PAMF Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

‘Weight Loss Surgery Gave Us Our Family Back’

Posted on Jun 12, 2012

Having been overweight for many years, Rashel Brandon knew she needed to take action. “I’m a critical care nurse, and I knew I couldn’t tell my obese patients to live a healthy lifestyle if I wasn’t following the advice myself,” Rashel says.

“I knew that I wouldn’t be around to see my kids graduate from high school – that’s how heavy I was and how sick I was. I wanted to live.”

Prithvi Legha, M.D., a board-certified bariatric surgeon at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, performed Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery on Rashel in December 2010. She has since lost more than 100 pounds and is nearly at her goal weight.

Although the process was seamless, her weight loss journey is not without extreme commitment.

“I see an endocrinologist and nutritionist on an ongoing basis, and I will need blood work and checkups for the rest of my life,” Rashel emphasizes. “But you know you’re making a lifelong commitment and change when you go into it. The surgery is merely an aid to help you lose weight. You have to put in the work by exercising and eating properly.”

Rashel was so pleased with her success that her husband, Robert, also decided to have weight loss surgery at PAMF.

Robert had been heavy his entire life (even during childhood). “I just thought being heavy was the way it was for me,” he says. Over the years, he tried nearly every popular diet, including Weight Watchers, Atkins and the South Beach Diet. He would lose weight but ultimately end up gaining it back.

He was intrigued by Rashel’s decision to have surgery, but because he has only ever known women who have had the procedure, he didn’t know it was appropriate for him. Fortunately, Robert attended one of Rashel’s orientation sessions with her and heard another patient speak about his experience. Robert says because the speaker had his same body type – nearly identical height and weight – he thought, “Hey, maybe I can do this, too.”

Since Robert’s surgery in February 2011, he has lost approximately 150 pounds and says the experience “was the best medical decision I’ve ever made.”

Rashel and Robert’s three children have benefited from their parents’ weight loss, too. “They see us eating better and not as much, and being more active with them,” she says. “We go for walks now and do activities as a family – things we couldn’t do before the surgery. Losing weight has made us better parents; it has given us our family back.”