News From Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center

The gastric bypass surgery Dwayne Linger had in 2018 did more than just shrink his stomach and expand his wardrobe options. It also freed him from a body that had condemned him to a sedentary lifestyle and a shorter life expectancy.

“I was on my personal death row,” said Linger, who weighed 387 pounds, had emphysema, was smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, and required oxygen around the clock to breathe. “I knew my health was bad in 2010, and that’s when I knew I needed to change my life.”

Dwayne’s stomach went from the size of 3 gallon milk jugs to a baseball after Gastric Bypass surgery!

That’s what bariatric surgeon Jonathan Ray, MD, of Foothills Weight Loss Surgeons at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, likes to hear.

“With obesity, we’re not only curing obesity, we have gone beyond that. We’re getting rid of diabetes, we’re getting rid of high blood pressure, we’re getting rid of metabolic syndrome, we’re getting rid of fatty livers, we’re getting rid of cholesterol problems,” he says.

We’re getting rid of sleep apnea, we’re giving people with arthritis the ability to maintain their joints another five, 10, 15 years without [arthritis] surgery. These people who are losing weight have seen their chances of getting some types of the most common cancers reduced by almost half,” he adds.

“Severe obesity” (at least 100 pounds more than the ideal for age and height) is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States. An estimated 18 million Americans suffer from it, but according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, only 228,000 people chose to undergo weight-loss surgery in 2017, the last year figures were available.

“Less than one percent of people who could benefit from the surgery have it,” Dr. Ray says, noting that reasons for not having the surgery can include lack of knowledge or fear of the procedure, among other constraints. “But the majority of patients do exceedingly well. It’s a remarkable change in their physical being, their spiritual being and their psychological being.”

Foothills Weight Loss Surgeons is part of Premier Surgical Bariatrics in Knoxville, Tennessee. Foothills Weight Loss Surgeons is affiliated with the Fort Sanders Center for Bariatric Surgery, part of Covenant Health Bariatric Services.