Dr. de la Cruz-Muñoz leads the Division of Bariatric Surgery at UHealth, the University of Miami Health System. He performs surgery at UHealth Tower in Miami and has an office in Doral, Florida. To make an appointment, call 305-689-1910. For more about bariatric surgery options, visit the University of Miami’s health news blog
Of all the changes retirement brings, Richard Myers did not expect this phase of life to include rapid weight gain and a slew of associated health problems. Yet following his retirement from the Navy, Richard’s weight nearly doubled. In addition to causing worrisome health conditions like diabetes, Richard was stunned by how the weight affected his ability to enjoy everyday life, including sitting in a booth at a restaurant or getting in and out of his car. “Life was difficult, going anywhere was difficult,” he said.
When Richard’s weight reached its peak, he hit an emotional low point. “I was a black hole that sucked everything in. I knew I couldn’t get out of it. You can’t come back from 348 pounds by yourself. I needed help.”
Research led Richard to Dr. Nestor de la Cruz-Muñoz at UHealth, the University of Miami Health System. As chief of the Division of Bariatric Surgery, Dr. de la Cruz-Muñoz works with patients to prioritize goals and choose appropriate interventions.
Bariatric procedures including the gastric balloon, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass each have their own pros and cons. Dr. de la Cruz-Muñoz and his team work with each patient to determine the best fit for their needs. In Richard’s case, factors including an abdominal wall hernia made the gastric sleeve the most logical choice.
In the gastric sleeve procedure, the surgeon removes part of the stomach and leaves the remaining 20 percent of the organ in a tube. This reduces the stomach’s capacity to hold food from one to two liters to about four ounces.
“It’s a big move,” says Richard. “But I knew I had to go forward.”
The gastric sleeve proved to be a great fit for Richard. He has lost 100 percent of his excess weight and is almost completely off his diabetes medication. With the weight gone, Richard was able to safely undergo surgery to repair his hernia. “I’ve enjoyed seeing the pounds melt away,” he says. “I’ve got me back again.”
THE RIGHT SURGERY FOR YOU
Obesity is associated with more than a dozen types of cancer, increased rates of heart disease, and at least 65 other medical issues including diabetes. “Obesity is chronic inflammation in the body, and when the body is chronically inflamed, all sorts of things start going wrong,” says Dr. de la Cruz-Muñoz.
The award-winning UHealth bariatric surgery team uses three factors to help patients choose which procedure best suits them. “We look at a patient’s previous surgeries, current medical conditions, and whether the priority is to improve the medical condition or just to lose weight,” says Dr. de la Cruz-Muñoz. Ultimately, he adds, a patient’s gut instinct is what determines the final decision.
“Bariatric surgery is the most fulfilling of those I’ve done as a general surgeon,” says Dr. de la Cruz-Muñoz. “We really make new people. We give them a second chance at life.”
FOCUSING ON YOU
Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine is a series of healthcare-related stories airing regularly on CBS4. For more stories like this one, visit YouTube channels for UHealth, the University of Miami Health System.
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