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Losing weight is tough and the busier life is — with work, family and more — the harder it is to take off the pounds.

Kristina Plane is no exception. An active wife, mom and career woman, she needed help losing weight.

At 320 pounds, after years of struggling to lose weight on her own, she began searching for a solution that would help her achieve her desired weight without multiple procedures. She decided to schedule a consult at the WakeMed Bariatric Surgery & Medical Weight Loss office. There, she met bariatric surgeon Scott Bovard, MD, FACS, FASMBS and found her answer.

Kristina says, “I originally went in thinking I would get the sleeve, but in my consultation while talking about my goals, my starting weight, where I hoped to end up and my desire to only do one surgery, we settled on the duodenal switch as the best option to get me where I needed to be.”

The Duodenal Switch

In the world of bariatric surgery, the duodenal switch offers one of the greatest weight loss potentials for patients. When compared to other procedures, it also offers health benefits, including minimal risk of dumping syndrome, improved diabetes control and reduced risk for developing ulcer disease following surgery.

The duodenal switch works by creating a sleeve gastrectomy for restriction and hunger control. Then, after the sleeve, the intestines are rerouted similar to a gastric bypass. (Learn more about the duodenal switch.)

Before Duodenal Switch Surgery

One important aspect of bariatric surgery is realizing that it isn’t one and done. Patients must have tenacity and perseverance from the start since they go through several preoperative steps to be in the best mental and physical health for the procedure. For Kristina, this included changing her diet.

“I did not have a requirement to lose weight before the surgery,” Kristina says, “but I lost 15 pounds because I had to go on a liver-shrinking diet. Two weeks before my surgery, the WakeMed nutritionist informed me how many shakes, lean proteins and snacks were allowed. The week of the surgery, I could only have five protein drinks a day.

Besides changing her diet, Kristina’s insurance also required her to go through several health consultations.

“I had to see a clinical therapist to make sure I was in the right headspace and had the right support for post-operative care. The therapist also helped me navigate my life after the procedure, to include being on lifelong vitamins. We discussed the implications of going from being larger and eating larger portions to being much smaller and eating much smaller portions. A lot of people who are overweight have food addictions. She helped me ensure I could adapt to the lifelong changes in lifestyle.”

“I also had to see a dietitian and take dietary courses.” These courses helped Kristina explore healthy eating, good food choices versus bad choices, portion size and portion control. Her dietitian also helped her review the special diet she would be on following her surgery during the healing phase.

“Following surgery, I had to phase back to a normal diet. I was on liquids for the first two weeks. Then, I did purees for a week. Week four, I did soft foods. Thereafter, I needed to slowly phase into a normal diet, seeing what foods I could tolerate.”

Beyond a therapist and dietitian, Kristina had to visit many more specialists.

“I had to meet with a cardiologist to make sure my heart could handle the procedure. To ensure I didn’t have sleep apnea, I had to schedule with Pulmonology & Sleep Medicine for a sleep study. I had to receive clearance for surgery from my primary care provider. I also had to have an endoscopy. They found I had a hiatal hernia which they determined could be repaired during my duodenal switch.”

Kristina also had to do blood work and a couple days prior to surgery, she visited the anesthetist to discuss any allergies.

Kristina’s Big Day

Kristina’s process moved quickly. She had her initial consultation and within weeks, WakeMed bariatric surgeon Dr. Bovard and team performed her surgery on May 24, 2021.

“I was excited the day of my procedure. My husband dropped me off because I had an afternoon surgery time, and he had to go pick up our daughter. The front office staff was very nice and walked me through all the steps. They administered medications prior to my surgery. I had anesthesia and then my duodenal switch began.”

Kristina’s surgery was four hours long since it also involved the hiatal hernia repair. It began around 1:00 p.m., and the team called her husband around 5:00 p.m. to let him know that she was doing well and was in recovery.

“I was able to get up and walk after my surgery. I was sore, but I could tolerate liquids and was walking up and down the hallway since it helped with healing.”

Kristina’s procedure was a great success with no complications. She went home less than 24 hours later.

Kristina’s Dramatic Weight Loss and Improved Health

“Including what I lost in pre-op, I’ve lost 139 pounds and counting. I am now down to 181 pounds.”

Kristina has also seen an improvement in her blood pressure and energy levels.

“I had borderline high blood pressure, and now my blood pressure has improved. I have a lot more energy. I’m not as tired. I also sleep a lot better than I did before surgery.”

Kristina’s Diet and Exercise Regimen Today

“I can eat whatever I want now. I do, personally, stay away from sugar, for the most part, because that is a trigger food for me, but I do indulge on special occasions. Now when I have some, I think it is entirely too sweet. My body just isn’t used to it.

“Today, my focus is heavy on protein because bariatric patients have such high protein goals following surgery. I’m required to get in 100 grams of protein a day. Once I get my protein in, I’m typically full, but I dabble in the other food groups as well.”

Since Kristina has a lot more energy, she no longer finds it tedious to workout.

“I work out on the Peleton or go for a walk three days a week. On the weekends, my husband, daughter and I are very active, going for walks and playing outside. I love having so much energy.”

What Kristina Loves About Her Weight Loss

“The most unexpected positive outcome has been how quickly I am dropping inches and moving through clothing sizes. My body composition changing so much is exciting. I like how my clothes fit now.”

About WakeMed Bariatric Surgery and Medical Weight Loss

Weight Loss is a journey that starts with a single step and ends with better health. If you want to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, the team of experts at WakeMed is here for you.

From our board-certified physicians with expertise in medically-directed weight loss, to bariatric surgery and non-surgical weight loss procedures, to our multidisciplinary team of diet and exercise specialists, we enjoy working closely with our patients to determine the best path to good health. Because, in the end, it’s not just what you lose; it’s the health, confidence – and all the other good things – that you gain.

Offering a full continuum of services, WakeMed is committed to supporting patients on their journey to losing weight – or simply maintaining a weight that’s healthy for you.

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WakeMed Bariatrics Surgery and Medical Weight Loss Team