Weight Loss Surgery Was ‘Life-changing’
Lane Mitnick says he never could have predicted how much his life would change in a span of just six months. But in that short time, the 38-year-old Coral Springs resident has lost 117 lbs. and gained an entirely new life. Always overweight and facing serious potential health issues, the one-time homebody is now an avid exerciser, healthy eater, and outgoing guy. “I walk through my office and everyone says, ‘You’re glowing,’” reports Mitnick, a physician recruiter for Tenet Hospitals in South Florida. He attributes it all to a minimally invasive, stomach-shrinking procedure called a vertical sleeve gastrectomy that was performed by Dr. Fernando Bayron at the Surgical Weight Loss Institute at Florida Medical Center last November.
Gastric bypass, often called the Roux-en-Y procedure, is the most common and well-known type of bariatric surgery.In that procedure, the stomach is reduced to the size of a small, 1-ounce pouch and is connected to a part of the small intestine. The smaller stomach size reduces the amount of food the patient can eat at one time and causes them to feel fuller faster. And because the food bypasses part of the stomach and the small intestine, the amount of food and nutrients absorbed is reduced. This leads to significant weight loss.
However, common side effects of gastric bypass surgery include stomach leakage and “dumping syndrome,” an unpleasant reaction that can include abdominal cramps, nausea, and diarrhea that occurs when a patient eats too much sugary or fatty food and the undigested contents of the stomach move too rapidly into the small bowel.
Bayron recommended a vertical sleeve gastrectomy for Mitnick. The procedure uses newer surgical techniques, is much less invasive and boasts faster recovery times. Because it does not involve bypassing parts of the stomach and intestines, there is less chance of anemia, malabsorption, and malnutrition following the surgery. Like many bariatric surgeons, Bayron believes the vertical sleeve gastrectomy will eventually replace the gastric bypass procedure.
Mitnick’s surgery took just 45 minutes. “They literally sleeve off your stomach,” he describes. “Your stomach goes from the shape of a football to the shape of a banana; the rest is removed.” Since the surgery is laparoscopic, there is no big incision or scar. Mitnick says he has only “little, tiny 1-inch paper cuts” on his abdomen. After taking pain medication the first night after the surgery, “I didn’t even need a Tylenol after that,” he says. He was up and about the next day. “It was really the perfect outcome.”
I decided if I was going to commit to the surgery, that I was going to commit to the lifestyle afterwards, which is probably the harder part.
The surgery may have been easy, but the decision to have it in the first place was not. “Up to that point I’d never been in the hospital, never been under anesthesia, never been sick before,” says Mitnick. While he was pretty healthy, he knew he was considerably overweight. “As time went by I got bigger and bigger.” He tried Weight Watchers, Atkins, all kinds of different diets, but each time the weight came back. He was on blood pressure medication, and had begun having aches and pains he knew were a result of his weight. Then his father was diagnosed with diabetes. “I knew that bigger problems were around the corner,” says Mitnick. He felt that the time to consider bariatric surgery was now or never.
Mitnick researched several doctors, and attended pre-screenings and consultations. Still, he wasn’t sold on the surgery. “I wrestled with it,” he says. “No surgery should be considered routine or easy.” He finally decided on Bayron, a physician in the Tenet Health network. “I knew that Dr. Bayron had a great reputation and I saw this as a chance to change my life.”
Mitnick says the glowing recommendations of Bayron were spot-on. “He’s a great guy. He’s very warm and friendly and honest. He has a great bedside manner,” says the grateful patient. “I did ask him after, ‘Is it because I work for Tenet? Or does everybody get treated like this? He said, ‘Everybody.’”
Since his November 30, 2011 surgery, Mitnick has lost about 117 lbs. Whereas he once bought his clothes online from big and tall shops, he can now shop anywhere. Good thing, because he’s gone down eight pants sizes, requiring a new wardrobe almost every month. “It’s crazy. It’s been beyond what I expected,” he says, his enthusiasm apparent in his voice.
Because his stomach is now a fraction of its previous size, Mitnick has to watch what he eats. Post-surgery, he was on a liquid diet for several weeks, then added in soft foods, then other foods little by little. “Now I can eat anything – steak, chicken -- just much smaller portions. You feel full really quickly. You feel like you ate Thanksgiving dinner after a quarter of a portion,” he explains.
Mitnick has not only changed how much he eats but what he eats, choosing healthier fare and protein over sweets. He also bought a bike and now bikes and walks regularly. “I decided if I was going to commit to the surgery, that I was going to commit to the lifestyle afterwards, which is probably the harder part,” he says. Most health insurance requires months of psychological counseling before bariatric surgery. Patients learn to become aware of emotional triggers for overeating, and are warned that other addictions like alcohol or gambling can often replace food. While Mitnick didn’t feel the need for it, many patients choose to continue with counseling and support groups following weight-loss surgery.
More exciting to him than his looks or new lifestyle is how he feels these days. “I can’t express how fantastic I feel and how happy I am. My mental outlook has changed, I’m much more positive and optimistic…It feels like in the last six months a whole new world has opened up. It’s unbelievable how much my life has changed since I had the surgery.”
He’s not kidding. Since November, the single Mitnick has gotten romantically involved with a young woman he knew before his surgery, and things are looking promising; wedding bells may be in their future. “I would highly recommend this surgery to anybody,” says Mitnick. “It’s life-changing.”