MedWatch 7- Weight Loss Surgery from Medwatch 7 KSWO on Vimeo.

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Weight loss surgery can be life changing for some people. It’s a big decision that should come with a lot of thought and preparation. For one woman, she knew it was a decision she wanted to make. And just a year after the surgery, her results are inspiring.

After trying different diet and exercise programs, and seeing no long-term results. Heather Utsinger decided to have weight loss surgery.

“I needed to do something extreme because I was unhealthy. I weighed 327 pounds, and that’s just acceptable for somebody who is 34 years old,” said Utsinger.

She spent over 2 years researching, until she made the decision that surgery was right for her. And then last year, on April 13, Heather had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, and from that point on, she has completely changed her lifestyle.

“I’ve lost 150 pounds in 9 months, I am way more active now than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I exercise every single day. I have a strict diet that I follow. I don’t eat sugar, carbs, I drink 100 ounces of water a day,” said Utsinger.

In just 2 weeks after the surgery, Heather had lost 27 pounds.

During a Vertical sleeve gastrectomy, Doctor’s remove about 85 percent of a patient’s stomach.

“The stomach goes from about the size and shape of a football, to about the size and shape of a banana,” explained Dr. Michael Sawyer.

Dr. Michael Sawyer of Comanche County Memorial Hospital performed Heather’s operation. The surgeon says, weight loss surgery is not just a walk in the park. And it’s not just a fix all.

“The surgery is a tool. It’s not a lifelong key to do whatever you want. The surgery will carry the weight as far as, it’ll be the spear head as far as getting the weight off for about a year to two years. But after about a two years it will give you that chance to make those adjustments, but if you haven’t made those adjustments then you may get the weight back on. That happens with every single bariatric operation that’s out there including gastric bypass,” explained Dr. Michael Sawyer.

Heather has bought her own workout equipment for her home, so she says she has no excuse. She says she is only 17 pounds away from her goal weight. She has big plans for when she gets there.

“Once I reach my goal weight of 160. I’m going skydiving. That’s something I would have never done at 327 pounds. Because I wouldn’t have even think it would be feasible,” said Utsinger.

“I think it’s a great thing. It’s very satisfying to see someone come back in for a follow up who has totally turned their life around, transformed it in the positive way. They feel much better. They’re more active. They make better food choices which makes them feel healthier,” explained Dr. Michael Sawyer.

Each patient meets one on one with a doctor to really provide each person with the best care possible. The vertical sleeve gastrectomy is the most popular and most common weight loss surgery out there currently, and Dr. Sawyer says it requires about 1 to 2 weeks of recovery time.

“It’s not just a walk in the park. It’s a major operation. You’re taking out the majority of a major organ in your body so there are ramifications to that,” explained Dr. Michael Sawyer.

Heather says it’s been a learning process but it’s been the best decision of her life. And the only regret she has, is not doing it sooner.

“I think the best part, is that I have a life. I’m just a completely different person. I’m active, I get out of the house. I do things that I would have never done. and it’s just amazing,” said Utsinger.

Heather says she’s received an outpouring of support from friends and family. she says her new lifestyle has convinced some of her friends and her husband joining her in her weight loss journey.

In other medical News -Comanche County Memorial Hospital will hold Free Heart Screenings on February 15th starting at 7:00 in the morning until 3:00 p.m. in the Maple Conference Room. The screenings will include EKG, Heart Risk Assessment, Blood Pressure, BMI and Finger Stick Glucose.

And on February 17th CCMH will host a Healthy Heart Luncheon at 11:30 in the morning, featuring Cardiologist Dr. Ayirala. She’ll talk about heart disease in women, the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, and how to modify risk factors for a healthier life. The cost of the lunch is $5. Seating is limited, so please RSVP by calling 580-585-5406.

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