Penn Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Program

Penn Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Update

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

200 Pounds Gone Forever After Bariatric Surgery at Penn

Growing up in Alabama, Roosevelt “Tre” Ford was always around rich Southern food. Sundays meant big meals with family and friends, and the table was always plentiful.

“We are a part of a big church community, and every Sunday, my mom would have friends over from church to enjoy a big meal,” says Tre. “It was the way we grew up.”

Tre was a football player, and his activity and training kept him fit. But when he stopped playing, and started a career in the recording arts, his weight started to creep up.

I was writing and recording music in LA, and there was always food around,” he remembers. “You’d spend all day recording a track in the studio, eating during breaks, and then leave at 2 am only to stop and get food to bring back to the hotel room.”

Tre began traveling a lot, performing across the world with a singing group, Hillsong. “At the time, I weighed 526. I was buying two airline seats for every trip,” he says.

But it wasn’t until an annual trip to Disney with his family Tre knew he needed to do something about his weight.

“Every year, we’d go to Disney as a family for Thanksgiving, and that year, I couldn’t fit on some of the rides,” he says. “I told myself that by next year, I’d lose enough weight to fit in any ride. It was the wake up call I needed.”

Tre’s cousin had bariatric surgery in Alabama, and became a resource and source of inspiration for Tre. He decided to explore bariatric surgery in Philadelphia at Penn, and met with Dr. Korus, who explained the procedures. Together, they decided that the gastric sleeve procedure would be the best option for Tre.

“I started meeting with a dietitian, completing all the tests required and learning new ways to eat,” says Tre. “I was ready for the change, but I knew it would be hard work.”

Tre, who was 28 at the time, didn’t have too many medical complications – and if he did, he didn’t want to know about it.

"I was only concerned with what my life would be like after I lost weight. If I had any medical problems, I asked, ‘Will they go away if I lose weight?’ and if Dr. Korus said ‘yes’ I didn’t even worry about them,” he says. “I was determined to lose weight, so I knew any health concerns I had would be gone.”

Tre had surgery in 2011, and since his surgery – and all the changes in his lifestyle – Tre has lost more than 200 pounds.

“I’ve stuck to the plan, I’ve added exercise into my life again, and I am conscious of everything I eat,” says Tre. “Since surgery, I’ve also become a father, so being healthy isn’t just for me anymore – it’s about being there to see my child grow up, and being there for my wife.”

Learn How Penn Medicine Can Help You Lose Weight for Good

Let Penn Medicine help you lose weight. Learn about weight-loss surgery and if weight-loss surgery at Penn is right for you at a free information session.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Walk with the Penn Bariatrics Team at the 2014 Philadelphia Heart Walk

We all know that exercise is important for cardiovascular health, and one of the best motivations for exercising more is doing it with a group!

Join the Penn Bariatric Program Team

The Penn Bariatric Program is joining the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk to promote physical activity to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Join the Penn Bariatrics Team at the 2014 Philadelphia Heart Walk, and not only will you getting the chance to work out with a fun group, you’ll also be helping a great cause.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of all Americans. When you support the heart walk, you’ll make a difference in people’s lives – including your own.

When:
Saturday, November 8, 2014
8 am - Registration opens
10 am - Opening ceremonies
10:30 am - Heart walk begins!

Where:
Citizens Bank Park
1 Citizens Bank Way
Philadelphia, PA 19148

The Heart Walk is free to register and join; there is no minimum fund raising level. If you do raise money, you’ll be helping fund groundbreaking research to develop new therapies and better treatment options for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

We hope you’ll join us for a fun and active day at Citizen’s Bank Park.

To register, go to http://heartwalk.kintera.org/philly/pennbariatrics

Find out if bariatric surgery is right for you

Learn more about bariatric surgery, and if bariatric surgery is right for you at one of our free information sessions.

Register here. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What to Expect at a Penn Medicine Weight-Loss Surgery Information Session

Vince Benchino, MBA, RD, LDN,, is the Penn Metabolic & Bariatrics Program Coordinator at Pennsylvania Hospital. He also runs all information sessions at Pennsylvania Hospital, and works with patients throughout their entire weight-loss journey.

We asked Vince what types of questions people ask when they come to a weight-loss surgery information session at Penn.

Weight-loss surgery information sessions are the perfect opportunities for people to ask any question they have about the surgery.


At an information session, we go over the types of surgeries offered at Penn Medicine, their pros and cons, and what the process is like within our program.

Probably the number one question I get asked is, “How long will it take for me to get the surgery?” and a lot of that depends on the type of insurance they have.

Most insurance companies require about three to six months of supervised medical weight loss. This means they are meeting with our dietitians, getting educated on how to eat, and demonstrating that they can adopt new, healthier eating and exercise habits.

Also during this time, patients will undergo testing for things like diabetes and sleep apnea. They will see specialists at Penn to determine if they are healthy enough for the surgery.

People who come to information sessions also ask for surgeon recommendations. I tell them I can honestly recommend any surgeon I work with here at Pennsylvania Hospital. Each of our surgeons has a different personality, so it really depends on whom that patient bonds with the most. We have extremely low rates of infection and complications, and our program does a great job all round.

The other thing to consider is scheduling. Some surgeons might have schedules that better fit with one patient over another. Or, maybe a patient knows someone who liked a particular surgeon and they want to go to the same person. Others might just want to schedule an appointment to get to know their surgeon. It really depends on a lot of factors, but any of our surgeons are going to help you be successful in your weight loss.

Finally, I want to add that it’s okay to come to more than one information session. Sometimes, people come to their first session and that is their first bit of research. They might do more research and then come back to our information session in a few weeks to help them make a final decision. That is perfectly fine. We want to make sure you are comfortable with your decision and the program in which you will start your new, healthier life.


Learn How Penn Medicine Can Help You Lose Weight for Good

Let Penn Medicine help you lose weight. Learn about weight-loss surgery and if weight-loss surgery at Penn is right for you at a free information session.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What to Eat After Weight-Loss Surgery


Vince Benchino, MBA, RD, LDN, is the Penn Metabolic & Bariatrics Program Coordinator at Pennsylvania Hospital. He also runs information sessions and support groups at Pennsylania Hospital, and works with patients throughout their entire weight-loss journey.

He tells patients that immediately after surgery, they need to stock up their pantries and refrigerators with that they need to succeed.

“Immediately after surgery, and for the first two weeks, patients will eat protein shakes, sugar-free and fat-free puddings, yogurt and cream-based soups made with skim milk – not cream,” says Vince. “Then, patients can progress to a pureed diet for one to two weeks.”

Vince says it’s not as bad as it sounds.

“People can have scrambled eggs, or tuna fish – or even chicken salad, but it’s important to blend everything out,” he says. “No hard chunks of food.”

After that period of time, patients will transition to soft foods, which is almost the same thing as pureed foods, but not put through a food processor or blender.

“Then you just progress,” Vince continues. “Within a month and a half or so, patients will try new foods.” Some people go right into eating raw vegetables, and others may take more time to get to that point.

“A lot of people think they will never be able to eat foods with the same consistency and texture as before surgery, but they can,” Vince explains. “We educate a lot and everyone goes at their own pace.”

Learn How Penn Medicine Can Help You Lose Weight for Good

Let Penn Medicine help you lose weight. Learn about weight-loss surgery and if weight-loss surgery at Penn is right for you at a free information session.

Friday, September 12, 2014

How to Pick a Protein Shake and Supplement

After bariatric surgery, you can no longer accommodate large amounts of food. That’s why it’s important to eat the right kinds of food. This means foods rich in protein and low on fat and sugar.

Protein is an essential dietary nutrient. It builds tissue and regulates various bodily processes necessary for good health. After weight-loss surgery, all patients follow a liquid diet for two weeks. It is important to include adequate protein intake in the post-surgical diet to facilitate recovery. Patients are encouraged to find a preferred protein drink before surgery to ensure optimal nutrition and safe weight loss in the recovery stage, or find recipes to make their own.

You can find protein supplements at local supermarkets, pharmacies or specialty nutrition stores. There are a variety of choices and these tips can help you find your favorite, nutritious protein supplement:

Read the ingredients. Complete protein products containing whey, casein or soy provide more benefit than products that are mixed with less nutritious ingredients, such as collagen.

Determine if you prefer a powder or liquid protein supplement. There are pros and cons to each type of supplement. Powder products are mixed with eight ounces of water, low-fat milk or another low-calorie liquid to produce a beverage with the recommended concentration of protein. Liquid products come premixed and some have screw tops for easy storage after opening.

Sample a small quantity of the protein supplement. Purchase a single serving to taste test before committing to a full container or case of the product.

Make sure the products are low in fat and sugar. The concentration of protein, fat and carbohydrates varies from product to product. It is important to select a product that is low in fat, calories and carbohydrates. Make sure the product contains 15 grams or less of sugar per serving. Keep in mind that a typical protein drink contains 150 to 200 calories per 8 ounce serving.

Check the expiration date. Like all food, protein drinks have a limited shelf life. Do not use products that have expired.

Learn How Penn Medicine Can Help You Lose Weight for Good

Let Penn Medicine help you lose weight. Learn about weight-loss surgery and if weight-loss surgery at Penn is right for you at a free information session.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What’s Hunger, and What’s “Head Hunger"?

penn bariatricsVince Benchino, MBA, RD, LDN, is the Penn Metabolic & Bariatrics program coordinator at Pennsylvania Hospital. He also runs a lot of information sessions, and works with patients throughout their entire weight-loss journey.

He says that hunger and the feeling of full aren't always what they seem.

“There’s a thing we call ‘head hunger,’” he says. “Patients will tell us they think they are hungry, simply because they haven’t eaten, but physically, they aren’t hungry.”

Vince adds, “We have plenty of patients that come in and say that despite the fact they are eating a lot, they never feel full, or they feel hungry a half an hour later – even though they realistically know they should not be hungry.”

But after surgery, that changes. Vince says for most people, within the first six to eight months after a bypass or a sleeve gastrectomy they don’t feel hungry at all.

“This is the honeymoon period,” he says. “But when that period is over, real life starts to kick in.”

When their hunger comes back Vince reiterates the importance of eating well with patients and going back to what they learned before surgery.

“When you start eating more and adding more snacks, you’re adding calories that you didn’t have before, and you start potentially regaining weight,” Vince explains. “So, it’s important to get into good habits right from the start. The ‘Cloud Nine’ feeling so many experience doesn’t last forever.”

 

Learn How Penn Medicine Can Help You Lose Weight for Good

Let Penn Medicine help you lose weight. Learn about weight-loss surgery and if weight-loss surgery at Penn is right for you at a free information session.

Monday, September 8, 2014

When Weight-Loss Surgery Doesn’t Work

Weight-loss surgery isn’t a magic pill, or a quick fix to lose a lot of weight. Just ask anyone who has had bariatric surgery and they will tell you it is a lot of work.

And, like anything that requires a lot of work, there are times when it can be too challenging. When you feel like giving up.

“That's something we stress with our patients- no one's going to be perfect,” says Alan Schurict, MD, FACS, Penn bariatric surgeon. “Everyone's allowed to have that digression every once in a while.”


This means exercising and making healthy food choices most of the time.

“Post-operative success is a bell shaped curve,” says Dr. Schuricht. “And just like in school, not everyone gets A's, not everyone gets B's, some people get C's and they're happy with it. But there are some that fall behind the curve.”

The important thing, he says, is that you recognize it, and get back on track immediately.

penn bariatrics
Alan Schurict, MD, FACS
“If you exercise enough you can make up for eating bad once or twice a week,” says Dr. Schuricht. “If we make people so miserable that they don't want to do what they need to do, they're not going to do it. It’s human nature, so you have to find that balance between having fun once in a while, enjoying life, and making sure that you stay on track.”

However, there are occasions when getting back on plan isn’t enough. Some patients Dr. Schurict and the Penn Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery team see require revision surgery, or a second bariatric surgery.

“We see quite a few revision band surgeries, or people who have fallen back into unhealthy habits, and need their band adjusted, or removed to have a sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass,” says David Wernsing, MD, FACS, bariatric surgeon at Penn. “Whether their issues are just in affected weight loss or, you know, complications from the band itself, we do see a lot of revisions related to the band. However, we have other patients who are super stars of the band and are doing great.”

 

Learn How Penn Medicine Can Help You Lose Weight for Good

Let Penn Medicine help you lose weight. Learn about weight-loss surgery and if weight-loss surgery at Penn is right for you at a free information session.

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