Couple Loses 200 Pounds Together

Dubuque couple finds new life after adjustable banding procedure at Genesis

Keith Bakey knew it was time to lose weight when he lacked the energy to play sports with his three children. He never ice skated with them, worried that relying on a thin blade to support his 355-pound body would injure his ankles.

His 296-pound-wife, Tammy, knew it was time to lose weight when her doctor warned that children of obese parents have a propensity to be overweight. She remembered being the chubby child in the first-grade class photo. She didn’t want her own healthy kids to go down that path.

Keith and Tammy Bakey

Keith and Tammy Bakey of Dubuque
have lost more than 200 pounds
together after each had an adjustable
gastric banding procedure at the
Genesis Center for Weight Management.
Now, the two have the energy
to enjoy ice skating at the Mystique
Ice Center in Dubuque.

Time and again, the Dubuque, Iowa couple had tried expensive diets and lost weight, only to gain back even more. Tammy’s mother had experienced great results with Rouxen- Y gastric bypass surgery. The Bakeys, however, wanted a less-invasive surgical weight-loss option.

The two learned about laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding when they attended a seminar at the Genesis Center for Weight Management in Davenport. An alternative to gastric bypass, the Lap-Band® system doesn’t require cutting or stapling the stomach or re-routing the intestine.

For the Bakeys, it seemed a perfect fit.

Restricting food intake

The Lap-Band system involves the laparoscopic placement of an inflatable silicone band around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch that limits food intake, reduces appetite and slows digestion.

“The band closes and is adjustable through a small port just under the skin that we can access through a small needle. It can be tightened by adding more saline or loosened by removing saline depending on the patient’s feeling of restriction,” said Matthew Christophersen, M.D., FACS, Medical Director of the Genesis Center for Weight Management. “When food enters the upper stomach, patients feel full, they eat less, consume fewer calories and lose weight slowly over time.”

It’s one of three weight-loss options offered at the Genesis Center for Weight Management.

“I used to eat four pieces of chicken and a couple of helpings of potatoes at one sitting,” Keith, 40, says. “Now, I’m lucky if I can eat a piece of chicken and a quarter-cup of potatoes. Portion control used to be such a challenge for me. It’s a bit of a learning curve, but the Lap-Band helps me to stop eating when I’m full.”

Tammy, 40, adds: “The Lap- Band is a tool that helps you reduce the quantity of food you eat. However, losing weight still comes down to willpower and controlling what you put in your mouth.”

A new life

Lap-Band SystemTammy had her surgery first in June, 2009. Once she recuperated, Keith had his surgery a month later. The surgeries were performed by surgeon Michael Phelps, M.D., FACS, of the Genesis Center for Bariatric Surgery.

A year-and-a-half since their surgery, Keith has lost 127 pounds, and Tammy has lost 85 pounds. Both plan to lose more in a weight-loss journey that typically takes five years.

“It was helpful to do this with my husband,” Tammy says.

“We’re learning a new lifestyle together. We’re each other’s cheerleader, and at times, we can be each other’s saboteur. In our case, it has made an already-strong relationship even stronger.”

Last spring, the couple ran their first 5K race on Mother’s Day weekend in Minneapolis. It was a life-changing event that shows how much more active they have become.

Keith remembers how tired he felt when their kids -- a 7-year-old son and 6-year-old twin boy and girl -- would beg him to play catch. “I was exhausted after work and would be huffing and puffing when I played with the kids,” he recalls. “I wanted to be around to see my kids graduate, but at the rate I was going, I didn’t know if I would be.

“Today, I have the energy to go rollerblading, ice skating, play catch and play hockey out in the driveway.”

Losing weight also has cured his sleep apnea and lowered his high blood pressure and cholesterol, he says.

The couple’s healthier habits have spread to the entire family, Tammy says. “My children pay much more attention to their food choices, and we eat much healthier. And because we eat a lot less, we spend far less money on groceries and going out to restaurants.”

Keith concludes, “The staff at the Genesis Center for Weight Management was great. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

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