How bariatric surgery saved one Philadelphia teacher's life

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Many people who are obese are reluctant to consider bariatric surgery. However, it's proven to be the best way to take off, and keep off, large amounts of weight. A Philadelphia teacher said it helped him get off the weight-loss roller coaster.

Cedric Lenox, 38, of Southwest Philadelphia is always on the move these days, after nearly 20 years of struggling with his weight.

"My weight would go up and down, up and down," he said.

As the scales went up, Lenox's self-confidence went down.

"When I take pictures on my social media especially when I was big I only took from my face, from my neck area," he said. "I started having headaches and I thought it was stress."

It was actually sleep apnea, which left the charter school teacher exhausted every day. When the 5-foot-11 Lenox hit 370 pounds, he knew he needed weight loss surgery. After researching the options, he set up an appointment at Temple Health.

Surgeon Dr. Rohit Soans has seen many like Lenox since pandemic shutdowns eased last year.

"I think patients are recognizing that they need to get their health straightened out," he said.

But most don't realize how much obesity is hurting their overall health, Lenox not only had sleep apnea, but high blood pressure. Type 2 diabetes, cholesterol problems, stroke, and osteoarthritis also have links.

"The data is very clear that when your body mass index gets over 40, surgical intervention is really the best option," said Dr. Soans.

The two main types are sleeve gastrectomy, where the stomach size is reduced, and gastric bypass, in which the small intestine is re-routed.

Lenox had a sleeve gastrectomy last November. Exercise, healthy eating, and losing well over 100 pounds have re-energized him.

"I want to keep making a difference, you know, in this world, so I had to do, I had to work on me. I can't help other people when I'm struggling with myself," he said.

Lenox's sleep apnea has diminished and his blood pressure is better, though they're not quite at their targets yet.
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