Who wouldn’t like to have the energy we once had as kids? Just six months ago, Reinaldo Dasilva of Beverly couldn’t have imagined it. The 44-year-old father of four and US Postal Service clerk had gained more than 70 pounds in six years, and pain in his back and joints made even light exercise difficult.
“I had never had problems with my weight,” recalls Dasilva. “But, after I lost my previous job during the recession in 2008, a combination of stress and poor eating habits began to add up.”
Concerned about future health issues and committed to making a positive lifestyle change, Dasilva met with his primary care physician, who referred him to NSMC’s Surgical Weight Loss Program. Working with a nutritionist in the program, he initially lost 15 pounds through improved diet, but his progress quickly hit a plateau. Hoping to build on his early success, Dasilva began exploring his surgical options.
Last January, Dasilva underwent laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy surgery at NSMC Salem Hospital. During the hourlong procedure, approximately 80 percent of the stomach is removed and the remaining stomach remains connected to the intestines. For some patients, this approach reduces the risk of complications and long-term side effects that can be associated with traditional gastric bypass surgery.
Now in its sixteenth year, NSMC’s Surgical Weight Loss Program is the largest on the North Shore. Procedures offered include minimally invasive sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass and gastric banding as well as minimally invasive revisional bariatric surgery. At the core of the program is an extensive pre- and post-operative regimen that includes nutrition counseling, behavioral therapy, stress management, exercise and peer support.
“For our patients, surgery is the beginning, not the end,” says NSMC director of bariatric (weight loss) surgery Bernard Benedetto, M.D. “Every pound lost requires a great deal of hard work, and our program is distinguished by our commitment to ensuring long-term success through active education, monitoring and engagement.”
“The education and training I received through the weight loss program helped me understand that surgery isn’t a miracle. It’s the start of a new way to live,” says Dasilva. “With that extra support, I felt better prepared to face the challenges ahead.”
Soon after his recovery, Dasilva began to lose weight quickly. Today, he has lost the extra weight he had gained, and more. In addition to working full-time, he’s pursuing a degree in finance. He runs for up to an hour several times a week, often joined by his 12-year-old son. “Losing this weight has changed my life,” he says. “I’m stronger and have more energy than I’ve had in years. My mind is clearer and I feel great. I’m so happy I made this choice for me and for my family.” “
Our patients often come to us after suffering many years of damage to their health as well as frustration, stress and fear of failure,” says Dr. Benedetto, dispelling the notion of weight loss surgery as a vanity project or an easy way out. “There is nothing more rewarding for us as caregivers than helping them become the people they want to be.”