Cheryl Stephens, an accounting professional from Ocean County, battled her weight for most of her life. She diligently tried all the diets and exercise plans, but struggled with the roller coaster of weight loss, followed by weight gain. “I always seemed to end up back where I started,” she recalls.
Eventually, she researched bariatric weight loss surgery, an operation which reconfigures the stomach to need less food. As a result, hunger is reduced. She met with Dr. Bennet Togbe, board-certified bariatric surgeon at Prime Surgicare, to talk about her frustrations.
A Hormonal Roadblock
“Cheryl did everything right in her quest to lose the extra weight,” Dr. Togbe explains. “We learned she had a metabolic hormonal imbalance that was preventing sustained weight loss. One of the few strategies to overcome this medical issue is bariatric surgery.”
Together, Cheryl and Dr. Togbe discussed the different types of weight loss surgery procedures and agreed that the gastric sleeve (also called the sleeve gastrectomy or VSG) would be the right option for her health and lifestyle. “I developed high blood pressure and high cholesterol by the time I met with Dr. Togbe,” Cheryl recalls. “When I was medically cleared to have surgery, I was ready to go, then and there.” On March 22, 2017, Cheryl had the gastric sleeve operation at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold.
Goodbye Size 24 and Hello Size 14
On the day of her surgery, the mother and grandmother wore size 24 clothing. By December 2017, nine months since her operation, her clothing size had dropped to size 14. “I can’t believe this is me saying this, but I’ve lost 98 pounds,” Cheryl laughs. “I am 15 pounds away from goal weight and a “normal” BMI.
Life has changed for her in a myriad of ways, from having much more energy to enjoy living to being treated differently than when she was so overweight. “I don’t feel stigmatized by being the ‘big one’ anymore,” she says. She credits Dr. Togbe for helping her be successful. “Dr. Togbe is very upfront about each step of the process, so you feel well prepared,” Cheryl notes. “You never feel rushed during your appointments and he doesn’t make you feel silly for asking all kinds of questions. He has a very compassionate bedside manner.”
Firsthand Advice from a Gastric Sleeve Patient
Cheryl recommends the Prime Surgicare monthly bariatric support group meeting, attended by several of the Prime Surgicare staff, including the bariatric surgeons. Early on, she asked many questions, but today, she offers insight and advice to others going through the journey.
She also recommends joining a gym, even if you feel you’re “too fat.” “You’ll be surprised by how many bigger people are working out. This is a war many people are fighting, not just you. For me, bariatric surgery was the kick I needed to get the ball rolling — and I’m not stopping until I reach goal weight.”
Dr. Seun Sowemimo and Dr. Bennet Togbe are board-certified and fellowship-trained, general, laparoscopic and bariatric surgeons in NJ. They specialize in minimally invasive weight loss surgery and general surgery procedures including diverticulitis, gallbladder and hernia conditions. They are the top NJ surgeons at Prime Surgicare, with offices in Freehold serving Monmouth and Ocean counties.
To learn more, visit our YouTube channel or call Prime Surgicare at (732)-982-2002.