Thanks to gastric bypass surgery, Danny Hottle of Rogersville is 304 pounds lighter today than a year ago. He can now bathe himself, drive more comfortably, ride rollercoasters, sleep better and run a 5K race.

Danny has shed more than 300 lbs in a year through a combination of diet, exercise and bariatric surgery.

But Hottle’s surgery had an extra ingredient for success: his personal determination.

“Everybody has similar types of surgery,” said Mark Colquitt, MD, the Foothills Weight Loss Specialists bariatric surgeon who performed the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass on the 41-year-old Hottle at the Fort Sanders Center for Bariatric Surgery in Knoxville in March 2016.

“There’s no real difference between a gastric bypass from one person to the next. I tell people that the surgery is probably one third of your success and the other two-thirds is your habit changes, your diet. I think that’s why Danny had such tremendous success – the drive and determination on his part.”

Grieving the loss of his father and two grandparents in a short space of time, Hottle had ballooned to his heaviest weight ever – 499 pounds. “That’s when I just decided it’s time to get it done because I didn’t want to be 600 or 700 pounds,” he said. “That’s where I was headed.”

He attended a free seminar conducted by Dr. Colquitt, where he learned about the types of surgeries, what to expect and the requirements.

“The first thing (Dr. Colquitt) said to me was, ‘Do you want to live a long life?’” said Hottle, adding that he appreciated the straightforward approach.

Hottle knew his doctor was right. “Life wasn’t that great,” he said. “It was awful. I hurt. I hurt in my hips, my back. It was hard for me to bathe, it was hard to buy clothes. I just couldn’t take it anymore.”

Before bariatric surgery Danny weighed nearly 500 pounds.

“I was supposed to lose 50 pounds before the surgery, but ended up losing 100 pounds because I started doing aerobics classes,” Hottle said. “When I walked into the gym, I got in the very back corner because I felt like everybody was
watching me. I couldn’t do a whole lot, not even a sit-up.”

Surgery was set for November 2015, but was delayed when Dr. Colquitt found a suspicious mass. Fortunately, the biopsy showed only fatty tissue, not a cancerous tumor. The bypass surgery was rescheduled for March 2016.

The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the gold standard for weight loss surgery. It reduces the size of the stomach pouch by stapling and bypasses a portion of the intestine. “My belly is the size of a big ol’ large egg,” said Hottle, who says he now only eats meals of no more than four ounces.

The outlet from this new pouch empties directly into the lower portion of the small intestines, “bypassing” calorie absorption while creating a sense of satisfaction with less food. The surgery also reduces the amount of ghrelin, a hormone associated with feeling hunger.

Dr. Colquitt and his practice partner at Foothills Weight Loss Specialists, Dr. Jonathan Ray, perform more than 250 bariatric surgeries a year at Fort Sanders Regional. “When we started looking at all the weight loss achieved by our patients since we started in 2002, it’s a little over 250,000 pounds by all of the patients,” said Dr. Colquitt. “We’ve done a little over 2,500 cases between myself and Dr. Ray.”

Not all surgeries are as permanent as they’d like. “I tell patients that surgeries are opportunities,” said Dr. Colquitt. “And just like any opportunity, you can fail. You hear about patients gaining their weight back after bariatric surgery. It’s not because the surgery failed, it’s because either the patient failed to make a commitment or they were influenced by the same environment that caused obesity in the first place.”

Hottle, who had worn a size 72 and donned 9XL swim trunks to go to the beach on Labor Day 2015, was determined that would not happen to him again.

He began walking 10 miles a day, six days a week. “Even though I was that big and people would make fun of me, I would just keep going,” he said. “I did not let anything stop me. I went through a divorce, and that didn’t even stop me either. I said, ‘I want this stuff off.’”

He upped the aerobics class to four times a week, cheered on by the staff as the pounds melted away.

At his three-month follow-up, he had lost 100 pounds. At six months, he had lost 210. At the year mark, he had lost 253 pounds. “Those are better than target,” said Colquitt. “That’s Danny. He’s got a lot of motivation.”

That motivation carried him through a follow-up procedure with a plastic surgeon who removed another 33 pounds of excess skin. But the slimmed-down Hottle has no plans to adopt the nickname Dr. Colquitt teasingly suggested: “Hottie.”

“I didn’t do it for looks anyway,” Hottle said. “I did it for my health.”

That’s what Dr. Colquitt likes to hear. He explained that the surgeons don’t focus on patients’ looks, but on their health. “We’re trying to treat their diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. With diabetes, patients are often off of their insulin before they leave the hospital.”

Now 195 pounds, Hottle recently ran a Relay for Life 5K race in honor of his late father, who died of metastatic bladder cancer.

“Dr. Colquitt has been a wonderful blessing. He is really the best,” Hottle said. “He’s been like a father figure. He’s been there the whole way. When I went to see him the last time, I had his whole office waiting to see me. I’ve been richly blessed with good doctors. I’ve got life in me now. I’m energetic, motivated. I’m able to live life now. I love life more.”

“I don’t ever want to get back in my big ol’ britches,” added Hottle, who can now fit into just one leg of those 9XL swim trunks. “I want to stay like this for the rest of my life.”

If you are struggling to lose weight, bariatric surgery may be an option that can also provide benefits to overall health. For more information or to register for a free bariatric seminar, call 865-984-3413 331-BAR1 (2271) or CLICK HERE to sign up online.