In a series of appointments, Keaten sat down with Longstreet Center for Weight Management surgeon Robert Richard, M.D., FACS, and went over her options, as Dr. Richard assessed the optimum path for Keaten’s weight loss goal.
“This process is not something to be entered into lightly,” Dr. Richard said. “There are so many routes to lasting and meaningful weight loss, including bariatric surgery. And even if we decide that surgery is a good option, we want patients to understand that lifestyle change is a big part of weight management long-term.”
After years of awkwardness and discomfort, it was a realization and commitment that Keaten was ready for. So, she took into account all the information that Dr. Richard provided, including the fact that, post-surgery, Keaten would have to rely on vitamins, water and protein shakes for much of her nutrition – something that will continue for the rest of her life.
“I decided that I’m doing this for me, not anybody else,” Keaten said. “This is a time for me not to be embarrassed. I felt trapped by the weight. And I thought about so many things, for instance, I’ve never been able to do a cartwheel. I know that sounds kind of lame, but even when I was a kid, my gymnastics friends would be doing them, and I didn’t want to try – and when I did my shirt would come up and show my stomach. It was embarrassing, and I want to be able to do a cartwheel.”
Satisfied with Keaten’s dedication to a post-surgery way of living, Dr. Richard helped Keaten choose the procedure he felt would produce optimal results – a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.
“I really like this operation for younger patients because it is a versatile option,” Dr. Richard said. “Keaten has a lot of life to live and doing the simplest operation to get effective weight loss is a good option for a young patient.”
During the procedure, also called a surgical sleeve gastrectomy, Dr. Richard makes several small incisions so that he may remove 85 percent of the patient’s stomach. The operation changes the way a body digests and processes food and thus changes the metabolism of the body. The result is that patients generally lose two-thirds of their excess weight within a year. Generally well tolerated, many gastric sleeve patients are up and walking the same day of the procedure.
In Keaten’s case that almost meant straight out of the hospital and into the gym.
“In fact, I was out of the hospital early and two days afterwards I was already on the treadmill,” Keaten said. “It was amazing.”