Fort Wayne — The Lutheran Bariatric Center has surpassed a surgical milestone – 2,000 bariatric procedures – and patient number 2,000, Kara Papaik of Fort Wayne, says the experience has changed her life.
Papaik was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome and metabolic syndrome as an adolescent, making it difficult to lose weight and keep it off. She first looked into weight-loss surgery five years ago, which is when she met Dr. Dale Sloan and his team. At the time, she didn’t feel she had the personal support structure needed for long-term success. After moving several times and returning to Fort Wayne, Papaik decided the time was right.
“I couldn’t have children naturally because of the weight, but we have two adopted daughters,“ explains Papaik. “I decided it was time to serve my kiddos and my husband by losing the weight in a more permanent fashion rather than just dieting for the rest of my life.”
“Many people believe bariatric surgery will solve all of their weight problems, but weight loss involves more than just the surgery,” Sloan said. “Lifestyle changes and personal support are essential elements of long-term success. Kara needed to be at the right point in time to give herself the best opportunity to achieve her goals.”
The Lutheran Bariatric Center, an accredited comprehensive bariatric surgery center, offers extensive pre- and post-surgical services that provide patients with both physical and emotional support. Before surgery, candidates participate in information sessions, as well as physical and mental health assessments, to determine if bariatric surgery is appropriate. After surgery, patients attend support groups and receive lifetime checkups designed to keep them on track.
There are four surgical procedures available to patients – sleeve gastrectomy, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, duodenal switch and single anastomosis duodenal switch (SADS). The procedures take approximately one to three hours, depending on the procedure chosen, and require a one- to two-day inpatient stay. There are various individual indications for the different bariatrics surgeries. Papaik had significant reflux so the gastric bypass was the best procedure for her to treat her gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) as well as her obesity.
Papaik says her journey from preparation to procedure moved fairly quickly. Classes began in February, including sessions to prepare her family for what would be expected of Papaik, and the surgery took place in early April. Papaik enjoyed the informative classes and preparation and especially appreciated the support after the procedure. She says it has been very helpful talking to other people who are of similar age or experience about how they are doing.
“This is a complete lifestyle change,” she says. “It’s not just you you’re changing, you also have to inform and educate your family so they can understand what you can and cannot do anymore.”
Papaik has lost more than 40 pounds over the past few months, which has impacted her and her family in a number of positive ways. “It’s significant,” she says. “I’m not worrying about what’s on the scale anymore. It’s the small things I notice day-to-day. I can walk up flights of stairs, carry the kids longer and go on longer walks.”
“I’ve also noticed my shoes don’t fit anymore. They are too big. And my rings don’t fit,” she adds. “I don’t have headaches anymore from my sugar imbalance. I sleep better and my husband says I don’t snore anymore.”
According to Sloan, Papaik’s story is a familiar one and something to share with other patients. “When we see patients like Kara embrace the process and see the results of her hard work, it serves as a great example to others of how you can transform your life.”
In terms of advice, one factor stands out for Papaik. “The education piece was huge for me,” she says. “There are so many misconceptions. People assume those who get weight-loss surgery are giving up on dieting and it’s the easy way out. Oh my gosh, if you only knew. You have to maintain this every day. I think it’s important for people to understand. I’ve had a positive experience.“