After high school, Victor S. began to struggle with his weight. As the unwanted pounds added up, so did his health problems.
Victor’s back and joints ached, and he often felt tired. “I couldn’t walk a whole block without stopping,” Victor says. “My weight was affecting my breathing.”
Victor exercised and tried different diets, but nothing worked. He struggled with emotional eating. “Every time I felt anxious or nervous, I had to run to the fridge and have a bite. It helped me calm down.”
Motivated to make a big change
By April 2020, Victor was ready to take the next step in his weight-loss journey. He began to consider weight-loss surgery.
“My mother was the motivation,” Victor says. “She was always encouraging me to be healthy and to work on my weight.”
Bariatric surgery may be an option for many people who have not been able to reach and maintain a healthy weight through traditional methods, such as diet and exercise, as well as for those who have co-existing health problems.
Concerned for her son’s health, Victor’s mom encouraged him to consider weight-loss surgery, as did a friend of Victor’s who’d shared his own experience with bariatric surgery. Victor also thought of his 7-year-old daughter. “I wanted to be here for her longer,” he says.
An internet search led Victor to the Temple Bariatric Program.
“I was researching on Google the best hospitals to get this done, and I saw so many good reviews about Temple,” he says. “I made the decision to start the process, and then I reached out to Temple. They sent me the information to get started.”
Even though this was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Victor was able to access Temple’s Bariatric Surgery Program virtually, through his phone. He attended informational sessions, nutrition classes and even many doctor’s appointments, all online.
He also underwent in-person evaluations and thorough medical screenings, including heart and pulmonary tests, to determine whether he was eligible for surgery. Victor found the thoroughness of these medical screenings reassuring.
The thing that I really love is that they made sure it was safe for me to do this.
The Temple team also helped prepare Victor physically and emotionally for the journey ahead.
A dietitian helped prepare Victor for the eating changes he would need to make before and after his surgery. He received a diet and nutrition plan to follow in the weeks and months before surgery.
With this plan, Victor lost almost 20 pounds before his surgery. Pre-surgery weight loss helps people recover faster after the procedure.
Additionally, like for all bariatric patients, he met with a psychologist to help him anticipate and understand the emotional changes that often come with undergoing such a life-changing operation.
“The whole Temple family came together to help me with this process. They gave me all the information that I needed” Victor says.
In August 2022, Victor underwent gastric sleeve surgery at Temple University Hospital – Jeanes Campus. Gastric sleeve helps with weight loss because it reduces the size of the stomach, causing a patient to feel full, sooner. After a two-day hospital stay, Victor went home to recover and then continue his weight-loss journey.
‘I’m a healthier person’
When Victor entered the Temple Bariatric Program, he weighed 247 pounds. Just five months after his surgery, Victor’s weight is down to 175 pounds. His pants size shrunk from 38 to 29.
“I haven’t been a size small in jeans and shirts — not even since I was in high school,” Victor says. “I donated all my old clothes.”
But his bariatric journey has changed more than just the numbers on the scale and on his clothes – it has boosted his health, well-being, and confidence. His cholesterol has improved, he doesn’t need blood pressure medication any more, and he no longer has sleep apnea, which means he doesn’t have to use a CPAP machine at night.
What’s more, Victor feels better overall.
“I wake up earlier,” he says. “I used to be so tired and take so many naps. Now that I got the procedure done, I am energetic and active. I’m always excited to go to the gym or to help out around the house with cleaning.”