Station InitiativesWellness Wednesday


The benefits of bariatric surgery

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-11 20:17:04-05

Wellness Wednesday this week is personal to me because I had the chance to interview one of the doctors who transformed my life almost exactly six years ago.

Dr. Rodrick McKinlay is a bariatric surgeon, and Chief of Bariatric Medicine at Intermountain Healthcare.

In January of 2017 I had gastric bypass surgery, and my health improved dramatically.

For most of my adult life, I was overweight or obese. I had gone through Weight Watchers and achieved my goal weight twice. Then put more pounds back on. I ran marathons and several triathlons, and still gained weight.

By 2016 I hit 300 pounds. I had type two diabetes, sleep apnea, and no energy to be active with my family. I beat myself up for it, thinking I just lacked will power.

Lucky for me, I had a great doctor who asked me to think about every aspect of my life where I demonstrated strong will power. She said some people are born with metabolisms that send the wrong messages. She sent me to Bariatric Surgeon Dr. Rodrick McKinlay who has heard countless stories like mine.

“So, I don't see it so much as a willpower. In fact, I think there's always part of that in anything we do in life. But I found that with the patients that I work with a significant number have great amounts of willpower and have put themselves through a lot to try to help their health. So the surgery merely is a tool like any other medicine might be a tool to enhance their ability to eat less, feel healthy, and have their bodies work well,” said McKinlay.

Bariatric surgery changes the whole environment of the digestive system. It’s not just about weight loss.

“I like to talk about metabolism. Because as people understand more about that, they understand how complex it is. Just as an example, when it comes to our height, we may have a few genes that predict how tall we're going to be in, it's relatively predictable. But when it comes to weight and metabolism, there are literally hundreds of genes and hormones inside of the body that influence that,” said McKinlay.

I went through the process to be approved for gastric bypass surgery. It isn’t easy. I had to restrict my diet for a few months, and even now there are things I just can’t eat.

I’ve still gained and lost weight, but not anywhere near where I was. Most of all, my body isn’t constantly telling me to eat more. Sometimes I even forget to eat. And I’ve shed the biggest health problems associated with my weight gain.

“Type two diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, heart disease, you know, all of these things are going to be influenced and, in fact, these surgeries and make significant improvements on these health conditions, oftentimes, even before significant weight loss is seen.”

Doctors follow standards set by the national institutes of health to make sure patients qualify for bariatric surgery. Like any surgery, there are risks. But I am so grateful that my personal doctor convinced me to consider it.