Friday Q&A Panel: Post-Op Life, Lifestyle Changes, & Pitfalls to Avoid

Q&A Panel Session 3B: Friday 3:00pm – 3:50pm, International Ballroom IV

Post-Op Life, Lifestyle Changes, & Pitfalls to Avoid

Do you have a question about post-op life, lifestyle changes, or pitfalls that you should avoid on your journey? Then you're going to want to join Yelena (Revision, Lap-Band to VSG), Patti (RNY Gastric Bypass), Dennis (Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy), and Heidi (Duodenal Switch)!

Each panelist has had a different surgery type and likely very different experiences, so raise your hand and let our staff bring the microphone to you! The moderator and conference staff will help keep the Q&A moving so that we can try and get in as many questions as possible during the allotted time.

Meet the Panel

Q&A Panelist: Yelena Kibasova

Yelena Kibasova got a fresh chance at a healthy life after undergoing Lap-Band in 2008 (and a revision to the VSG in 2013 due to complications) at a top weight of 305 pounds. Through continuous participation in weight loss surgery forums, support groups, and conferences over the last eight years, she has realized that in order to maintain her 150 pound weight loss, she has to take a holistic approach to her health.

This means maintaining a balanced combination of healthy eating, healthy thoughts and healthy movement. Along her journey, the most difficult piece has been trying to find the motivation to consistently exercise. Her ultimate goal was to become passionate about fitness.

Two years ago, Yelena found her passion after attending her first Zumba class. Since then, not a week has gone by without at least once dance party! In 2014, she became a licensed Zumba instructor and has enjoyed motivating others through dance fitness. She now also plays hockey in a league which she had to give up doing in her youth because of her weight. Her motto: who says exercise has to be boring? Yelena lives in Plymouth, MN with her blue-eyed-son Andrey. She teaches Zumba, Zumba Gold and Aqua Zumba.

Panelist: Yelena Kibasova
Surgery type: Lap-Band (2008), VSG (2013)
Total weight loss: 150 pounds
Website: More Than My Weight - Blog

Q&A Panelist: Patti Trevino

After spending 20 years of her life being super morbidly obese, Patti Trevino’s health was steadily declining. In October of 2013, she weighed 360 pounds and had just been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. She had sleep apnea and chondromalacia in both knees which made it very painful to move.

Reflecting on the choices she was making for her body, Patti had a moment in time that October that would change her life and her health. She finally decided that enough was enough. She was done living the unhealthy lifestyle she had been living. She literally fell to her knees and sought a higher power for guidance and strength. She knew she had a lot of hard work ahead of her but she was determined. This time she was ready for the challenges.

Soon after that fateful day, Patti went on Optifast for four months and lost 70 pounds. Then on April 15, 2014, weighing 290 pounds, she underwent the RNY Gastric Bypass. She says it was the best decision she has ever made. After losing half of her body weight (180 pounds!) and meeting her goal weight in July of 2015, Patti went on to have extensive plastic surgery for skin removal with Dr. Timothy Katzen. She has had three plastic surgeries including Brachioplasty, Posterior Body Lift, Tummy Tuck with Muscle Repair, Breast Lift and Augmentation. She is thrilled with the results!

Most of Patti’s journey through weight loss surgery and plastic surgery has been documented on YouTube under the name Watch PattiMelt. Now 49 and weighing 155 pounds, Patti says her energy is back to 100% and she is exercising four to five days a week.

Panelist: Patti Trevino
Surgery type: Roux-en-Y (2014)
Total weight loss: 205 pounds
Website: Youtube Channel

Q&A Panelist: Dennis Veneigh

Dennis Veneigh was just eight years old when his struggle with obesity began. He was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome which caused him to have repetitive, involuntary vocalizations and movements. Soon after his diagnosis, he was prescribed a variety of different medications to try and almost immediately, the medications caused him to gain weight. Not only was he fighting to control his Tourette’s Syndrome, but he was also fighting obesity.

As an adult, Dennis continued to struggle with his weight, and he knew that he needed medical help to lose weight. Dennis decided that he was worth taking care of and wanted to lose the weight not just for himself, but for the quality of life he wanted for his family.

In 2014, after much research, Dennis underwent the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG). On his one-year surgiversary, he reached his goal weight of 196 pounds. It was the first time he had ever set and reached a goal! Dennis has since celebrated many NSV’s (Non-Scale Victories). He has danced and walked the runway at the ObesityHelp Conference Fashion Show, as well as rode rides at Disneyland with his OH friends. He can now fit comfortably in an airline seat and wears 34-36 size pants!

Panelist: Dennis Veneigh Jr.
Surgery type: Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (2014)
Total weight loss: 194 pounds
Website: Youtube Channel

Q&A Panelist: Heidi Brown

Heidi Brown struggled with her weight for years and tried numerous times with much difficulty to lose weight on her own. A major turning point for Heidi was the night that her husband voiced his concerns about weight impacting her health and lifespan. Heidi knew that was her wake-up call; she knew she had to do something different.

"I knew I had to do something. If someone loved me that much, I needed to love myself enough to change. I wanted to lose the weight for me, my husband and our future children."

The very next day Heidi made an appointment with her Primary Care Physician who recommended Bariatric Surgeon, Dr. Ara Keshishian. That very afternoon, Heidi called Dr. Keshishian’ office, scheduled a consultation and began what was about to be one of the greatest journeys of her life. Heidi received her insurance approval within a month and had Duodenal Switch surgery on December 26, 2012.

With determination and her family's love and support, Heidi has lost 105 pounds. Duodenal Switch also made it possible for Heidi to expand her family, since surgery she has also had two amazing little boys. Bariatric surgery has been a life changer for Heidi, not only did she lose weight but she also now lives a full and healthy life with her family. Heidi feels gratitude every day for her DS, amazing husband, boys, and Dr. Keshishian.

Panelist: Heidi Brown
Surgery type: Duodenal Switch (2012)
Total weight loss: 105 pounds