Karen L Weight Loss Surgery is a Family Affair

“It made a big difference in my life. If I can help support people in their decision, why not? I had plenty of support.”

Like most, Karen Lynen never expected to be in a position to need bariatric surgery. The 40-year-old, busy mom of three was going to the gym and working out on her own but her customer service job kept her sitting down in front of a computer most days.

When her eldest daughter, in her early 20s, began considering bariatric surgery, Karen accompanied her to appointments with surgeon Naveen Ballem, MD, Director of the New Jersey Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at Clara Maass Medical Center (CMMC). It was there that Karen learned she, too, was a good candidate for bariatric surgery.

“I was 214 pounds at my heaviest but I thought I carried it well. I didn’t realize I would be eligible for surgery,” said Karen.

While originally unsure about undergoing surgery, Karen decided to go for it to support her daughter.

“I knew nothing about bariatric surgery. It was an entirely new world, but we sat down and did our research,” she said.

Once Karen and her daughter had qualified to undergo bariatric surgery, they met with Dr. Ballem to determine which type of surgery would be best for them.

“Dr. Ballem discussed the various options available and we decided to go with the sleeve,” she said.

Ultimately, surgery was scheduled for a few weeks later on March 16, 2012. During the minimally invasive procedure, Dr. Ballem inserted surgical instruments through small incisions in Karen’s abdomen to reduce her stomach to approximately 25 percent of its original size – roughly the size of a banana. As a result, the amount of food Karen would be able to eat before feeling full was significantly reduced.

Just more than two years post-op, Karen has lost a total of 85 pounds. She didn’t expect the results she now sees and is dedicated to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“I assumed I’d lose weight but I didn’t think I was going to lose this much,” she says. “I’m going to make sure I don’t go backwards. I’m enjoying my new lifestyle and feel so much better about myself.”

In addition to going to the gym or walking on her treadmill, Karen watches what she eats and “faithfully” attends weight loss support group meetings to learn how she can continue to add healthy living strategies into her life. She even brings her youngest daughter so that she can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and make good choices when it comes to food.

“After surgery, I realized my problem was my portion size. Over time, I’ve learned how unhealthy I was. Now, everything I learn I try to take home with me and incorporate into my life – whether it’s tips about a new app or recipes to try at home.”

Karen credits her success to the support she received from others in the weight loss support group, as well as Dr. Ballem and his staff.

“I tell anyone who asks me if they should have the surgery to go for it,” she says. “It made a big difference in my life. If I can help support people in their decision, why not? I had plenty of support.”

The Weight Loss Institute of New Jersey at CMMC offers a multidisciplinary approach to weight loss that includes pre- and post-surgery education and counseling. Certified by the American Board of Surgery, Dr. Ballem, along with his staff, is dedicated to helping every patient achieve optimal results. The Center believes that the key to excellent long-term success is consistent follow-up and support from the entire bariatric team.