Jefferson University Hospitals

Carlos Lost 160 Pounds with Jefferson's Help

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Bariatrics - Carlos

"I was wearing pants that were a size 50. I never could have imagined I would be in a size 34 jeans and they would be too big"

Carlos Bates was a health disaster waiting to happen.

At 5 feet 9 inches tall and 348 pounds, his body mass index (BMI) was 51.4 – more than twice the normal range of 18.5 to 24.9. According to weight guidelines, Carlos – "Big 'Los" – was not just obese but morbidly obese and at high risk of a host of serious health conditions including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The warning signs were already there.

Carlos had high blood pressure. He slept only two or three hours a night and usually woke up with a headache. When he did sleep he snored and never really felt rested. And he had chronic back pain.

Yes, he had tried to lose weight but was never able to lose enough or keep it off.

He thought his sleep problems and other issues were "normal." Then he got married and found out what he thought was normal wasn't.

Carlos hadn't been to a doctor in about 15 years. His wife insisted he see a physician. That doctor warned him he wasn't very sick yet, but if he didn't make big changes he soon would be. He learned that sleeping just two hours a night and waking up with headaches was not normal, so he went for a sleep study and was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea.

Clearly, his weight was affecting his health, his life and his job as the public address announcer for college sports games and pep rallies.

Carlos decided it was time to make a dramatic change. That's when he found the multidisciplinary team of weight loss surgery specialists at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals.

Choosing surgery was no small thing for Carlos, who had never had any sort of operation. He discussed all his options with surgeon David S. Tichansky, MD, FACS, director of Jefferson's Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Program.

"The surgery is only a one or two month process from the day you walk into the hospital to the day you are fully recovered, but after that it is really a lifetime of behavior modification and working to keep the new healthier person with us," says Dr. Tichansky.

In order to achieve and maintain that long-term weight loss, Dr. Tichansky and his team continue to follow, work with and support their patients for years. And patients are encouraged to participate in the monthly support group meetings with other patients who have also gone through the surgery.

Carlos opted to have the gastric banding surgery.

Once he made the decision to have the operation, Carlos committed himself fully to the lifelong process including changing his bad eating habits and adding exercise to his regular routine. "My goal was 240 pounds," he says.

At first he didn't notice the weight loss. Then, a few months after his surgery, people started noticing his weight loss and asking him if he was OK, thinking he might be sick. He mentioned it to his wife and she asked if he'd taken a look in the mirror lately. He was noticeably thinner. "From there I just picked up a routine."

He would set challenges for himself like doing 50 push-ups during commercial breaks of Philadelphia Eagles games. And the weight continued to come off.

"When I got to 240, then it was 230, then it was like I think I can make it to 200," he says. "I was wearing pants that were a size 50. I never could have imagined I would be in a size 34 jeans and they would be too big!"

For his job he is on the go a lot, but with a big supply of protein shakes and by making careful food choices when he is eating on the run, Carlos exceeded his weight loss goals and more. Now he has energy to spare and is working on his master's degree while continuing to work two jobs. He's in the best shape of his life – "one day I realized I had done 500 push-ups" – and finds despite all he has going on he has plenty of energy.

"I don't think I could have done it in the condition I was in a year ago," he says. And energy wasn't the only thing he regained.

His blood pressure is now under control without medications. The sleep apnea is gone as are the morning headaches and the backaches.

Also gone is a huge amount of weight – 160 pounds. And with the Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery team's ongoing support, Carlos is confident he will never again be Big 'Los.

"Now they call me 'Little Big Guy.'"

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