MANCHESTER, MO. (KTVI) - Obesity was a big problem literally and figuratively for a Manchester family. Dad, Mike Caldwell battled his weight all his life. He eventually reached 444 pounds. His wife, Shelly was overweight as a child. As she got older and had kids, the pounds piled on until she reached 415 pounds.
Their 19-year old son, Mike remembers being overweight in kindergarten and it got worse as he went through school. Finally, he tipped the scale at 485 pounds.
All those extra pounds not only interfered with their daily activities, but also brought health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Finally, Mike decided he'd had enough. He wanted to be around for his family and able to play with his kids. He decided on weight loss or bariatric surgery and Shelly and son, Mike decided to join him. Bariatric surgeries work by restricting food intake and some calories and nutrients.
Dr. Esteban Varela of Washington University performed gastric bypass surgery on the dad. Mike went into the program weighing 410. A year after surgery, he weighs 227, a loss of 183 pounds including 70 pounds he lost preparing for his operation.
Shelly and son, Mike had another surgery called laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. Mike has dropped from 485 to 332 and plans to lose another 110 pounds. Shelly has lost 96 pounds so far, 385-289, and wants to lose another 120. The family has lost a collective 432 pounds in the past year.
It's not just the look of their bodies that is changing, so is their health. Mike the father, is no longer on medication for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Son, Mike says his feet, knees and back no longer hurt all the time. And Shelly is off her blood pressure medication, takes just one pill for diabetes and hopes to get off that as she continues to lose weight.
All the family members say it has changed their lives and definitely for the better. They still have to exercise, eat healthy meals and take vitamins and minerals.
Weight loss surgery is an option for people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 (figured comparing height to weight) or a BMI of 35 with diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc. Patients have to be evaluated and approved by a dietitian and behavioral therapist before undergoing the procedure.
Anytime you do surgery, there are risks of bleeding or infection. With this type, there's a chance of leaks in 1 to 2 percent of cases. But Dr. Varela says patients are monitored closely and treated aggressively. He describes bariatric surgery as being as safe as having your gall bladder removed or your hip replaced.
Bariatric surgery is expensive. It can run around $1,500 dollars.
However, most insurance companies usually cover it.
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