Weight-Loss Surgery Patient at Genesis Still Happy After 15 years
Jane Dohrmann is convinced she’s alive today because she had weight-loss surgery 15 years ago. She’s active, social, energetic, and healthy – a very different person than when she was 190 pounds overweight and in a downward spiral from overeating and inactivity.
In 2003, her life began to change for the better when, at age 61, she became the Genesis Center for Weight Management’s second bariatric surgery patient.
“Every day, I’m glad I made the decision to have surgery,” Dohrmann of Bettendorf says. “I really don’t think I would be around today if I hadn’t had the procedure.”
Fifteen years after surgery, it’s sometimes easy to take for granted the joy of being able to fit into a chair or seatbelt or to walk by a mirror to see a much-thinner version of herself. Before surgery, her life was a series of obstacles. Clothes didn’t fit, diets didn’t work, restaurant booths were out of the question, and going shopping was too exhausting.
“My days were spent going to work and coming home to the couch and chair,” she recalls. “I ate anything and everything, and my acid reflux was so bad that everything I ate came back up. I had sleep apnea. When I went out socially, I sat in the corner. To dance, I was two steps and out of breath. I was taking myself to a point where there wasn’t going to be a return.”
Her acid reflux problem brought her to general surgeon Matthew Christophersen, M.D, FACS, of Davenport Surgical Group, P.C., who was leading efforts at the time to open a bariatric surgery center at Genesis. Dohrmann would be his very first bariatric surgery patient.
Instead of surgery to prevent stomach acid from bubbling up into her throat, he suggested a more permanent solution – a gastric bypass procedure called Roux-en-Y.
Changes Over 15 Years
Today, the Genesis Center for Weight Management has performed more than 1,900 weight-loss procedures. Fifteen years later, Dohrmann still has a yearly appointment at the center and receives any support from there she needs. Weight-loss surgery patients must meet certain criteria before being scheduled for surgery, must follow dietary, exercise and medical guidelines, and be dedicated to follow-up care for the result of their lives.
Dr. Christophersen, medical director for the Center for Weight Management, has been part of many bariatric surgery success stories over the years, but the 15th anniversary of his first bariatric surgery is special.
“It’s very fulfilling to see Jane so happy 15 years after surgery and that she still considers the Genesis Center for Weight Management her home base for her medical needs,” Dr. Christophersen says. “She had an open procedure when we started the program. Within a few years, the Genesis center was able to incorporate laparoscopic techniques for this surgery and also for those patients who need revision or conversion surgery.
“With the laparoscopic approach, patients spend less time in the hospital and can return to life and their usual activities in a shorter amount of time.”
Back in 2003, Dohrmann didn’t mind the open procedure and longer recovery; for her, it was an opportunity to take more time to adjust to learning new skills and adhering to a very different lifestyle. Ten years later, in 2013, her sister had the laparoscopic Roux-en-Y. Today, the center also offers the sleeve gastrectomy procedure.
At the time she had surgery, many Quad Citians were unfamiliar or negative about bariatric surgery, Dohrmann recalls. Today, it has gained more acceptance and it’s more common to know someone who has had weight-loss surgery.
Dr. Christophersen agrees: “For the past 15 years, our Genesis bariatric surgery patients have been out in the community, living more productive lives with less illness and better control of their weight-related conditions. Family, co-workers and even their referring physicians have seen that success, and attitudes have changed. Especially with laparoscopic approaches, bariatric surgery over the past two decades has become safer so patients have fewer complications and long-term problems.”
He adds, “Two decades also has provided more evidence that weight-loss surgery can significantly impact control of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and long-term pharmaceutical costs because medication use and the cost of caring for patients after weight-loss surgery goes down significantly. Today, we have excellent studies that show significant improvements in weight-related illness and even lower cancer rates after surgery.”
Jane Dohrmann is not only healthier, but she embraces having the ability to go for walks and tackle projects she formerly had lost the energy to do. The retired banker likes to go to social functions, work outside, and serves on the board for the condominium community in which she lives.
She concludes, “I wake up with ambition and goals for the day. I’m very happy with my life. I can’t thank the team at Genesis enough for their support throughout the years.”