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In the Spotlight

For many people, losing weight isn’t simply about looking and feeling good. It could actually be a matter of life and death.

Consider 42-year-old Gena Downey of Burbank, who used to weigh 230 pounds. At that weight, she had diabetes, serious sleep apnea and needed medication to protect her heart. But after shedding more than 100 pounds following bariatric weight-loss surgery performed at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, those health issues are a thing of the past.

For Helen Kanataryan of Van Nuys, weighing 341 pounds was preventing her from achieving her dream of being a mother. She’d tried dieting, exercising and weight-loss pills, but it took bariatric surgery to help her reach a healthy weight—and give birth to her first child.

“I tried to get pregnant for five years,” says the 28-year-old Kanataryan. “I finally did, and it’s all because of the surgery.”

Mark Farnsworth, a 48-year-old from Newhall, is another of the many success stories to come out of Providence Saint Joseph’s bariatric program. He lost more than 200 pounds and, last year, walked 29 miles in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, something he never would have dreamed of in the days when his weight exceeded 450 pounds.

In the Spotlight

If you’re considering bariatric surgery, how do you decide which procedure is right for you?

Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center’s award-winning Bariatric Wellness Center offers minimally invasive procedures including Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and LAP-BAND®.

According to Philippe J.Quilici, M.D., director of the center, gastric bypass is considered the gold standard.

“It’s among the best procedures if you have diabetes and are morbidly obese,” he explains. “Statistically, there’s an 85 percent to 90 percent incidence of eradicating type 2 diabetes with gastric bypass compared to 47 percent with LAP-BAND.”

Dr.Quilici says gastric bypass has a high success rate for longterm weight loss as well as faster initial results.

However, gastric bypass is only recommended for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher. An advantage of the LAP-BAND procedure is that it can be performed on people with a BMI of 30 to 35 if they have a co-morbid condition such as diabetes. The Food & Drug Administration recently lowered the BMI requirement for LAPBAND, while it remains 35 and up for other procedures.

LAP-BAND can be performed on an outpatient basis and the Bariatric Wellness Center offers competitive pricing, in addition to support for the lifestyle changes necessary to maintain weight loss.


Like so many others, Jessica had watched her weight slowly take the joy out of the things she loved.

She knew her obesity would eventually cut her life short. “My health was escalating in the wrong direction,” explains Jessica, “and there really wasn’t any end in sight – unless I did something.” Today, just two years after her procedure at the Bariatric Wellness Center at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Jessica has lost over 75 pounds and discovered new inspiration, running races, practicing yoga and doing things she never thought possible. “This is just the beginning,” says Jessica, “the rest of my life is ahead of me!”

Watch Jessica's Story...

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