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New Year New Life Thanks to Bariatric Surgery

Monday, January 17, 2011 - Danbury, CT

Successes of Bariatric Surgery

Older adults find improved quality of life and longevity

After a lifelong struggle to lose weight, Colby Kalisher, 71, knew bariatric surgery would transform her life. But she never imaged it would trigger a “joyous new chapter in life.”

Just when others her age are slowing down, Kalisher is enjoying life to the fullest with a “newfound passion” thanks to the multidisciplinary team at the Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Danbury Hospital.

“I feel twenty years younger,” said Kalisher, who lost 100 pounds and no longer needs diabetes medication following laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery with Laura Choi, MD, the center’s medical director. “My energy level is limitless.”

Before surgery, Kalisher needed three insulin injections and numerous pills every day to manage the diabetes. Walking long distances and climbing stairs were troublesome. Now she works part-time as a social worker, volunteers at church and enjoys long walks and 25-mile bike rides with her new husband, Elliott.

“I have more joy in my life now than ever,” she said.

On the Road to Wellness with Bariatric Surgery

The Center for Weight Loss Surgery offers an array of minimally invasive surgical options and support services to help people lead healthier lives. The program brings together the expertise of bariatric surgeons, medical specialists, nurses, dietitians, exercise professionals and others to provide ongoing support and expertise. Board-certified surgeons are skilled in minimally invasive gastric bypass surgery, gastric band surgery and gastric sleeve surgery.

“Our patient-focused program offers a full complement of services to help individuals achieve long-term success,” said Dr. Choi. “Bariatric surgery is a life-saving procedure. Morbid obesity and the debilitating medical conditions that come with it – diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension – are deadly diseases.”

The Time was Right

Kalisher had been thinking of bariatric surgery for some time, but she considered herself too old to be a candidate for the procedure. She finally decided to take the step after hearing Dr. Choi speak at a bariatric surgery seminar held at Danbury Hospital. “It was such a relief to hear that bariatric surgery has been effective in older people,” said Kalisher. “Dr. Choi was inspiring. I knew then surgery was the right path for me.”

“Age by itself does not put people at any increased risk for complications. Every individual needs to be assessed for medical conditions and risk factors,” explained Dr. Choi. “Plus taking the step to manage your weight with bariatric surgery can improve quality of life for older adults.”

Tackling Diabetes with Bariatric Surgery

An unexpected benefit came along with the weight loss – Kalisher’s diabetes disappeared. Before surgery, Kalisher was considering adding another diabetes medication to her regimen for a total of six daily injections. She opted to undergo bariatric surgery, instead. “It’s amazing,” said Kalisher. “I no longer take any diabetes medication. I feel like a new person.”

According to Dr. Choi, patients who undergo bariatric surgery often experience a “ripple effect” that improves many of the debilitating illnesses associated with morbid obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea.

“Multiple studies show that bariatric surgery, especially among people who have been living with type 2 diabetes for a short time, can completely resolve the disease,” she said. “Tackling diabetes early is important because no cure exists. Even with effective diabetes management, we see long-term complications that impact every organ system. It’s a terribly debilitating disease.”

Success with a Supportive Environment

Kalisher attributes her success, in part, to the one-on-one attention and support groups provided by the team at Danbury Hospital. “I was impressed by their dedication,” she said. “Their excitement was infectious.”

No longer limited by weight or poor health, Kalisher begins a new year filled with hope and opportunities. The newlyweds – the couple married last November – just moved into a new environmentally friendly home. She serves on several local boards, has started painting and making jewelry, and works as a social worker with older adults.

“I have more joy in my life now than ever.”

About Danbury Hospital

Danbury Hospital is a 371-bed regional medical center and university teaching hospital associated with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, the Yale University School of Medicine, the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. The hospital provides centers of excellence in cardiovascular services, cancer, weight loss surgery, orthopedics, digestive disorders, radiology and diagnostic imaging. It also offers specialized programs for sleep disorders and asthma management. Medical staff members are board-certified in their specialties, and most serve on the faculty of the nation’s finest medical centers offering a higher level of experience.

The Center for Weight Loss Surgery Center at Danbury Hospital is accredited by the Bariatric Surgery Center Network Accreditation Program of the American College of Surgeons. The Center’s multidisciplinary approach to weight loss has helped and continues to make a positive change to the lives of thousands of patients and their loved ones. Danbury Hospital is recognized by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) National Surgical Quality Improvement program (NSQIP) as one of 25 ACE NSQIP participating hospitals in the United States to achieve exemplary outcomes for surgical patient care.