R&Y Gastric Bypass with Dr. Gregory Dakin - New York, NY

I had been on many, many diets throughout the...

I had been on many, many diets throughout the years. I was a fantastic dieter, but I would usually plateau just short of my goal, get frustrated, and then every time the weight came back, along with a few more pounds. I just couldn't understand why I couldn't stick to eating less and moving more. It all sounded so easy in theory - and I had accomplished much more difficult things. My dad died when I was in high school and my mother was a difficult person to live with due to her alcoholism. However, I picked myself up, put myself through college and graduate school, got a good job, married a good man, and built my own loving, supportive family.

By the time I was 47, I weighed 256 lbs. This amount of weight on my small frame was taking its toll on me. I was tired all the time, my feet and knees were killing me. I was concerned about my health and wondered if I would be around for my family. Also, my weight was negatively affecting my professional life. Since the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to come out differently, I knew I had to try a different approach to my weight problem.

For years I had known that weight loss surgery existed, but I felt shamed by all these diet and exercise purists and their morally superior, "if you'd only eat less and exercise more" attitude. You know the type, while they may know what works for themselves, they have no idea of the struggle the rest of us have with weight issues and view weight loss surgery "as a quick fix for those too lazy to lose weight with a sensible diet and exercise plan." While some of these people may truly believe what they are saying and have good intentions, I believe that many of these people have issues of their own unrelated to weight and enjoy being perceived as experts and relish the opportunity to put other people down.

I finally decided, to hell with you people. This is MY life and I need to do what is RIGHT for ME!!! I went to a support group meeting for weight loss patients and prospective patients at Weill-Cornell's weight loss center. The meeting was moderated by the center’s nutritionists and I met with patients who had surgery. The people were really positive with one another and I felt comfortable with them. I also attended an information session presented by Dr. Dakin. I was surprised to meet other people like me - successful and happy in other aspects of their lives, but confounded by their obesity. I no longer felt alone and ashamed.

They didn't candy-coat things: while this surgery is intended to be a tool to make it easier for someone to eat sensibly and patients lose weight, everyone stressed that the patient is still responsible for making choices with respect to his/her life. I also liked the fact that they didn't push people into any particular type of surgery (or any surgery, for that matter.) I had done a lot of searching online and many facilities seemed to be REALLY pushing lap-band type surgeries – this made me uncomfortable.

I booked a consultation with Dr. Dakin and one of the nutritionists, Liz Goldenberg. First, I met with Liz and I immediately liked her. She’s a straight talker and understood my struggles. I thought I knew a lot about nutrition, but Liz gave me better, more useful information and helped me figure out how to realistically incorporate all these concepts into MY life. The nutritional support they give you at Weill-Cornell has really made all the difference.

My husband and I then met with Dr. Dakin and really liked him. He is very serious and professional. He took the time to answer our questions and I felt confident that I was in capable hands. Dr. Dakin’s assistant, Jill Lim, is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! I met with her before I left and since I knew I wanted the R&Y gastric bypass surgery, she gave me a folder and a “road map” outlining all the things I would need to have completed in order to qualify for the surgery. She is so organized and helpful!! I immediately scheduled the various exams (it took a while) and after she had the results and various letters from my doctors, she was able to get my insurance company’s approval within 2 weeks.

The surgery took place at New York Presbyterian Hospital – an absolutely immaculate facility. From the moment I walked through the door until I was discharged, I was treated with courtesy and respect. Check in was a breeze: I filled out the paperwork, changed into a gown, met with the nurse for a quick check up and IV, then with the anesthesiologist. I walked into the operating room and everyone was in good spirits – I wasn’t a bit nervous. When I woke up, I was in the recovery area with my husband. My mouth and throat felt a bit dry, but I felt no pain. After I was transferred to a room, I laid in bed for a while and later that evening started walking around. The nurses at NYPH are wonderful – they are competent, kind, and caring – everything you hope for in a nurse. When I was finally able to eat, I had a “special delivery” tray from a woman who worked in that department at NYPH who had had weight loss surgery. What a nice surprise and seeing her successful and happy put a smile on my face! Dr. Dakin visited me daily with the group of surgeons that he was training to check that I was recovering well. I felt well taken care of and I didn’t feel any pain until I came home 3 days later.

I have had good support from Weill-Cornell, especially from Liz, the nutritionist, and that this continues to keep me on track. A year later, I had lost over 115 lbs. I’ve been at the same weight for 6 months and I’m really happy. I have more energy and I can do more things with my family. And of course, I love shopping for clothes!

Now that I look back on it, this surgery was like hitting the reset button so I could re-train my eating habits and my attitude about myself. I am now used to smaller portions, as I get full quickly and MUST stop eating no matter how good something tastes. Since I can’t eat as much food, I am VERY picky about my food – it has to fit into my plan for the day in terms of nutritional value and it has to taste good. As women, we sometimes feel guilty about spending any time on ourselves. I was so busy taking care of everyone and everything else, that I didn’t take care of myself. I have to remind myself every day how important I am to my family and that it isn’t being vain to take care of myself – it is absolutely necessary.
So happy for you! He did my gastric sleeve 3 years ago. I have kept it all off. He saved my life. I was 335 and now 170 after a tummy tuck.
What a wonderful accomplishment! Dr. Dakin is a life-saver :)
Love your story! I think the "skinny" people that offer their advice are trying to help, as your stated and your right, they dont understand the struggle with serious weight loss. I'd liken it to a non-addict trying to fix/understand an addict (or vice versa). My husband is a recovering addict and I am not. I can see I dont really understand his struggles. I suppose its human nature to some degree. I'm going to start telling people that want to fix others that the problems/situations are much to complex for them to see clearly, lol! A polite butt out! Im so glad to hear that your surgery went well and you had little pain. God bless! And keep us update on your journey! I love your inspiring life changing story!

My recovery was about a month and then I went back to work...

My recovery was about a month and then I went back to work. I felt sore, but just took things a bit more slowly. During the time I was off, I concentrated on eating correctly - planning my meals, making sure the food was the right consistency, and learning to eat more slowly.

Basically, I followed Liz's advice (she gives a detailed pamphlet on how to transition to various foods during recovery) and all went well. However, I do remember the first time I ate a spoonful of brown rice at about 3 months - I was eating some salmon with vegetables and I was stunned that something as tiny as rice could give me problems.

I feel fortunate to have had such a competent surgeon and fabulous nutritional support. I was talking to the receptionist at my dentist's office the other day and her cousin had this procedure with another surgeon. Although it's been 2 years, her cousin has problems eating - he's either throwing up or in the bathroom

My "After" picture :)

glad that your surgery has worked out so well for you. loved to read your detailed story, I am not so proficient, as you can tell. I will be having my surgery in the next couple of week's.
Hi, I'm getting surgery right there same hospital with doctor Pomps, but he said because of my acid reflux I couldn't do the sleeve but the gastric by pass was a perfect option for me, I'm kinda scared of the by pass because of all the negative side effects. Why did you chose the by pass vs the sleeve?
I was considering the sleeve also, but went with the R&Y bypass because this procedure was covered by my insurance. “Negative” side effects are all relative. For instance, you probably already know that any type of stomach surgery will restrict the amount of food you can eat (at least initially.) You probably already know that the R&Y procedure leaves some patients susceptible to “dumping” syndrome if they’ve eaten food high in sugar and/or fat. And depending on the type of surgery, you probably will need to take some type of vitamin supplements for the rest of your life. Here’s how I’ve dealt with the various side effects. I had to learn to slow down when I ate, and if I ate too fast and didn’t chew my food properly, I quickly learned that I would get this horrible, pressure feeling in the top of my stomach. This happens even if I eat something healthy, like salmon - it DOESN'T matter - the feeling is the same. I also had to learn that it was ok NOT to finish everything on my plate. This was difficult – I grew up poor and wasting food was practically a sin in our house. I've learned to ask for a container when I order at restaurants and put at least half in the container before I start eating. Also, while I don’t buy as much food when I grocery shop, I buy “better” food (so I don’t feel deprived) and plan our meals for the week so none of it goes to waste. I have also experienced "dumping" when I ate food that looked harmless, but was actually fully of grease and/or sugar. For instance, a “healthy” salad from Dinosaur BBQ with roasted chicken, candied walnuts, and cayenne buttermilk dressing mixed in was a recipe for disaster one day. The dressing had too much fat and sugar in it and I ended up in the bathroom at work for about a half an hour. I felt much better after throwing up, but was absolutely astonished at how fast grease went through my digestive system to cause diarrhea! Thank God I was somewhere where I could deal with this! I’ve learned to be more careful and haven’t had a dumping episode since. Taking my vitamin supplements hasn’t been a problem. At first I was taking chewable vitamins and crushing up other pills, but I felt comfortable swallowing whole pills since about 3 months after my surgery. I take my iron pills with some vitamin C when I wake up (I then wait at least an hour before eating), then some calcium with lunch, a multivitamin before I leave work for the day, and then the other calcium pills before I go to bed. Once a week I take vitamin D. I keep a day’s worth of vitamins in a little plastic box that has separate compartments. However, I did become iron deficient and anemic this past spring. After my surgery, I would take my iron pills on an absolutely empty stomach and my iron and hemoglobin levels were fine. But then someone told me that wasn’t really necessary, so I started taking them at dinner and it just didn’t work for me and I’m back to taking them on an empty stomach. Just so you know, I had to have iron infusions to get my iron levels back up. Important advice: If you ever find yourself with low iron & anemia, you will need to see a hematologist. Make sure to pick someone who has experience with bariatric patients. I went to the hematologist affiliated with my primary care physician. This hematologist had never treated bariatric patients and what a mistake! When I met with him initially, he did a stool test that came back negative for blood, so he said I should have a panendoscopy & colonoscopy, “just to be sure.” When those tests came back normal, the gastroenterologist (a young guy who had never seen the insides of an R&Y gastric bypass patient before) said I ought to have a camera endoscopy, “just to be sure.” The hematologist said if they didn’t find anything with the camera endoscopy, that he would then need to do a bone marrow test, “just to be sure.” Really?? I had told him I had R&Y bypass, and it is well-known in the literature that iron deficiency anemia sometimes results from that procedure. I am otherwise healthy, but have iron-deficiency anemia - why was he ignoring the obvious cause? I didn’t bother with the camera endoscopy or bone marrow tests. I decided to get a second opinion and Dr. Dakin’s office recommended Dr. Raymond Pastore. Dr. Pastore is ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL, as are his nurses who give the infusions. They recognized and treated my iron deficiency right away! So, I have figured out how to make the R&Y gastric bypass work for me. Why don’t you go to one of the support meetings and talk to a few more people who’ve had these procedures to hear how they have dealt with the side effects? I found it to be a very helpful experience. I think there is a support meeting tomorrow night at 7PM (check their website.) Good luck with whatever you choose to do!
Dr. Gregory Dakin


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5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
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