staff in the hospital couldn't have been nicer, and the nurses were terrific. I am thrilled I had it done and I would be happy to talk with anyone over the phone or by email who has any questions about having this surgery done."

MC — "I had surgery last January and after only three months I have lost 46 pounds. I had been to see six surgeons before I met Dr. Bessler. All were so eager for me to have the surgery they didn't even ask me if I wanted it or not, they just started the scheduling process right away. This bothered me so a friend who works at Columbia University found Dr. Bessler's name for me. I am very happy I choose him as my surgeon. He is wonderful, answered all my questions completely, and did not push me into having the surgery. His staff and everyone at the hospital are all very helpful and nice.

"I had high blood pressure and joint pain, which I don't anymore. I walk a mile a day. If I had it to do all over again, I'd have it done sooner. If I were to advise anyone thinking about the surgery, I'd tell them not to be scared and to be persistent in finding the right doctor. And in getting your insurance to pay for the surgery.

"Patients who have had this surgery, like the ones quoted, are very enthusiastic about it. They are eager to spread the word and encourage others to have it too. All of them have volunteered to speak to anyone who is serious about having the surgery."

WL — "What I would say to people considering this surgery is: DO IT! I was 60 years old and fighting 40 years of dieting. I was at 287 pounds and although I was successful at different diets I always regained the weight. At that time I was being treated for sleep apnea and high blood pressure. My cardiologist referred to me as "morbidly obese" in his report. This shook me to my roots. Then my grandson sent me a hand-made birthday card which said I had another half of my life to live. I knew I couldn't live the rest of my life as a morbidly obese person. I had been looking forward to early retirement and wanted to enjoy those years. The frustration of dieting and then regaining the weight was too much. I had to do something.

"My daughter-in-law who is a nurse recommended that I see Dr. Bessler and she was with me when I had my first visit with him. She knew all the questions to ask. Dr. Bessler described very carefully the different procedures I could have done and left the choice up to me. I chose to have the gastric bypass and I did not have it done laparoscopically. I would have been on the table longer that way and, with my sleep apnea, I was worried about that. Dr. Bessler gave me the names and numbers of a few patients who had had the surgery and I spoke with a few of them. I became anxious the month before the surgery was scheduled because I had never undergone major surgery before. Speaking with other patients who had the surgery was reassuring and a tremendous help.

"I experienced very little pain after the surgery. I was up and walking the same day. For the first 30 days at home I ate only pureed food. I have restricted the amount of sweet foods I eat but other than that I eat virtually everything I want to. My only complication was an infection in the skin next to the incision, which could have been avoided if I had called the doctor sooner. I was back to work within a month, and was up to full speed in every way within two. I never experienced any vomiting and the results have been great.

"I've lost 85 pounds in 7 months. I no longer have sleep apnea. My blood pressure is normal. All the joint pain in my knees, hips and ankles is gone. My cholesterol is down, my triglycerides are down, and I feel great. My only regret is that I didn't have the operation sooner! Other than that, I wouldn't do anything differently. If you are considering having this surgery, speak with people who have had it done. This will help you get over your fears. I would be happy to share my experience with anyone who would like to find out more about what is involved in this surgery."

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