From Shopper News

It’s been more than three years since Pat Benn of Knoxville, 49, underwent weight loss surgery with Dr. Jonathan Ray, a bariatric surgeon now practicing at Foothills Weight Loss Specialists and the Fort Sanders Center for Bariatric Surgery.

In May 2011, Benn had gastric bypass surgery, a procedure in which the stomach is made smaller, causing food to bypass part of the small intestine. This enables her to feel full quickly and eat far less.

“The moment I start to feel full, I stop eating. I never overeat, and I think that’s a tool they _DRD3437gaveme,” she said.

Benn eats several small, high protein meals each day. At first, the weight came off quickly – 100 pounds in the first three months.

“But then it slows,” Benn said. “Surgery helps with 70 percent of what you need to lose, but what people don’t realize is you have to put effort into it. Weight loss surgery does not change you, you have to change you! It takes work and dedication to stay changed. Actually, I’m still losing weight, which is a really cool thing.”

A big part of that is her dedication to an active lifestyle.

“I try to get more exercise. I drink more water than I used to, and I don’t drink soda at all. I also like to walk, swim, dance. I like moving, period. I play miniature golf and wrestle with my grandkids. I can walk downtown. Walking ing on the beach used to be so difficult, and now I can walk on the beach with no problems.”

Benn has lost more than 230 pounds off her highest weight of 392 and has reduced her risk for major health problems.

“I’m a nurse, and I come from a family with a history of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. I knew it was only a matter of time before that was present in my life. I didn’t want to go down that road,” Benn said.

Benn said she chose Ray based on a recommendation from a friend. “She kept going on and on how great he was, he’s a Christian and he prays with you. So my spirit said, ‘You know what? Maybe he’s the right one.’ And I just fell in love with him and the whole staff. Walking into the office is like walking into a family home. They’re so loving and welcoming.”

Before Pat BennSince the surgery, Benn said the main complication she had was an ulcer.

“Ulceration is one of the things that can occur more frequently than we like,” Ray said. “We recommend patients stay away from NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), like ibuprofen.”

Also, in the three years since Benn’s surgery, a newer procedure called the “gastric sleeve” has proven to have fewer complications than gastric bypass.

“In May 2012, the American Society of Bariatric Physicians began recommending that the primary procedure be the gastric sleeve,” said Ray.

“But Pat has done excellently with her surgery. She is full of life now and can do more than she used to do. Her outlook on life is greatly improved,” said Ray. “It’s a privilege for us to see people’s lives change for the better.”