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Bryan Mitchell Shares Weight Loss Journey

When Bryan Mitchell, of Jefferson, Ga., was 12 years old, he was a mountain of strength.# He provided the type muscle for his youth football team that puts a smile on any coach”s face.# Tried as they might, boys could not stop him.# Then, Mitchell weighed in at about 225 pounds.# His stature allowed him to enjoy several opportunities.

But, as Mitchell became a man, his weight started to become more of an issue.# He struggled with his every day routines.

“Once I got so big, it was hard to live,”# said Mitchell, who is now 36 years old.# “I couldn”t fit in seats and my legs were wrought with pain.# It was a struggle to do basic things.”## For about two years, Mitchell contemplated having surgery.# He researched a lot of different facilities, but something felt right when he met Robert Richard, MD, and his staff at The Center for Surgical Weight Management at Gwinnett Medical Center “Duluth (GMC-Duluth).

“Prior to undergoing surgery, I went to a seminar at GMC-Duluth and met former patients and staff,”# he said.# “I felt at home there and eventually, Dr. Richard became my friend.# Although the thought of surgery was nerve-racking, I knew it was a life or death choice.# I wanted to be with my grandchildren and walk my daughters down the aisle at their weddings.”#

The Center for Surgical Weight Management (CSWM) at GMC-Duluth offers a comprehensive program that focuses on a patient”s needs pre-, during and post-surgery. With an array of surgical options, the Center is committed to providing patients with the necessary tools for successful weight loss and healthy living.

In early March, Mitchell weighed in at about 550 pounds.# And, following a six week diet of full liquid meal replacements he underwent surgery on April 14, 2011. More specifically, Mitchell had gastric bypass surgery or roux-en-Y-gastric bypass, which is one type of bariatric surgery.# For this type of surgery, bypasses of the small intestine are created to cause the body to absorb fewer food nutrients.

“I was big my whole life, but now I”m down to a pants size that”s smaller than I wore when I was 12,”# said Mitchell.# “But prior to the surgery, I was plagued by many issues; some were apparent, while others were not.# For example, my sleep apnea was so severe that I was told that I didn”t need to sleep another day without a continuous positive airway pressure machine.# I also didn”t realize that I had poor circulation in my legs.”## In addition, diabetes and heart disease also ran in Mitchell”s family.

Today, Mitchell has lost 243 pounds and his body mass index is 41, compared to 76.7, pre-surgery.## Additionally, he”s lost 3.5 inches off his neck, 19 inches from his chest and 24.5 inches off his waist.# His pants size has fallen from a 64 inch waist to a 42, today.

Weight loss surgery has also made an impact in Mitchell”s life beyond his health.# It”s impacted him professionally, too.

“Now, I work for my father at K&V Trucking as a driver,”# said Mitchell.# “I couldn”t have done this pre-surgery.# But, since my surgery, I”ve started full-time driving in the last six months and it”s meant everything to work for my father – it”s what I”ve always wanted to do.# Now, I”m an asset to him.”#

Mitchell”s success is based on his effort and program engagement, according to Debra Proulx, RN, bariatric program manager, CSWM at GMC-Duluth.# “Bryan has followed the advice and direction from the bariatric team,”# she said.# “He makes a point to include exercise into his daily activities.”#

Furthermore, she added, “he is not taking this weight loss opportunity for granted and is cherishing this wonderful gift he has given himself — the gift of better health.”#

Mitchell”s wife had weight loss surgery in late 2011 and, in spring 2012, his daughter, Dixie Marie, is scheduled to have a similar procedure.

The CSWM offers a variety of bariatric surgical options for patients interested in weight loss.# In addition, the Center features one of the most comprehensive after-care programs in the area, including informational seminars, cooking classes, psychological assessment, clothing exchange closet and extensive follow-up care.# The journey for successful weight loss begins at an introductory seminar held at least twice a month.# For additional information, visit