Weight loss surgery: One man's journey

Randy Lee has lost 173 pounds since having Bariatric surgery.
Randy Lee has lost 173 pounds since having Bariatric surgery.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Randy Lee was a hefty man just a few years ago. He was physically active, but he had other problems associated with his weight.

"I weighed 404 pounds at the pinnacle of my weight, I guess, and I got winded walking to the mailbox, but that really didn't stop me. I ran a triathlon at 330 pounds. I developed diabetes, high blood pressure," said Lee.

Lee said he tried to do it himself through diet but failed. And he knew it was dangerous to carry around that much weight. He went to a seminar to learn about weight loss surgery options. He passed on it the first time, and a year later decided to go for it.

Dr. Ravindra Mailapur performed Bariatric surgery on Randy.

"You have to be about 80 to 100 pounds above your ideal body weight to qualify," said Mailapur.

He said you can also have a body mass index (BMI) of 35. It is one of three choices offered to people thinking about weight loss surgery.

"Gastric bypass does two things. It restricts the amount of food you can eat and causes mal-absorption so you don't absorb all the food you eat. Sleeve Gastrectomy is purely a restricting operation. It restricts the amount of food you eat," said Mailapur. "And the third operation is the Lap Banding, which puts a band in your stomach and creates or makes a small compartment above the band, can be done with a laparoscope."

By using a laparoscope, that means a smaller incision and quicker recovery.

"All the operations, you can pretty much go back to work on an average of five to seven days," added Mailapur.

He said a truly physical job may take two to three weeks recovery time.

"Randy said he was in the hospital for two days and the day he was released - he went back to work," said Mailapur.

Lee said life now is so much better, and he is 173 pounds lighter.

"It's hard to get over the fact that I'm wearing a size 38 pants and I used to wear a 60," he said.

And he runs in marathons all the time.

"Obviously, all of these operations are tools to help you lose weight. They're not rocket science or a magic bullet. You can give them a good option but you can't change their eating habits," said Mailapur.

He said a good multi-discipline program involving surgery, nutrition and exercise do better than those who only have the surgery.

And Randy Lee is leaner and healthier than he's been in a long time.

For anyone considering Bariatric surgery, Huntsville Hospital's Center for Surgical Weight Loss conducts free information seminars every month. Led by Dr. Ravindra Mailapur or a Bariatric nurse, these seminars are an important first step in the decision to have Bariatric surgery. To learn more about the seminars visit the website or call (256) 265-1890.

Designed to keep the post-operative patient rejuvenated and focused on continuing to lose weight in a healthy manner, Huntsville Hospital's Bariatric support group includes ongoing support from a registered dietitian and a Bariatric nurse. The support group is also open to anyone considering weight loss surgery.

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