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Bariatric Center Helping Area Residents Win the Weight War Since 2007

Posted by website director | August 20, 2012 / 03:45pm | Local News, Business, Health
TUPELO, Miss.--In 2007, North Mississippi Medical Center opened its Bariatric Center. Five years later, hundreds of area residents have lost a total of 32,000 pounds and gained a second chance at life.

To celebrate their patients' success, the NMMC Bariatric Center staff is hosting a fifth anniversary celebration from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, in the atrium near the Bariatric Clinic, 408 Council Circle, Suite C. Participants will enjoy refreshments, photos, mini-makeovers and chair massages. One lucky patient will win a Take Me Away package from NMMC Wellness Center's Therapeutic Day Spa.

For more information about the celebration, call (662) 377-SLIM (7546) or 1-866-908-9465.

Shedding the Pounds

Lance GrissomOne such patient is 41-year-old Lance Grissom of Baldwyn, who only a few years ago had trouble simply keeping up with his kids. Now, he's running circles around them.

Grissom was always a big guy. After high school, he played football two years at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba and two years at Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn. When his college days were over, he continued to eat like a football player but did not exercise. The weight soon caught up with him, despite taking diet pills and trying multiple fad diets. He might lose 40 to 50 pounds, but each time he felt deprived and would return to his old habits-and weight.

By his late 30s, Grissom weighed 432 pounds and was being treated for high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythm. He suffered from back problems and other aches and pains, and getting around was a real chore. He considered weight loss surgery for several years, but when his wife became pregnant with their daughter, he knew the time had come. "I was afraid I wouldn't see our little girl grow up," he says.

He attended a free seminar by Terry Pinson, M.D., a general and bariatric surgeon who serves as medical director for NMMC's Bariatric Center. Dr. Pinson performs three types of bariatric (weight loss) procedures-laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery and laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy.

Understanding the Differences

Gastric bypass creates a very small upper stomach pouch-less than one ounce-by transecting the stomach. Because it doesn't take much food or liquid to fill the new, small pouch, the person enjoys eating a lot less. In addition, food is not absorbed as well as it once was, contributing to rapid weight loss.

Laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy generates weight loss by restricting the amount of food that may be consumed without bypassing the stomach or a portion of the small intestine. A portion of the stomach is removed and a new stomach pouch is formed. This procedure helps to reduce the sensation of hunger by possibly eliminating some of the gastrointestinal hormones responsible for the hunger pains. While, the stomach is reduced in volume, it functions normally so most food items can be consumed but in smaller portions.

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery consists of placing a silicone band around the upper part of the stomach and filling it with saline. This creates a new, smaller stomach pouch that can hold only a small amount of food. Gastric band surgery is the least invasive of the three procedures, as it does not require stomach cutting and stapling or gastrointestinal re-routing to bypass normal digestion.

Off to a Running Start

After talking with Dr. Pinson, Grissom opted for laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy in April 2009 and began losing weight immediately. To keep the weight loss going and to get in better shape, he knew he needed to start exercising.  "I used to hate to run when I played football," Grissom recalls. "I tried lifting weights and then riding a mountain bike, but I didn't care too much for those."

So Grissom started walking, which soon turned to jogging. In less than two years, he lost 175 pounds and gained a new passion-running. He ran his first race, the NightCrawler 5K in Tupelo last fall. Then he tackled his first half-marathon, the 13.1-mile Run for Hope, in Oxford in February. Three months later, he ran the Coca-Cola Classic 10K in Corinth.  And now he's training to run the St. Jude Marathon (26.2 miles) this winter.

With the weight loss came fewer health concerns, higher self-esteem and a renewed zest for life. Now he can walk to his favorite deer hunting spot, climb into his tree stand and run back to his truck carrying all his gear. He's also back to football-not playing, but coaching his 11-year-old son's team. "I like being able to do what I like to do with no restrictions," he says.

New Lease on Life

Janice CruthirdsJanice Cruthirds says weight loss surgery is the best thing she ever did for herself.  The 64-year-old from Columbus, who works as a consultant for area school districts, began struggling with her weight in her 50s. "The weight kept coming, and I couldn't lose it," she says, no matter what she tried.

Along with the weight came high cholesterol and a blood sugar level that was climbing too high. "My cholesterol stayed around 375, even on medicine," she says. A sleep disorder forced her to use a CPAP device to breathe normally through the night. Because her mother died of a heart attack at age 68, Cruthirds knew she needed to take heed.

When she saw the great results a friend had from weight loss surgery, Cruthirds was inspired to check into it herself. After talking with Dr. Pinson, she opted for laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy in December 2010. Before long, she was completely off her cholesterol medication and CPAP device, and her blood sugar returned to normal.

Cruthirds lost 75 pounds, dropping from a size 18 to a size 6. "I can fasten my shoes, climb the stairs, things you take for granted unless you are overweight," she says.

Traveling is now much easier, as are swim aerobics, tending to her flowers and the three grandchildren she is raising, ages 16, 12 and 10.  "I have a new lease on life," she says. "I tell Dr. Pinson and his staff 'thanks for giving me my life back.'"

Support Makes the Difference

Jana CaffeeJana Caffee of Pontocola had no intention of having weight-loss surgery when she accompanied her sister to a free educational seminar four years ago. But after she saw her sister's tremendous success, she was sold.

Caffee, who is a reading interventionalist at Shannon Primary School, says she had been heavy for years. She topped out at 268 pounds and, although she tried several different diet programs, couldn't seem to stay below 250. Along with the weight came high blood pressure that required medication.

The extra weight also aggravated her arthritis, making it hard to climb stairs and keep up with her students. After weighing her options, she underwent laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery in December 2009 and has since lost 98 pounds. Caffee was impressed with the support NMMC's Bariatric Center offers and believes that is why so many patients are so successful.

"The program is very thorough, and I followed their instructions step-by-step," she said. The adjustable gastric band helps control the amount of food her stomach can hold. She eats from a smaller plate and never feels deprived.

"I eat what my family eats; I just eat less of it," she said. "It hasn't been a struggle, that's what I have enjoyed most about it. I feel like a new person."

Why Weight?

Dr. Terry Pinson and his staff present a free Bariatric Educational Seminar at noon the first Thursday of each month at the NMMC Bariatric Clinic and at 6 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at NMMC's Wellness Center in Tupelo.

Topics include weight loss surgery's health benefits and risks; different types of weight loss surgery; who is a good candidate; questions to ask a physician; what to expect before, during and after surgery; advanced techniques and technologies; and insurance coverage. To learn more, visit To register for a Bariatric Educational Seminar, call 
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