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Set Up for Success

Posted on January 14, 2021 in Bariatrics

South Knoxville man loses weight, gains confidence at Fort Sanders Center for Bariatric Surgery

Despite regular physical activity, Josh Ellis has struggled his whole life to find and maintain a healthy body weight. Ellis lives in South Knoxville with his wife and two daughters, and in addition to his fulltime job, takes care of his farm. He sought weightloss options at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, and after undergoing bariatric surgery in 2019, found confidence in himself and his size.

Before surgery, daily activities like mowing lawns and feeding the farm animals put strain on Ellis’ joints. He recalls knee and shoulder pain in particular. “I was tired of being big. I woke up one day and realized I wanted to live longer. I wanted to watch my kids grow up and eventually see grandkids. The lifestyle I had was not going to accommodate that.”

Last year, Ellis attended an informational seminar about weight-loss surgery where he met Jonathan Ray, MD, board certified general and bariatric surgeon at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. Knowing other people who had success with Dr. Ray and bariatric surgery, Ellis knew he was in good hands. At his heaviest, Ellis weighed 415 pounds and had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 53. He took medication to curb his high blood pressure and slept with a CPAP machine to treat his sleep apnea.

Gastric Bypass

Ellis underwent robotic gastric bypass surgery in December 2019 at Fort Sanders Regional. Gastric bypass surgery changes how your stomach and small intestine handle the food you eat. Using a laparoscopic incision, the surgeon reduces the stomach size and creates an outlet to the small intestine, or a “bypass.” The result is a person feeling satiated with less food.

Robotic-assisted surgery uses a robotic platform that combines a surgeon’s skill with computer-enhanced laparoscopic technology. Robotic-assisted surgeries are minimally invasive, leading to less pain, shorter hospital stays and a quicker recovery.

In one year, Ellis lost 225 pounds and reports no sign of sleep apnea or high blood pressure, and no longer requires medication.

Ellis’ wife has helped him every step of the way. He says, “She’s been phenomenal. I think it would be impossible not to have someone supporting you. They may not understand exactly what you’re going through, but they know you’re undergoing a change.”

Education is Key

Dr. Ray says, “We want people to know this option is available to them. For many patients, weight loss remarkably improves their heart’s ability to beat. We see patients reverse heart disease and coronary artery disease, resolve diabetes and improve cholesterol.” He continues, “When they see the change in themselves, it’s freeing, like a burden lifted, and Josh Ellis is an example of that. He worked hard and got his life back.”

Ellis recalls, “Dr. Ray was very thorough and explained what to expect, even weeks and months after surgery.” At Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, where he spent one night, he says his care team was “there ‘on the spot.’ If there was any twinge, they checked it out and made sure I had all my medications. They cared for you and did not want you to hurt.”

To anyone considering a similar procedure, Ellis advises to be selective when researching, and consider the information source. He says, “Make your mind up that it’s going to be a lifestyle change before you have the surgery. Then, I say go for it!”