Every day, Lexi Fraser-Tinnian helped patients toward their goals of weight loss and better health. From her role as a bariatric patient navigator at Longstreet Clinic’s Center for Weight Management, Lexi saw others achieve a better life through bariatric surgery.
It was that in-depth contact that convinced Lexi to consider her own surgical weight loss journey.
“I never thought (bariatric surgery) was an option for me until I started working at Longstreet Clinic,” said Lexi, 26. “But after seeing how the staff here treated patients and how it all worked so successfully, I decided to look harder at surgery.”
As it turned out, Lexi was a perfect candidate for surgical weight loss. Despite her youth and repeated attempts at diet and exercise, she was dealing with health issues that stemmed from obesity. Called comorbidities, Lexi struggled with high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, fatty liver disease and gall stones. These are just some of the negative health impacts that stem from having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above. Others include increased risks of cancer, pulmonary disease, arthritis, stroke, heart disease and increased difficulties for pregnancy.
“Carrying a lot of weight runs in my family,” Lexi said. “I went on my first diet at age 7 or 8; I was on and off Weight Watchers just before my teenage years. It seems like I had tried everything without any lasting results.”
Lexi was not alone in this reality. In fact, upwards of 95 percent of people who are more than 100 pounds overweight and have battled obesity for more than five years fail at losing weight and keeping it off for five years.
She also understood what the future could mean by not making a major change. And remission of obesity – which is labeled as a disease and not a lifestyle choice by medical science – is proven to relieve those comorbidities, including remission rates of 70-85% for type II diabetes, 65% for hypertension, 85-95% for sleep apnea and a 50% reduction in cancer risk.
After careful consideration, Lexi approached Center for Weight Management surgeon Eric J. Velazquez, M.D., MBA, FACS, FASMBS, about the possibility of undergoing a Roux-en-Y (RNY) gastric bypass. In this procedure, a golf ball-sized part of the patient’s stomach is surgically divided from the rest of the stomach. The result is a much smaller stomach that severely restricts the amount of food a patient can eat, making them feel full much sooner. The procedure also changes gut hormones, which means patients feel full for longer periods of time (appetite suppression is a key component of post-surgery weight loss).
“Anytime a patient trusts their health to me it means a lot, but to have someone I work with every day come to me and ask for help was really incredible,” Dr. Velazquez said. “And Lexi was a perfect candidate for surgical weight loss, so I was happy for what it would mean for her health and life.”