Radical Stomach Surgery Helps Morbidly Obese

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A new surgery is helping in the fight against obesity.

The radical procedure is not for everyone since it involves removing most of the patient's stomach.

But for some, a "sleeve gastrectomy" is the only option left.

After years of unsuccessful dieting, Holly Matherene knew it was time to make some drastic changes in her life if she was going to continue living it.

"I want to be around. I want to meet my grandchildren one day," she said last December. "I want to see my kids get married. All those milestones I want to be around for."

Weighing in at 370 pounds, Matherene opted for the sleeve gastrectomy -- an extreme option that permanently removes more than 80 percent of the stomach.

"There is no question this is the single best option for patients who the weight has just gotten out of control," said Dr. David Treen of the Surgical Clinic of Louisiana.

It's very common with this type of surgery for patients to lose as much as 100 pounds in only six months.

When the stomach is removed, so is the hormone called ghrelin that encourages hunger.

"The ghrelin is a powerful appetite stimulant and when you remove this part of the stomach, most of our patients tell us after surgery they're not hungry -- ever," Treen explained.

Matherene said even when people around her have full plates, she is no longer tempted.

After one year, she's lost 135 pounds.

"My youngest came up to me the other day and he had told me before surgery, 'I can't wait until I can hug you and my fingers touch,'" Matherene recalled.

"And the other day, he came up to me and hugged me and [said], 'Mom, my fingers are touching,'" she said.  "Isn't that great?"

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Efrem Graham

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.