Procedure helps U-M surgical nurse lose nearly 160 pounds

June 23, 2015  //  FOUND IN: Announcements, Our Employees,

Mandy Pate, R.N., is an operating room nurse whose patients are obese. They come to UMHS for either a gastric bypass or a sleeve gastrectomy. Mandy, age 34, has more in common with her patients than you might suspect, seeing her trim size-12 figure. A year ago, she was a patient herself and had a sleeve gastrectomy performed by members of her own surgical team, including Oliver Varban, M.D.

“It’s been a battle with my weight since I was three or four years old,” she says. “I’ve spent my life constantly dieting and I’ve probably taken every weight-loss medication there is, but in the last few years, I couldn’t even bend over to tie my shoes!”

Since her surgery on April 4, 2014, Mandy has lost 157 pounds, down from a pre-surgery weight of 333 pounds. Before surgery, she wore size 5XL scrubs and size 30 street clothes. Today she wears medium scrubs and size 12 clothing, and says she has much more energy.

“The doctors and staff are wonderful, and these are very safe procedures,” she says.

Mandy’s procedure, the sleeve gastrectomy, involved removing about 80 percent of the stomach. A typical stomach can hold 32 ounces of food and liquid comfortably – after surgery, it can hold 4 ounces of food and is about the size of a banana. She said an unanticipated benefit was that the section taken out produces a hormone to stimulate the appetite. With that section of the stomach gone, she finds she doesn’t feel hungry very often.

Mandy says she used to be afraid of going out, of dealing with tight quarters in unaccustomed places. The surgery made her successful and has given her hope. Her aches and pains are gone, she sleeps better and she knows she’ll live a longer life.

“We have a wonderful support group that includes nutritionists, endocrinologist, psychosocial support and exercise physiologists. It’s a nice support community so the patient is not alone,” she says.

For more information on bariatric surgery as well as post-surgery tips from Mandy, read this blog post.