Losing Weight to Gain a New Life

Edgar Peña and his wife, Eva Guerra-Peña, chose to have weight-loss surgery with Dr. Malgorzata Stanczyk. “It will change your life for the better. It’s like a reset button. I’m able to move and do my day-to-day activities without being in pain,” says Eva.

At Providence Little Company of Mary’s Bariatric Wellness Centers, you’ll find supportive teams dedicated to patients’ long-term weight-loss success, whether you choose the San Pedro or Torrance location.

“What distinguishes us is our comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach,” says Karen Allen, RN, bariatric program coordinator at Providence Little Company of Mary. “We have an incredible team of nurses, dietitians and psychologists, led by our highly skilled surgeons. The team helps ensure your long-term success.”

Allen explains that people who are qualified for weight-loss surgery get all kinds of support from the bariatric team both before and after the procedure. Beforehand, patients have access to support groups twice a month. The groups, which typically include 15 to 20 participants, are led by a licensed facilitator and feature speakers such as psychologists and dietitians.

“The program addresses the whole person,” Allen explains. “We look at the psychology of a patient’s eating patterns.” Participants are also encouraged to keep a food journal to increase their awareness of eating habits, such as when and how their eating is triggered by stress or other factors. The team also works with patients to expedite the insurance approval process as much as possible.

The most commonly performed surgery is the gastric sleeve procedure, aka sleeve gastrectomy, which removes about 80% of the stomach permanently. “Patients are seen postoperatively at one week, one month, three months, six months and one year,” Allen explains, “then annually thereafter. We follow and track the long-term results of our patients. If after a year or two, or five years after surgery, they are struggling, we want to provide the support they need.” Allen’s program offers a quarterly series called Back on Track.

“The most surprising part for patients post-surgery is the change in the quality of life,” says Allen. “Not being in pain anymore, not having to take medications anymore, even being able to run a marathon. That’s the real life-changing benefits.”

Bariatric Care at Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance

Bariatric surgeons Drs. Houman Solomon and Aileen TakahashiHouman Solomon, MD, medical director of the bariatric program at Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance, says, “We recognize obesity to be a chronic condition. So we believe the proper treatment should be lifelong and delivered by a multispecialty team. We take great pride in offering exactly that to our patients.”

Dr. Solomon adds, “It’s a very exciting time for those of us who treat obesity, because we now have several new, effective nonsurgical treatments for obesity,” referring to a new class of anti-obesity medications. “Obesity is a very complex disease,” he notes. “Some people do better with weight-loss surgery, whereas others might benefit more from nonsurgical treatment.”

One very real benefit of weight loss from either method that patients won’t be able to perceive right away, Dr. Solomon notes, is that the surgery can literally add years to their lives. “In general, weight-loss surgery adds about a decade,” he says. “The majority of that benefit probably comes from curing or preventing diabetes, hypertension and elevated cholesterol levels. But recently data has suggested that cardiac events and strokes are also significantly lowered as a stand-alone benefit. Plus, the risk of 13 different cancers is significantly lowered.”

But most important is the more immediate quality-of-life changes that come in the first year, says Dr. Solomon. “I really love seeing our patients change their lives for the better. They feel so energized and accomplished after losing significant amounts of weight. It’s wonderful to see that.”

Bariatric Care at Providence Little Company of Mary San Pedro

Dr. Malgorzata StanczykMalgorzata Stanczyk, MD, medical director of the bariatric program at Providence Little Company of Mary San Pedro, says that she loves working with weight-loss patients because it involves so much more than just helping them take the pounds off. “Bariatric care is a process. I get to see the patients bloom in front of me—it’s fantastic. I compare it to being an obstetrician and being able to see the happiness of a new life begin.”

One of Dr. Stanczyk’s most fulfilling outcomes is helping women for whom obesity has interfered with their fertility and prevented them from conceiving a baby they desperately want. “I have patients who became pregnant after their weight loss who couldn’t before. It brings so many levels of joy,” she says. Some patients are referred to the bariatric program by gynecologists after longtime struggles with infertility.

Dr. Stanczyk says she gets positive feedback from patients about the San Pedro location’s small, “boutique” feel. “It’s a quiet, private setting,” she explains. Everything from the beds to the bathrooms are tailored to bariatric patients’ needs.

Like Dr. Solomon, Dr. Stanczyk says that patients are sometimes surprised by how much the bariatric surgery improves their well-being. “Many patients come with just the idea of weight loss and they don’t realize how much their health will improve. They can get rid of diabetes, fatty liver, high cholesterol, hypertension, sleep apnea and metabolic syndrome. Many don’t realize how big a toll obesity takes.”

Dr. Stanczyk and her team emphasize the importance of patient education, so that the patient is fully invested in the journey. “The patient is the person who can help themselves the most,” she says. “By the time they come for the surgery, they are very well prepared. The weight loss takes a year to a year and a half. It’s a long-term process—it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We give patients the tools and support they need to increase their chances of success.”

“I love this work,” adds Dr. Stanczyk. “It’s very complex, but I love it.”

Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance is accredited as a Comprehensive Center of Excellence for weight-loss surgery by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). The MBSAQIP designation means the center has undergone an independent, rigorous, voluntary peer evaluation in accordance with nationally recognized bariatric surgical standards.

For more information on Providence Little Company of Mary hospitals, call 844-925-0942.