Weight-loss procedure offers patients relief from food cravings

HOUSTON – Nick Bone and his wife recently celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary by renewing their vows.

Looking over pictures together, it’s obvious they share the same love they had five years ago. But the man standing next to his wife today has completely changed -- in the way he looks.

“I've lost, like, right at 200 pounds. When I started I weighed around 415, and I'm around 215 right now,” Bone said.

Like many obese Americans, 30-year-old Nick struggled with his weight for years.

“In college I was around 360, 370 (pounds)," he said. "I ended up losing like 30 pounds, just because I would study and workout a lot. That's all I would do. And then as soon as I graduated college, I started working, and then real life started happening. I gained it all back, and then some."

After tipping the scale at more than 400 pounds -- from years of fast food, sweets and a sedentary lifestyle -- Bone said he knew it was time to make some drastic changes with his weight. 

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A family member had success with the gastric sleeve procedure, so Bone gave it a try.

Dr. John Primomo, a Bariatric Metabolic Surgeon affiliated with Memorial Hermann Memorial City and UTHealth, treated Bone.

“The gastric sleeve procedure has now become the No. 1 (weight loss) surgery performed in the United States and in the world,” Primomo said. “What we're doing is removing about 80 percent of the stomach. We start off with a stomach maybe about the size of a football and then end up with (one) the size of a slender banana."

The gastric sleeve not only reshapes and makes the patient's stomach smaller, it also gets rid of what has been referred to as "hunger hormones," allowing patients to eliminate cravings for unhealthy foods.

“It removes a hormone called ghrelin, which is a big influence on how somebody eats, why they might have cravings for certain bad foods, and also, sort of reward centers that control why someone would want bad foods.”

“That's one of the reasons that we feel that it has worked for patients long term,” Primomo said.
With the removal of ghrelin and a few other hormones, this surgery has become a weight loss game-changer.
“It's not just making the stomach smaller, but how we're changing the whole patho-physiology of obesity,” Primomo said.

Nearly two years after surgery, Bone says the procedure changed his life. He's run two marathons and has a completely new outlook on his place in the world.

“From being, you used to creep in the side of a room and hope nobody noticed you, hope that you never caught anybody's eye," Bone said. "But now it's -- I speak out. (I'm) fitting in a car, buying clothes at a normal store -- things like that."

Both Bone and Primomo stress that the gastric sleeve procedure is only a tool for weight loss. A patient's success, they said, will depend on maintaining healthy eating habits and exercise.

To find out if you are a candidate for the gastric sleeve, click here to fill out the questionnaire.

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