Tafi Bandelin, gastric banding patient

December 01, 2012
Tafi Bandelin before and after

Two years after her 70-pound weight loss, Tafi Bandelin attributes her new life to the gastric banding procedure she underwent at UC Irvine.

At 60 years old, Bandelin was 5’3” and 250 pounds. She wanted to drop the weight, but didn’t know where to turn.

"I had chronic asthma, hypertension, diabetes and my knees weren’t working anymore. I was taking 12 prescriptions a day and I was still a mess," says Bandelin. "I knew I was going to die if I didn’t get help."

That’s when she learned about the adjustable gastric banding procedure. It was less invasive than other surgical weight loss interventions, and it was a reversible procedure — she could always have the band removed. After researching through the Internet, she discovered that UC Irvine had an experienced team of bariatric surgeons trained to perform the procedure and she attended one of their new patient orientation meetings. There, Bandelin had the opportunity to ask questions, learn more about the different types of bariatric surgery procedures, interact with the UC Irvine’s surgeons and meet other patients.

"I asked millions of questions about how the procedure works, what the side effects are and whether my hunger would cease. The doctors were so patient and I was so impressed with their honesty," says Bandelin. “The surgeons explained that getting the procedure was not a silver bullet to weight loss. It’s just a tool. It’s up to the patient to commit to lasting weight loss." She made an appointment to see bariatric surgeon Kevin Reavis, MD, that same week.

Fourteen days prior to surgery, her medical team evaluated her to make sure she was ready for the procedure.

"I was constantly monitored by entire medical team – physicians, nurses and dietitians,"” says Bandelin. "At any time, the nurses and nutritionists were always a phone call away."

Reavis and his medical team made it clear that after she had the procedure, keeping the weight off was 80 percent the patient and 20 percent the band. That’s where UC Irvine’s ongoing group support program comes in. Patients share their experiences, give each other tips and encourage each other to stay on course. Tafi has lost more than 70 pounds and she has maintained that loss ever since her surgery. She even became a class manager at jazzercise center where she lives.

Working out six to seven days a week keeps Bandelin fit and toned. She no longer struggles with hypertension, diabetes or knee pain. And in the two years since the surgery, her asthma is a thing of the past.

"It’s about being healthy and feeling good," she says. "You make a conscientious choice every day to eat right, work out and enjoy life, and you have to commit to it 100 percent. This procedure is the first thing that has worked for me in 60 years. Doctor Reavis saved my life."

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