Tiffany Young likes the way she looks after weight loss surgery. More important, the mother of five likes the way she feels.
“I used to be out of breath just walking up the steps,” Young said. “Now, I can walk, run, play with my kids. It’s like I’m the Energizer bunny. I wake up, and I’m on the go all day long.”
Young said she started having serious problems with her weight beginning in her 20s. She tried different diets and lost as much as 50 pounds, but she always gained the weight back, plus a little more. As she reached her late 30s, Young’s weight reached 280 pounds and she had high blood pressure and wasn’t sleeping well.
“I was just tired,” Young said. “Nothing was working for me. I was unhappy with my weight. One of my close friends had surgery, and she did really well with it. I started doing my own research and said, ‘All right, I’m doing this.’”
Young, who lived in St. Louis at the time and recently moved to Dallas, found an online video of Andrew Wheeler, MD, the chief of metabolic and bariatric surgery at MU Health Care, explaining his approach to treating patients. Wheeler described his role in helping patients maintain a healthy weight as a potentially lifelong relationship. That connected with Young, who decided it was worth the drive to Columbia to meet Wheeler and discuss her goals.
“She just wanted to be healthy again,” Wheeler said. “She wanted to be active with her kids.”
In addition to medically supervised weight loss, MU Health Care offers both gastric bypass and gastric sleeve procedures for patients who haven’t been able to keep their weight at a healthy level with diet and exercise.
- A bypass procedure involves creating a small pouch from the stomach and reconnecting it to a lower part of the small intestine. The smaller stomach means people feel full after eating less, and the body absorbs fewer calories because food travels through less of the intestines.
- A sleeve procedure involves removing part of the stomach to reduce it to about 20% of its original size. People feel satisfied after eating smaller portions.
Wheeler said, as a rule, patients could expect to lose 75% of their excess weight with a bypass procedure and 65% of their excess weight with a sleeve procedure. Young decided the sleeve procedure was right for her to reach her weight loss goals.
After Young participated in the required nutrition education and psychiatric evaluation, she was ready for surgery in August 2020. She was a little nervous before going into the operating room, but Wheeler helped her calm down by saying a prayer together.
“That touched me," Young said. “I’m a religious person, and I really liked that. That made me think, ‘I’m OK. Everything is going to work out.’”
The surgery, combined with a healthy diet — she now avoids pasta, bread and sodas — and lots of exercise keeping up with her kids has helped Young lose 90 pounds. She’s off her blood pressure pills and sleeping well at night.
One of her family’s favorite activities is roller skating, and she feels like a new woman as she cruises around the rink. She also has the confidence to try new things. For example, when her 8-year-old daughter decided to take up soccer, Young volunteered to coach the team.
“There was a lot to learn, but it went great,” she said. “I’m so happy with the way I am now, I don’t ever want to go back. This surgery can change your life for the better. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.”