“Everything is much more exciting. I feel I can do whatever I want to do.”
It wasn’t easy for this Manchester, Conn., resident, now 62, to decide to have surgery because it felt like failure. “I didn’t want to admit that I needed to have someone surgically rearrange my insides in order for me to lose weight,” she says. “It seemed so drastic. It took me a couple of years to make the decision.”
Brunton was tipping the scales at 320 pounds, and she couldn’t seem to stop that number from going up. “I was sad and angry at myself,” she says. “I thought I was fairly intelligent and knew the right things to eat, but I couldn’t control my eating.”
It was all the more painful because Brunton had watched her mother, who was obese her entire life, die from complications of diabetes. The final straw came when Brunton was told that one of her knees should be replaced. “I decided that before I started replacing parts, I needed to fix my body,” she says. “My health—both physical and mental—was my motivation.”
Like hundreds of thousands of people each year, in 2013 Brunton had gastric bypass surgery. The Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), is considered “the gold standard” of weight- loss surgery and is the most commonly performed bariatric procedure worldwide.
Its outcomes can be life-changing. The ASMBS says gastric bypass produces significant long-term weight loss—60 to 80 percent of excess weight. It restricts the amount of food that can be consumed, typically boosts energy and produces favorable changes in gut hormones that reduce appetite and don’t leave you with that feeling of still being hungry.
She says having the surgery was one of the best things she’s ever done for herself. “I had a lifetime of weight problems that eventually led to morbid obesity,” she says. “I suffered from depression, high blood pressure, arthritis in my knees, diabetes, high cholesterol and sleep apnea. I frequently needed to walk with a cane. The only way I could get a good night’s sleep was with my CPAP [continuous positive airway pressure] machine.”
Today, Brunton, who is 5’8” tall, weighs about 165 pounds. “I have much more energy,” she says. “I have a personal trainer and have started doing yoga. I wear the smallest clothing size I’ve ever worn as an adult. My husband and I have a much better, more loving relationship. Everything is much more exciting. I feel I can do whatever I want to do.”
She marvels at her flat tummy. She no longer takes medications or suffers from sleep apnea. Her cane is sitting in a corner collecting dust. “My cardiologist said he has no reason to see me anymore,” she says.
Brunton, who works for an insurance company, credits her success to Dr. Raftopoulos. “It’s because of him that I’ve done so well. He is caring, knowledgeable—the most supportive doctor I’ve ever had. He was in contact with me by phone daily for the first week or two after my surgery and is always available by email. Even at almost three years post-op, he still responds immediately to any emails concerning my health.”