Health Cover Stories

New Life: Washington University Physicians

Patient Elaine Lannom before her procedure.

Many adults are all too familiar wit the ups and downs of trying to lose weight. Sometimes eating right and exercising just aren’t enough, and professional medical intervention may be needed to tip the scales in the right direction. That’s where Washington University Physicians’ nonsurgical weight loss program can make a difference, says gastroenterologist Dr. Vlad Kushnir, who sees patients at the Center for Advanced Medicine and Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital.

Elaine Lannom of Millersville, Missouri, says concern for her health and comfort sparked her decision to undergo endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) with Kushnir last summer, with a goal of losing 65 pounds. ESG can be performed in a fairly simple outpatient visit, he says. Sutures are placed via endoscopy to reduce the size of the stomach by 65 to 75 percent so the patient feels fuller and less tempted to eat. “ESG is intended for people like Elaine who need to lose between 50 and 150 pounds,” Kushnir says. “We have a team of weight management physicians who carefully tailor a plan to each person’s needs.” It’s important to embrace lifestyle changes as well, Kushnir notes. “Obesity is something an entire family needs to deal with together,” he says. “Members of the household frequently eat the same foods, so if habits are unhealthy and there is a lot of snacking or overeating at home, that can hold back the person who is trying to lose weight.”

Kushnir says ESG is well tolerated, causes few side effects and only requires three to five days of recovery. There may be mild nausea or discomfort for a couple of days after the procedure, but these are easily controlled with medication. The only food restriction is a liquid diet for two weeks, and then the patient returns to a regular, low-calorie diet.

T&S first spoke with Lannom in the fall of 2017 when she was halfway to her intended weight. She says she hit her goal in February of this year and has kept the pounds off. “I decided to do something about the extra weight when my doctor said my A1C test [to measure blood sugar control] was high,” she says. “Diabetes runs in my family, and I didn’t want to take pills or check my blood sugar all the time. I knew I needed to make a change.” Lannom says she also was tired of feeling out of breath and wondering if she could function normally in everyday situations. “When you’re as overweight as I was, you tend to lose confidence,” she says. “But I don’t have those problems anymore.” She also is excited about wearing whatever suits her. “My choices were pretty limited before, but now I can enjoy swimming and putting on shorts in the summer,” she says.

Lannom says she is keeping the pounds off by fully appreciating her newfound vitality. “My blood pressure, A1C and other values are back to normal, my diet is much healthier, and I’ve returned to doing things like working in my yard,” she says. “Losing weight has changed my life.”

Washington University Physicians creates personalized strategies for patients who need to lose weight. Pictured on the cover: patient Elaine Lannom and Dr. Vlad Kushnir. For more information, call 314.362.2652 or visit barnesjewishwestcounty.org/nonsurgical-weight-loss.

Cover courtesy of Washington University Physicians
Cover photo by Bill Barrett

Pictured above: Lannom after undergoing ESG.

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