Lori Naczynski finds new life with bariatric surgery

There’s a reason it’s called “comfort food.” Like many people, Lori
Naczynski found comfort in eating foods that weren’t good for her. Extra sugar, carbs and fat felt like a treat at a time when she needed to be consoled.

Problems with her spine had left the Crossville woman in constant pain that forced her into a wheelchair. Hurting and miserable, the pounds began to pile on as she sat and fed herself. Today, Naczynski looks back and marvels at how far she’s come since she underwent a life-changing procedure at the Parkwest Center for Bariatric Surgery.

Lori N. before and after her weight loss surgery.

Lori N. after her weight loss surgery.

Nothing Worked
Naczynski was constantly hungry and she just couldn’t seem to lose a significant amount of weight, so the comfort food kept coming.
“I continued to do that for, my gosh, five or six years,” Naczynski says. “I would just buy bigger clothes and bigger clothes and I never stood on a scale because I didn’t want to know what I weighed.”

Because she had been slender for most of her life, carrying the extra weight as an adult severely damaged Naczynski’s self-esteem. She dressed in baggy clothes to cover her “back fat,” but her wardrobe choices only made her look bigger. “I made myself look very frumpy because that’s how I felt,” she says.

At a regular check-up in 2018 Naczynski weighed in at 236 pounds. Her doctor told her it was far too much for her 5-foot-2-inch frame to carry for much longer and that there was a risk of  consequences.

About a month later, she heard the same thing from a chiropractor. “And that’s when it made me realize, not only am I leading myself into a life of prescription drugs, now I don’t feel good because
I’m too heavy,” Naczynski says. “That’s what made me think, ‘I really need to take this seriously. I really need to do something to get my health back to some kind of normalcy.’”

A Last Chance
At her job in Crossville, Naczynski met a coworker who had undergone bariatric surgery. Naczynski was impressed and began to wonder if it might work for her. “Then I’m telling myself, ‘No, nothing else helps you – why do you think this is going to help you?’” Naczynski says.

The argument inside her head ended when she decided she should at least try, because she had already tried everything else. Naczynski went online and searched for a bariatric surgeon who might help her. Parkwest bariatric surgeon K. Robert Williams, MD, performed laparoscopic gastric sleeve surgery in October 2019 at Parkwest Medical Center.

After years of diets and exercise that just weren’t working, Naczynski finally began to see results. She closely followed instructions for proper nutrition and stepped on the scale regularly. In seven months Naczynski lost 83 pounds, her pants size went from 18 to 8 and her life was radically changed. “My attitude is great,” Naczynski says today. “I’m not pretending that I’m happy anymore – I really am happy with who I am and where I’m at!”

Coworkers and friends have noticed. Someone even referred to her as “Slenderella.” But Naczynski didn’t need a fairy godmother for a new life. She had a skilled bariatric surgeon and the support of his staff. And much like Cinderella, she is definitely having a ball.

Naczynki now recommends Dr. Williams and Parkwest Center for Bariatric Surgery to anyone who is facing health issues because of stubborn weight. She wants everyone to feel as great as she does. “I’m comfortable in my own skin,” Naczynski says. “I feel healthy, I feel good and I’m absolutely loving life!” For more information about bariatric services, visit TreatedWell.com/bariatrics.

Bariatric Surgical Options

Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding (LAGB)
A prosthetic device is placed around the top of the stomach, increasing restriction as a person tries to consume food.
Gastric sleeve (laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy)
Part of the stomach is removed, limiting food intake. This procedure also prompts hormonal changes that help the process.
Gastric bypass (laparoscopic Roux-en-Y)
A smaller stomach pouch is created (about the size of a golf ball), and the intestine is rearranged to change digestion. This also has the benefit of creating hormonal changes that help increase metabolism and increase weight loss.
Biliary Pancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch
A sleeve gastrectomy paired with an intestinal bypass. Food intake is limited and food that is consumed isn’t digested completely. It results in dramatic weight loss, but is a major surgery reserved for patients who are 200 pounds or more over their ideal body weight.

Am I a candidate for bariatric surgery?

You’ve tried every diet and weight loss program you can think of. You’ve exercised to the point of exhaustion. It’s not working. This is the story many bariatric surgery patients share. K. Robert Williams, MD, a surgeon with Parkwest Center for Bariatric Surgery, has seen weight-loss procedures succeed when all else fails. “It’s a very effective solution to a long-term problem if you’re willing to make the commitment to change your lifestyle,” Dr.Williams says. “Most people can’t achieve these results just with willpower because they’re fighting their own biology.”

Dr. Williams headshot in labcoat
K. Robert Williams, MD

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?
Dr. Williams explains that when we reach out highest weight as adults, the brain makes it a “set point.” “Your body and your brain begin to believe that the highest weight that you’ve been at is where you belong,” Dr. Williams says. “As you diet, your appetite is going up and your metabolism is going down, which tends to keep people at that elevated weight.”

That’s why a majority of people who do lose a significant amount of weight without surgery gain it right back. Weight loss procedures offer a physical restriction on how much food can come into the body, and some procedures also change how the food is processed.

Will It Work for Me?
Cases can vary, but weight-loss surgery is usually performed on people who have a body mass index of 35 or higher. Procedures also help people who have “comorbidities” – medical problems that
are more dangerous because of excessive weight. “People love to get off their medications,” Dr. Williams says. “Especially
people with diabetes. Taking insulin shots every day and checking your blood sugar is literally a pain. It hurts to stick yourself,
it hurts to stick a needle in your body and some patients were doing it three, four or five times a day.”

Dr. Williams has seen patients’ blood pressure corrected, and more than half the patients who had sleep apnea before surgery didn’t need their sleep machines a year later. “It also literally saves them money,” Dr. Williams says. “A lot of people have out-of-pocket expenses for these medications.”
Weight loss results in better self-esteem, too, and the physical ability to do more in life. For some, it might be simply playing with the kids after school or fitting into a seat on an airplane. For others, it can be endurance events like a triathlon.

Dr. Williams emphasizes that bariatric surgery is not a quick fix, but it’s a lifetime commitment to nutrition and self-care. “Weight loss surgery is for folks who are committed to improving their health, their quality of life and making lifestyle changes,” he says. For more information (and an online body mass index calculator), visit TreatedWell.com/bariatrics.