"All my life I’ve been big,” says Pedro Alfaya. “In high school I weighed over 200 pounds. Several times I lost weight and could never keep it off.”
A few years ago, he began to notice the success people were having with weight-loss surgery at Manatee Memorial Hospital, and he made an appointment with Stelios Rekkas, MD, FACS, FASMBS, medical director of bariatric services. Alfaya was approved for surgery, but then got cold feet. “A year later, I was at 333 pounds,” he says. “I knew I had to do something.” In March 2017, he moved ahead with gastric sleeve surgery.
With this procedure a large portion of the stomach is removed, increasing the feeling of fullness and decreasing hunger. Alfaya says that what stood out initially was how quickly he was able to get back to work. “I didn’t experience much pain, just a little discomfort,” he says.
“They’re very thorough,” he says of his weight-loss team. Through the comprehensive program, he learned what to expect, and he attended seminars and support groups, which helped him be successful. “I eat everything I used to before,” he says, but he manages his portions and exercises regularly. “Before I could barely walk, now I run,” Alfaya says.
Since his surgery, Alfaya cut his weight almost in half and now hovers around 170 to 175 pounds. One thing he enjoys best about his newfound health is just being able to get up and go, without the extra pounds holding him back.
“Dr. Rekkas let me be the one to decide when I was ready and didn’t make me feel rushed. For me that was important.”
In a word, Alfaya describes his experience as amazing. “Amazing staff, amazing, support, amazing facility … overall, it was a very good experience.”
Bariatric surgery can provide an effective tool for certain patients who have been unsuccessful with other weight-loss efforts. Achieving long-term success requires a lifelong commitment to a healthy diet and lifestyle. “We really work on getting our patients empowered, pushing them and helping them through every aspect of weight loss,” says Dr. Rekkas.