Des Williams

Des Williams is a one-percenter – an alpha athlete good enough to earn a University of Georgia football scholarship, a successful business contractor, and a loving husband and father. Despite all the successes, there was one aspect of his life he could not seem to control, however: his weight. Beginning around 2009, Des watched as his waistline slowly increased and his health declined. Until, in 2023, he found himself battling high blood pressure, sleep apnea, chronic fatigue, and a weight of almost 330 pounds. However, since meeting the team at Longstreet Clinic Center for Weight Management, and having the gastric sleeve surgery, he has not only been able to control his weight, but in just four months he is already down more than 80 pounds.

Benefits of weight loss surgery

  • Normalized Blood Pressure
  • Normalized Blood Cholesterol
  • Type II Diabetes Disappears
  • Asthma Relief
  • Lowered Risk of Heart Disease
  • And More.

To learn more about the benefits of weight loss surgery, click here or call 770-288-5155.

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Ready to tackle life.

“I have a lot of responsibilities, and I’m just always kind of go, go, go – which means health and nutrition were often the last of my worries,” said Des, now 38 and a Buford resident. “I didn’t necessarily look bad because I have the frame to carry weight OK, but I had blood pressure problems, I wasn’t sleeping, and I just had no energy – and I’d always been a very energetic guy. It was getting really hard on me.”

In his time of need, two very familiar aspects lit the path to salvation: football and teamwork.

Football came to the rescue in the form of relationships made through the game: Des reconnected with old gridiron buddy Derek Tiller only to discover that the former offensive lineman now tipped the scales at a svelte 209.

Teamwork happened because of how Tiller lost the weight: The care providers at Longstreet Clinic’s Center for Weight Management.

“I was just on Facebook one night and saw one of my good friends, and that son of a gun was so much thinner and looked great, and he was standing next to Dr. (Robert) Richard,” Des said. “I called Derek that night, and he told me about the Center for Weight Management and what they’d done for him. I called Longstreet the next day and got an appointment to see Dr. Richard the day after that.”

A Team Approach

At the Center for Weight Management, Des found an atmosphere that was comfortingly familiar for the former Bulldog running back: A talented, dedicated, and supportive team working together to help him be at his best.

“I think the biggest thing was accountability. When you play football at the level I did, you’re accountable to your teammates, who are all really talented. This situation is super parallel, because once you select the bariatric solution that’s right for you, everything involved is going to help you physically be accountable,” Des said. “There’s a lot of resources at Longstreet, with the dieticians and support staff and doctors that are going to help you be accountable to your weight goals.”

Dr. Richard, FACS, helped Des determine the best bariatric solution for his situation – which turned out to be a gastric sleeve surgery.

The gastric sleeve procedure, also called the vertical sleeve gastrectomy, inhibits the amount of food a patient can eat by removing about two-thirds of their stomach. A permanent procedure, the gastric sleeve renders the patient’s stomach into a tube or sleeve shape that can contain about a half to a full cup of food. Over time, ingesting drastically reduced amounts of food typically leads to dramatic weight loss.

In Des’s case, he saw impressive results at astonishing rates.

“I had my surgery on July 20 and [by early December 2023] I’m about 81 pounds down. I really didn’t think I’d be this far along this quickly, so I’m super excited about it,” he said. “Before surgery, my A1C levels were right at pre-diabetic. Now, they’re all normal; all my labs are normal. And my sleep apnea was really off the charts, but it went away really about a month after surgery, so no more snoring, no more CPAP. That was probably one of the biggest wins from a health perspective. And having more energy, having more stamina, and having a good physical appearance and outlook has tremendously help me over these last three-four months for sure.”

You may think Des’s success is down to his history and natural gifts as a former Division I athlete – but he says that could not be farther from the truth. Nor is his weight loss the result of a magic (surgical) bullet. In fact, it’s a combination of new physical realities and reshaped mental approach to food and eating.

“A lot of people think that when you get bariatric surgery that it’s a magic pill or going to be the end-all, be-all. And Longstreet, Dr. Richard, and everyone we’ve been in contact with does a really good job helping you understand that there’s a lot of work that goes into it,” Des said. “Even after surgery, you still have to work hard, diet, and exercise – doing what you need to do to help do what the surgery is supposed to. The tool [surgery] itself is not losing the weight, you’re losing the weight.”

It is a crucial understanding. Without it, there’s a chance that Des – or any initially successful bariatric surgery patient – could regain his weight. That’s because the surgically altered stomach can still stretch out over time and allow the patient to start eating larger portions again.

“I think the key is understanding that you still have to make some lifestyle changes. You can’t eat the same way you did before,” Dr. Richard said. “These operations aren’t going to force anyone to eat that way – they’re going to help patients to learn how to eat a different way and have a different relationship with food. And I think that’s the biggest take home message I’d tell Des or anyone – including prior athletes.”

Being a former athlete is part of why Des found himself in the situation he was in.

“My whole life, not just college, you’re praised by eating as much as you can and being as big as you can. Plus, you get used to burning so many calories, and being an athlete at that level you kind of have to have a type A personality, so you do everything full tilt. That’s why a lot of former athletes have similar issues,” said Des, who roamed the Sanford Stadium turf at about 260 pounds. “Now I’m, down to about 244, and my goal weight is about 220 pounds. And the great thing is I can still eat a lot of what I want – chicken and some steak – I just eat it in tiny portions. I may eat at Chipotle, but one serving from there lasts four meals for me!”

He is also back attacking each day with full vigor. And Des hopes his story can encourage others, including fellow athletes, to know there are tools for success available.

“I work all day, and then I might work in my yard 2-3 hours till the sun goes down, then I still have energy to take my son to the gym or maybe his training or watch his games. It’s great,” Des said. “Because of the surgery and accountability that I have with Longstreet, I know I have what I need to be successful. And I’m blessed to have this opportunity and all these great people working with me. My only wish is that I’d done it sooner.”

No surgery is without risks. To learn of all the potential risks with weight loss surgery, click here.

More Patient Stories

The decision to have weight loss surgery is more than just a quick fix – it’s a lifelong journey. But for many who make the decision to change their lives, the long-term effects mean more than just a smaller number on the scale. We invite you to explore just a few of the many tremendous stories we witness each day.

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Locations We Serve

Longstreet Clinic Center for Weight Management has three convenient locations across Northeast Georgia plus telehealth options making appointments available across the U.S.