Choose to Lose

January 01, 2013

One woman’s weight­loss story illustrates the hope offered through bariatric surgery.

Jessica Petritz hit the delete button on an entire decade— systematically purging photos that made her want to scream. “I want to yell at the woman in the photos, ‘How did you let that happen?’ ” She wants to yell at herself.

In her 20s, Petritz’s 5-foot, 2-inch frame burgeoned to 215 pounds before she turned to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center for Lap-Band surgery in 2010.

Today, she has lost a staggering 70 pounds. She eats well, and she runs 5Ks regularly. At 32, she feels like she has become the woman she always wanted to be. “I have come out of my shell,” Petritz says. “I hold my head up a little higher. I feel like myself.”

Make an Informed Decision

More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The latest studies show that obesity is going to increase, and it’s going to be extremely taxing on our health,” says Philippe Quilici, M.D., a board-certified surgeon specializing in minimally invasive bariatric surgery at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center.

In fact, obesity increases the risk for many medical conditions, including heart disease and diabetes, as well as degenerative disorders of the knees and hips.

The Bariatric Wellness Center at Providence Saint Joseph o.ers help—and hope—through weight-loss surgery. While the procedure carries certain risks and must be carefully considered, it can be a life-changing medical solution for obese patients.

What’s more, the bariatric procedures performed at Providence Saint Joseph are done using minimally invasive techniques that use smaller incisions and often lead to faster recovery and fewer complications. “It used to be a very intensive, open procedure. Now, minimally invasive surgery has opened the bariatric field,” Dr. Quilici says.

The most common bariatric procedures include:

Gastric banding. In this reversible procedure, a band is placed around the stomach to make it smaller, meaning patients feel full sooner.

Gastric sleeve. About 85 percent of the stomach is removed, limiting the amount of food that can be consumed.

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. A small stomach pouch is created and then attached to the small intestine to reduce fat absorption.

Gastric bypass. The stomach is made smaller and connected directly to the final segment of the small intestine to bypass normal digestion.

Before Surgery

At Providence Saint Joseph, “before and after” means more than documentation of weight loss. “We have an entire support system and a network of educational classes for the patient,” Dr. Quilici says. “I remind patients that surgery is only part of a re-engineering of their entire lifestyle.”

To start weight-loss patients on the right foot, Providence offers:

  • Medically supervised weight management programs
  • Consultation with registered dietitians
  • Customized exercise programs
  • Extensive education about surgical weight-loss procedures, risks and outcomes
  • Support groups

After Surgery

The experts at the Bariatric Wellness Center continue with you on your weight-loss journey years after your surgery, offering services such as:

  • Support groups for help navigating the psychosocial impact of weight loss
  • Counseling with psychologists specializing in bariatric care
  • Continued consultation with dietitians
  • Access to exercise centers
  • Body contouring to address physical changes post-weight loss

With surgical weight loss, success hinges on a patient’s motivation and behaviors. “If patients are dedicated, it really is rewarding to see them be healthy, happy and full of life,” Dr. Quilici says.

As for Petritz? She knows her daughters, ages 3 and 5, are taking cues from the healthy habits she learned at the Bariatric Wellness Center. “I’m leading by example now. I’m showing them what a healthy lifestyle looks like.”