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To Darryl Granata, 63, losing weight had become much more than just wanting to look good; it had literally become a matter of life or death.
“I’ve never been thin, but I really became heavy in the last 10 to 12 years,” he says. “In late 2007, my weight had climbed to 368 pounds. My blood pressure was up, I had become a diabetic, and I was at the point where my weight was making me an invalid.”
Darryl's extra weight also was affecting his ability to do his job as a car salesman.
“It’s hard getting in and out of cars when you weigh over 360 pounds,” he says.
His wake-up call came during a checkup with his doctor, following a successful heart valve replacement.
“The doctor said ‘your heart looks good, but too bad you’re going to be dead in five years.’ I was shocked that he would say something like that, but he said that if I didn’t do something about my weight, my health problems — such as the diabetes — would only get worse, until they eventually killed me,” says Mr. Granata.
That visit with his doctor, plus watching a friend lose a leg to diabetes, was enough to push Darryl toward actively searching for a life-changing solution to his weight problems.
He tried many diets over the years, and even lost 80 pounds after one dieting attempt, but he always put the weight back on.
“Unlike some people, will power wasn’t enough to get me through the weight loss,” he says. “For me, surgery was the only option that I had left.”
After undergoing a series of medical tests, a psychological evaluation, and a six-month lifestyle program — all of which are standard for those considering weight loss surgery — Darryl had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery in January 2008 at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital.
Since the surgery, he:
More important, however, is the improvement in his health, including the diabetes.
“There is a large and growing body of evidence that suggests bariatric surgery provides dramatic and durable improvements in type 2 diabetes and its related diseases,” says Anita Courcoulas, MD, director of Minimally Invasive Bariatric and General Surgery at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital.
While results vary with the type of weight loss surgical procedure, Dr. Courcoulas says:
“These findings challenge previously held ideas that type 2 diabetes is a progressive and irreversible disease,” she says. “Currently, there are no other treatments, either medical or lifestyle modification, which are known to have such profound and sustained improvements in this devastating disease.”
Dr. Courcoulas, who performed Mr. Granata’s gastric bypass surgery, says diabetics who have surgery are often able to stop their insulin medications completely.
This was true in Darryl’s case. His doctor took him off his diabetes medication 10 months after his surgery.
“I still monitor my blood sugar every day, and I’ll continue to do that, but it’s under control now and I’m grateful that it’s no longer doing the damage to my body that it had been doing,” Mr. Darryl says.
“I had to make some sacrifices in my life after the surgery,” he says. “But the rewards far outweigh the sacrifices.”
Note: This patient's treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.