Weight Loss Surgery:
Age at surgery: 41
Surgery: Sleeve gastrectomy
Weight loss: 185 lbs.
While Florida’s Disney World is known as "The Most Magical Place On Earth," the magic was limited for Bob Vass of Shelton. At 6’ 7” and 540 pounds, the financial planner physically couldn’t fit on some rides and his weight prohibited him from others. That hasn’t stopped him from visiting the Magic Kingdom a whopping 54 times. Despite the physical challenges he experienced getting around the park, “My knees hurt, my back hurt…I was barely mobile and in chronic pain,” he says, ““I’m a Disney fanatic."
Even getting there was an ordeal. “My wife and I had to buy three seats on the plane because I had to lift the armrest to use two and ask for a seatbelt extender,” he says. Getting down the aisle meant “going sideways, bumping people all the way.” Traveling in general was always challenging. “I wasn’t able to ride in cars,” Vass says, noting he had to put the seat of his Dodge Ram truck all the way back yet his belly was still up against the wheel. “I couldn’t take taxis. On cruises, I couldn’t do the excursions, which often meant walking tours, because of my size.”
The turning point came during an island cruise when he sat out a day trip to a distillery when he couldn’t keep up with the walking. He struggled to make it up the 10-foot ramp back onto the ship, gasping and in pain and knew he needed help. After researching bariatric surgery online, he found a free seminar through the Bridgeport Hospital bariatric surgery program.
That led to a sleeve gastrectomy with bariatric surgeon Saber Ghiassi, MD. The procedure involves removing 75-80 percent of the patient’s stomach, leaving a “sleeve” behind that restricts the amount of food a patient can eat. This prompts significant weight loss and changes hormones related to hunger. “It’s the best decision I ever made,” he says now, just over a year after his surgery. In addition to losing 185 pounds, he is off medications for high blood pressure, an erratic heart rate and severe headaches.
“Bob is a great example of how bariatric surgery improves health and longevity,” says Dr. Ghiassi. “But it’s not just about adding more years to life, it’s about adding more life to those years.”
“This has changed my life,” Vass says. So much that he has set three goals for himself:
- Go to a mall and buy an outfit off the rack.
- Purchase a Disney sweatshirt that will fit.
- Run a 5k at Disney.
He already signed up for goal #3 and will participate in the Disney run this fall. He has joined a cross fit gym and uses an app on his phone that provides a plan on how to prepare for a 5k.