From Fort Sanders Regional Health & Lifestyles
Three years ago, Whitney Copeland was at her heaviest weight: 318 pounds. Working as a medical assistant for a general and vascular surgeon, she is on her feet most of the day. She recalls experiencing difficulty walking around and sometimes struggling to breathe.

A mother of three children, Copeland says, “I wanted energy to play with my kids while they are young.”

She underwent gastric bypass surgery in November 2018 and has since lost more than 160 pounds. The surgery was performed by Mark Colquitt, MD, bariatric surgeon with Foothills Weight Loss Surgeons at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville.

One year after gastric bypass surgery, her weight is down to 153 pounds with a body mass index (BMI) of 24.7 (down from 46), which is considered in the normal range.

“There are more than 50 diseases directly related to morbid obesity,” says Dr. Colquitt. “Patients like Whitney who elect not to pursue some form of weight loss are at high risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, stroke, coronary artery disease, cancer and arthritis. Physical injuries due to their weight could make them disabled and not able to work.”
Knowing What to Expect
Because Copeland works in healthcare, she knew about the various types of weight loss surgery. Approaching bariatric surgery herself, she had an understanding of gastric bypass and felt confident in her physician and procedure.

Dr. Mark Colquitt, Bariatric Surgeon

“Dr. Colquitt explained everything,” she says. “Going into surgery, he was helpful in calming any fears I had. He knows what to expect and can help you through it.”

She spent one night at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and recalls the excellent care she received there.
Conquering Mental Hurdles
Copeland explains that the weight comes off quickly after surgery, so there are immediate physical changes. Limiting food and water intake is a sharp change for some. Mental strength is also important for success.
“At first, limiting food was a ‘have to’ because I physically couldn’t ingest more without feeling bad. Your body tells you its limits,” she remembers. “Now, I’ve adopted healthy habits and am mentally prepared to give my body what it needs.”
Dr. Colquitt explains, “Only half of one percent of people who are eligible for bariatric surgery have the surgery. It is one of the most underused treatments for a disease and yet the rewards are tremendous. Having bariatric surgery is not the easy way to lose weight. Our experienced team of nurses, dietitians, psychologists, patient advocates, educators, exercise therapists and surgeons are there to guide the patient through our program from before surgery and afterward for the rest of their lives. We are very dedicated to our patients and want to see patients succeed like Whitney has.”
Lifestyle Change

Once the weight started coming off, Copeland found her stride. “It’s definitely a lifestyle change. I would recommend this surgery to others, but only if they are set on making lifelong change.”

Today, the mother of three exercises regularly and has found a rhythm with determining the right things to eat.  In addition to her energy, her attitude has changed. “I push myself because I know I can do it. I am able to assist my patients better.  When I walk from room to room to assist patients, I can keep up.”

For more information about the weight loss surgery process, visit or call our office at 865-984-3413.

Foothills Weight Loss Surgeons is part of Premier Surgical Associates Bariatrics. Foothills partners with the Fort Sanders Center for Bariatric Center in Knoxville, TN. Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center is a member of Covenant Health.