Local Boy Scout leader and father defeats diabetes after successful weight loss surgery
Weighing in at over 400 pounds, Tony Burns had his defining moment when his primary care doctor told him that he had hit the limit of what prescription drugs could do for his chronic health conditions.
Tony not only had type 2 diabetes, he also had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. He had become completely sedentary and had given up many of the outdoor activities he had once enjoyed with this three active children ages 18, 15 and three.
That defining moment in his doctor's office was the jumpstart Tony needed to start transforming his mind, body and life.
“I started researching weight loss surgery options and found Legacy Weight and Diabetes Institute online. When I went into the clinic for the first time, I didn’t need convincing this was the right path for me – I just needed the education and tools to be successful and that’s exactly what I got,” recalled Tony.
After completing his pre-operation education, Tony had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy on July 31, 2015.
The first major change he made was to his diet.
“The nutrition piece turned into a religion for me,” said Tony. “I was diabetic so I started learning about the glycemic index and what I should be eating. It wasn't just about the calories, I was also vigilant about getting enough fiber and proteins and limiting sugars.”
Tony dropped 50 pounds fairly quickly and started going to the gym 10-15 hours per week.
“I am doing crazy activities now,” Tony exclaimed. “I am planning a 100 mile round-trip bike trip from Beaverton to Willamina with my 15-year-old son. And as a leader of his Boy Scout troop, I am able to go on long hikes and participate in all of the other activities with them now.”
Today, Tony is down 165 pounds and his diabetes is controlled without medication.
“I am saving $200 per month now that I am off my diabetes medication,” said Tony. “I have been able to redirect the money I was spending at the pharmacy to new bicycles and kayaks for me and my son.”
Success stories like Tony's have brought 45 of the world's leading diabetes groups together to formally recommend people with diabetes be offered bariatric surgery as a standard treatment option. This recommendation is considered one of the biggest shifts in diabetes treatment guidelines since the introduction of insulin.
“We are seeing a diabetes epidemic across the United States and Oregon is no exception,” said Valerie Halpin, MD, bariatric surgeon at Legacy Weight and Diabetes Institute. “Lifestyle changes regarding food and exercise have been clearly shown to improve diabetes control, and can also lower the risk of developing diabetes in the first place. Bariatric surgery is a proven kick starter for those looking to make these critical lifestyle changes.”
The new recommendation, made by American Diabetes Association, the Chinese Diabetes Society and Diabetes India among others, is substantiated by a wide amount of research including 11 randomized trials, which proved surgery led to reductions in blood glucose levels below the type 2 diabetes diagnosis threshold or to a substantial improvement in blood glucose levels.
“I am a completely different person than I was 11 months ago,” continued Tony. “I am more confident at work, more mobile and people notice me now because of who I am not because I am abnormally large.”
Tony's family, friends and colleagues have taken notice of how far Tony has come and he has served as an inspiration to those around him.
My wife and a one of my coworkers have undergone surgery and are having great success too,” said Tony. “To those thinking about getting surgery, let me tell you it’s not that hard you just need to sustain the commitment and listen to your care team and it will work.”
Is bariatric surgery right for you? A surgeon will help decide if surgery is right for you.
Some of Legacy Weight and Diabetes Institute’s requirements include:
- A body mass index (BMI) more than 40. A BMI more than 35 is acceptable if you also have a condition such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes. Check your BMI here.
- Proof that you have already tried to lose weight
- A motivation to make lifestyle changes. You will need to be more active and eat healthy.
- Smoke-free for at least three months
- Able to tolerate general anesthesia
*Are you interested in finding out more information? Review our diabetes services and support page. We help empower you to manage your diabetes. Contact us for more information.
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June 30, 2016