Less than a year ago, John and Brenda Mallis’s health was in great danger — they were each more than 100 pounds overweight. John was taking 22 pills a day to manage his diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, and other health conditions. Brenda had trouble with her blood pressure and was trying to manage her diet to prevent diabetes. The Wheeling couple had difficulty walking and avoided some of their favorite activities. They knew they had to do something before it was too late.

After receiving gastric bypass surgery at WVU Medicine, the Mallis’s lives are completely changed. They’ve lost more than 200 pounds. John takes only two pills a day now, they both experience fewer aches and pains, and they are each enjoying active lives again.

“I am able to walk pain free again and go up and down steps,” John said. “This has led me to resume many activities that I missed, such as working in the yard, working on cars, and attending functions that I would not go to in the past.”

“John and I are achieving goals with our weight loss that we did not think were possible,” Brenda said. “As a couple, we are supportive and encouraging of one another to stay motivated and continue this life-changing journey together.”

Both John and Brenda are patients of WVU Medicine’s Lawrence Tabone, MD, a Duke University trained bariatric surgeon who currently performs more than 250 weight-loss surgeries a year at WVU Medicine.

“Dr. Tabone is very approachable, knowledgeable, and a good listener,” Brenda said. “We never felt embarrassed by our initial weight when we started the surgery process. That’s very important when you are heavy and self-conscious. It’s a great feeling to be treated with kindness and respect.”

A collaborative, team approach is at the core of WVU Medicine’s bariatric surgery program. “When people undergo weight-loss surgery, it takes on average six months or more of preoperative preparation and education. During that time, they meet with me, as well as the dietitians, behavioral psychologists, exercise physiologists, and other specialists,” Tabone said. “We all work together to ensure the best care and outcome for the patient.”

Patients who participate in the WVU Medicine’s bariatric surgery program are typically 100 pounds or more overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher. Most patients lose 100 pounds or more during the first year following the procedure.

“Historically, the medical community has approached morbid obesity with diet and exercise alone,” Dr. Tabone said. “These are key components to having effective, long-term weight loss. But for most patients, it's not enough to achieve the weight loss needed to substantially improve one’s health and quality of life. When weight-loss surgery is paired with changes in diet and exercise, the results are significant and compelling.”

Tabone stresses that the procedure is about improving a patient’s health. “Many large studies show that Type 2 diabetes is resolved in 80 to 90 percent of people who undergo weight-loss surgery," he said. “It's also very effective at treating other conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, and sleep apnea.”


Is bariatric surgery right for you?

If you have attempted multiple diet and exercise programs in the past and still haven’t kept the weight off, bariatric surgery may be an effective option for you. To learn more, attend a free information session at the WVU Erickson Alumni Center. Sessions are held from 6-8 pm:

  • 2015: Dec. 2
  • 2016: Jan. 14, Feb. 4, March 10, April 13, May 5, June 9

To register for a free information session, call 304-293-1728.