Kathy H Shedding Her Cocoon

"I was hiding for years and now I’ve shed my cocoon."

A Branchburg Resident Loses 115 Pounds Following Gastric Sleeve Surgery and Embraces a New Life.

For years, Kathy Hein hid behind her extra pounds. The weight masked Kathy’s worries and reflected past trauma. When her dad became gravely ill, Kathy, 57, knew it was time for a change. Her father’s dying wish was that Kathy take charge of her health and not follow in his footsteps.

She researched bariatric surgery programs and attended an informational session by the Bariatric Program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset, a designated Center of Excellence in Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. During an initial consultation, Kathy met with bariatric surgeons Ajay Goyal, MD, FACS, Chief of Bariatric Surgery at RWJUH Somerset and Founder of the New Jersey Bariatric Center, and Angela Glasnapp, MD, FACS, of the New Jersey Bariatric Center, to review her medical history and discuss her weightloss surgery options.

A lifelong dieter, Kathy says, “I was never able to get below the 200-pound mark and was skeptical when Dr. Goyal said surgery could help me get there.” Kathy’s pattern was to lose weight—70 pounds with Weight Watchers in recent years—and then backslide when life threw her a curveball. “My dad got sick and I gained 50 of the 70 back.”

When Kathy described how her father’s illness impacted her weight, “Dr. Glasnapp was frank and said, ‘Life will still happen after surgery. You need to learn to deal with your stressors without resorting to food.’ That was a light bulb moment for me. I realized surgery was not a magic pill. It was a great tool, but it wouldn’t make my issues go away.”

It Takes a Team
According to Dr. Goyal, obesity is a chronic progressive disease—the result of genetic, emotional and environmental factors. Bariatric surgery resets the body’s thermostat and decreases hunger by reducing the size of the stomach resulting in weight loss. “But surgery doesn’t change how you live your life. That’s why it’s so important to surround patients with support. We provide a team approach before and after surgery to make sure weight stays off for the long run,” says Dr. Goyal.

Prior to surgery, each patient undergoes a comprehensive medical review, including nutritional and psychological evaluations plus medical testing relevant to their current health. This approach, combined with an experienced, board-certified surgeon, leads to safe and effective long-term results.

Kathy Hein before and after bariatric surgeryDespite weighing 265 pounds, Kathy didn’t have obesity related concerns such as high blood pressure or diabetes. She met with a dietitian who conducted a nutritional evaluation and prepared a dietary plan. And Kathy began taking steps. She bought a Fitbit and logged mile after mile, challenging herself to further distances. She increased her water and protein intake and began weaning herself off sugar and carbohydrates. “That was tough,” recalls Kathy. “Cookies and candy were my downfall.”

In July 2017, Kathy’s father died as she was preparing for surgery. With the support of her family and medical team, she had bariatric surgery at RWJUH Somerset two months later. “Kathy had a gastric sleeve, the most frequently performed weight-loss surgery,” says Dr. Goyal. The procedure causes weight loss by reducing stomach size and decreasing hunger hormone secretions, leading to lower food intake.

One Step At a Time
Kathy lost 35 pounds the first two months after surgery and continued dropping weight steadily with a healthy lifestyle. She met regularly with her nutritionist and kept a food diary. “I still log everything I eat,” says Kathy. “It holds me accountable.” Now down 115 pounds, Kathy weighs less than she did in high school.

And she’s still counting her steps. “I move whenever I can,” she says. “I jog in place in my office and at home while brushing my teeth or blow-drying my hair!” Six months after surgery, Kathy enjoyed a girls’ weekend in Antigua. “I stuck to my food plan and indulged a little. We swam, kayaked and did water aerobics—things I couldn’t do when I was heavy,” says Kathy, who returned from vacation seven pounds lighter.

Today, Kathy has taken a cue from her supportive team at RWJUH Somerset and is coaching women in an online bariatric surgery support group. She’s looking forward to a family vacation in Ireland, capped off with a weekend getaway to Paris with her husband.

“I was hiding for years and now I’ve shed my cocoon,” says Kathy of her newfound confidence. “My dad would be proud.”

To learn more about bariatric surgery, register for a free informational seminar by calling 888.724.7123.