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Young Kickboxing Enthusiast Shares Gastric Sleeve Weight Loss Surgery Experience So Others Won’t Be Afraid to Seek Help

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - Danbury, CT

Keith Zuccala, M.D.

Keith Zuccala M.D.
Section Chief, General Surgery
Harold and Myra Spratt Chair in Minimally Invasive Surgery
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Twenty-nine-year-old Danbury resident Jasmine Sanchez is passionate about kickboxing. A customer field representative for ConEdison in Valhalla, New York, she is the eldest of seven children and was raised in The Bronx, New York before moving to Danbury four years ago.

During her early twenties, Jasmine enjoyed a healthy, active lifestyle,. but she recently started experiencing aches and pains in her back and knees. A visit to her primary care physician confirmed that her weight, which was 260 pounds, combined with her vigorous kickboxing routine, compounded the problem, and if she continued, could cause more permanent damage.

Determined to Take Charge

For Jasmine Sanchez, life without kickboxing wasn’t an option. After spending hours on the Internet searching for solutions and investigating weight loss surgery options, she followed her doctor’s advice and attended a weight loss surgery program at Danbury Hospital’s Center for Weight Loss Surgery.

At the program, she learned about a variety of weight loss surgery options. She met with the surgeons and weight loss surgery program team, and with former bariatric surgery patients who went through the weight loss surgery program at Danbury Hospital.

That’s where Jasmine became interested in learning more about a procedure called a sleeve gastrectomy, a minimally invasive laparoscopic weight loss surgery. After a thorough consultation with bariatric surgeon Dr. Keith Zuccala, and participating in the comprehensive, personalized weight loss surgery program at Danbury Hospital’s Center for Weight Loss Surgery, Jasmine knew the sleeve gastrectomy was the right weight loss surgery option for her.

Knowledge Brings Power and Confidence

“I chose to have a sleeve gastrectomy at Danbury Hospital’s Center for Weight Loss Surgery because of its reputation; ranking No. 2 in the United States for weight loss surgery, and the pre- and post-surgery support was very important to me,” said Jasmine. “Every staff member was so nice, extremely knowledgeable, and I felt the entire team really cared about me.

”Unlike a gastric bypass surgery in which a stomach pouch is created and the intestine is bypassed, a sleeve gastrectomy involves the surgical removal of more than half of the stomach and creating a tube (or a sleeve-like shape) of what is left. This procedure results in weight loss by two means. First, the size of the stomach is significantly reduced so less food can be eaten. Second, removing the stomach affects the production of ghrelin (pronounced grel-en), the hormone that governs appetite, so patients who have had sleeve gastrectomy are less hungry as well.

While this procedure was originally created as the first step toward gastric bypass for patients with extreme obesity, and still is for some patients, evidence now shows that sleeve gastrectomy can be an effective weight loss procedure on its own.

Sleeve gastrectomy can be advantageous to many patients in that it does not involve malabsorption, so the body is able to digest food normally, and it also does not involve implanting a foreign object in the body.

Reclaiming an Active Lifestyle

Today, eight months after undergoing a minimally invasive sleeve gastrectomy, Jasmine has reclaimed a healthy, active lifestyle. Now weighing 181 pounds, she continues to do kickboxing at Connecticut Martial Arts, started running in 5K, 8K and 10K road races, and is currently training to run a half-marathon in January 2012.

“She’s putting us all to shame,” said Keith Zuccala, M.D., F.A.C.S., Chief of General Surgery at Danbury Hospital, Harold & Myra Spratt Chair in Minimally Invasive Surgery, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery, University of Vermont College of Medicine. “We can all benefit from Jasmine’s example of courage, strength, perseverance and determination.”

More recently, Jasmine Sanchez went skydiving for the first time, in part because she wanted to experience the pure joy of adventure, and to celebrate her weight loss success story.

“I have nothing but praise for Dr. Zuccala and his staff; they were easy to talk to and helped me every step of the way,” said Jasmine. “If you are truly unhappy about your weight, don’t be scared to consider weight loss surgery. Talk to your doctor.”

The Center for Weight Loss Surgery Center at Danbury Hospital is the second program in the country to receive Level A1 Center of Excellence Accreditation from 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 many patients and their loved ones.

To find out about the comprehensive, personalized bariatric program that offers the most advanced weight loss surgical options and highly skilled bariatric surgeons, register to attend a Weight No More! Meet and Greet at Danbury Hospital at

About Western Connecticut Health Network

Western Connecticut Health Network is a patient-centered health care organization established in 2010 by two nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and their affiliated organizations, to provide the highest level of care to patients throughout Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. In addition to the two hospitals, other network affiliates include:

  • An integrated physician practice with primary and specialty care expertise
  • An agency for home care and community health services
  • A full-service retail pharmacy located at Danbury Hospital
  • Emergency medical services
  • An occupational wellness and medicine program, providing services for business and industry

Western Connecticut Health Network has centers of excellence in Women’s, neonatal, cardiovascular and cancer services; weight loss and orthopedic surgery; digestive disorders and radiology and diagnostic imaging. It also offers specialized programs for sleep disorders and asthma management.  Both hospitals also maintain active clinical research programs, offering clinical trials for patients with cancer and other health concerns.

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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 Connecticut School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center.  The hospital is nationally recognized as a tertiary health care center with an innovative high-tech, high-touch environment and is also a member of the Planetree organization. In addition to offering the latest robotic and minimally invasive surgical and imaging technology, it was the first hospital in Connecticut to adopt electronic health records systems. It offers a Level II Trauma Center and Level IIIb Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Medical staff members are board-certified in their specialties, and most serve as faculty members of the nation’s finest university medical centers offering a higher level of experience. 

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About New Milford Hospital

New Milford Hospital is a Planetree organization dedicated to patient-centered care that nurtures every patient's body, mind and spirit.  The Hospital has an extraordinary tradition of warm and caring personal attention backed by top-notch physicians, world-class technology and the newest, most advanced diagnostic and treatment options available. Your healthcare team of highly trained physicians, nurses, technicians and administrators is determined and committed to improving the health and quality of life of those we serve.

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