How the Belchers Lost the Weight and Found Their Confidence
After years of struggling to lose weight, Paula and Kevin Belcher decided to attend Olathe Medical Center's free bariatric surgery seminar. It was there they met Harlan L. Opie, MD, bariatric surgeon, for the first time.
"He was very informative and knowledgeable about all three procedures available," Paula said. "He is one of the nicest doctors and made us feel at ease about our decision to have surgery. We trust him with our lives."
After meeting and discussing their options with Dr. Opie, they decided that the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy best fit their needs, wants and overall weight-loss goals. This is a permanent surgery where the physician creates a thin, vertical sleeve of stomach and removes the rest of the stomach. The new stomach limits the amount of food taken in, causing you to feel full sooner.
"We wanted a permanent procedure done. The sleeve also had less recovery time, which allowed us to return to work after about two weeks," Paula said.
Paula and Kevin both battled weight loss for most of their adult lives. After having her first child, Paula developed hypothyroidism, which made it even more difficult for her to shed the extra pounds. Kevin suffered from chronic knee pain making exercise very hard to maintain.
Paula was the first to undergo the sleeve gastrectomy in April of 2013. Kevin waited until March of 2014 to receive the laparoscopic procedure. Both described the recovery period as easy.
An important part of the bariatric surgery process is understanding that once the procedure is complete, the patient has to make lifestyle changes in diet and exercise to see the results.
"This procedure is not a quick fix," Paula said. "It's a tool to help you lose weight. You still have to do your part with exercise and making healthy food choices."
Due to her dedication and commitment to a new way of life, Paula has dropped 115 lbs. in just one year.
"My health has greatly improved," she said. "I'm off all of my medications, with the exception of my thyroid pills. I no longer take medicine for high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome and fluid retention."
Although Kevin was just recently released by Dr. Opie to begin exercising, he's already lost 50 pounds since March. And the chronic knee pain and sleep apnea he's been fighting for years are now completely gone.
"This surgery has changed our lives in so many ways," Paula said. "Being overweight was such a personal issue for me. I feel like I have my self confidence back. Not to mention, I really enjoy shopping for clothes now!"
The Belchers highly recommend this surgery to others, or to at least go to one of Dr. Opie's free seminars to get information about the bariatric procedures available at OMC.
"If you have several health problems and are struggling with obesity, bariatric surgery is definitely worth considering," Paula said. "We can both say it's the best thing that we've ever done for ourselves. We just wish we would've done it sooner!"