Woman struggling with infertility gains new hope and health benefits with weight loss surgery

A Life Gained

Patient finds that weight loss surgery yields many benefits

smiling woman holding her dog on a walking path

Meg Appel, who has lost 160 pounds since her weight loss surgery, and her husband, Jeff, now take walks as their special treats instead of indulging in sugary desserts. Here she is with Gus, their cavalier King Charles spaniel.

When Meg Appel and her husband started seeing fertility specialists a few years ago, none of the tests indicated why they were having trouble conceiving. But one doctor brought up a potential issue that wouldn’t show up in screenings: Meg’s weight.

To increase her chances of getting pregnant, Meg would need to lose a significant amount of weight. She took the doctor’s advice to heart and reached out to Inova Fair Oaks Hospital, which has an extensive bariatric surgery program. In addition to weight loss surgery, there is the Inova Medical Weight Loss Program that pairs patients with physicians, dietitians, nurses and psychologists. It’s all part of ensuring long-term success that’s tailored to each patient’s needs, says Amir Moazzez, MD, a bariatric surgeon at Inova Fair Oaks.

“There is a good deal of education that has to happen before we do something like weight loss surgery,” he says. “If you don’t address successful eating habits, lifestyle changes and activity levels, then this type of surgery will work only in the short term.”

After consulting with Dr. Moazzez, Meg decided to have weight loss surgery, and she went through the educational steps necessary to take her forward — including meeting with a psychologist to discuss emotional triggers for overeating. She also worked with an Inova dietitian to lose some weight before her surgery day.

“Inova helped me to get ready for the surgery on every level: physically, emotionally and mentally,” she says. “I understood that this would be altering my body, so I needed time to really think about whether I wanted to do that, and Inova gave me the resources I needed to prepare myself for that.”

Moving toward lifelong change after weight loss surgery

Since having her surgery in October 2015, Meg has lost 160 pounds, and she and her husband are much more confident about their fertility options. But what she’s found is that the potential for conceiving a child is only one of the many changes that she’s experienced since losing the weight.

She and her husband now find plenty of ways to stay active and are gearing up for their first 5K run, which Meg says never would have happened if she had maintained that heavier weight. They also eat much better, and now their “treats” are going for walks or hikes instead of sharing sugary desserts.

“I’m so grateful for the Inova program,” says Meg. “They do a wonderful job of getting you prepared in every way for such a major life change. And they do it in a way that focuses on long-term success, not just on post-surgery changes.”

How obesity presents multiple health risks

Dr. Moazzez adds that many people who are obese may not realize how much weight is affecting every aspect of life, from sleeping poorly to spending less time with family to boosting risks for serious medical conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Meg knows that even with her weight loss, obesity is a lifelong condition that requires support and resources so she doesn’t fall back into the emotional traps that brought her to Inova in the first place.

“Weight loss surgery helped me a great deal, but it wasn’t the only thing that allowed me to lose weight,” she says. “It’s a tool that’s part of a larger program, geared toward helping patients improve their quality of life. It has truly helped set me on a better path.”

Inova is nationally recognized for Weight Loss Surgery

With its nationally recognized and comprehensive bariatric surgery program, Inova Fair Oaks Hospital is committed to tailoring weight loss treatment to each patient. Surgeons at Inova have performed more than 8,000 bariatric procedures. Learn more at inova.org/weightloss or call 703-348-4716.

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