Beyond Surgery

Chad Elford

In December 2019, Chad Elford had a bigtime reality check when he weighed in at 308lbs and was confronted with some potential health issues that were 100% attributed to obesity. Each and every bad decision related to food over the last 5 -7 years and the regular international travel required by his Global Executive responsibilities had a detrimental impact on his health and quality of life. As a father of two with an amazing wife of 22 years (his high school sweetheart) he was motivated to make the years ahead “better” and more active. Previous attempts had yielded short-term success but regardless of the weight-loss accomplishments which were significant they were always short-lived, and the weight gain always exceeded whatever was lost. After doing his research into a more permanent solution and learning about safety and effectiveness of bariatric surgery, he decided with the full support of his family to proceed with Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy. With a sense of urgency Chad chose to self-finance the procedure to avoid any delay and within exactly 4 weeks from his first visit with Dr. Zare, Chad had successful VSG surgery on Jan 14th.

Deciding to move forward with the surgery ultimately was a blessed and divine decision as the timing of surgery could not have been better. Within a month of his procedure, the Covid-19 pandemic overcame everybody’s normal. Shelter-in-place allowed for the required focus to work through the new relationship with food. With the unwavering support of family, daily dedication to the desired outcome and an investment in a Peloton Bike to motivate increased activity, progress was made each and every week. In the first six months Chad reached his first milestone of being under 200 lbs. His new-found energy, zest for life and healthier relationship with food has resulted in an entirely new perspective and hope for the future.

He recently got back from a week in Zion National Park and Sedona, where he was able to fully experience the greatness and beauty of these locations because he was able to fully participate in 4 to 5-hour daily hikes and enjoy the outdoor activities as a family. This would have been unimaginable in his previous physical state prior to the surgery and 100lb weight-loss.

The Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery has been a game changing tool that has helped him secure a new lease on life. Chad is extremely appreciative, feels blessed, and is grateful that the timing worked out like it did because it has resulted in nothing but positive outcomes. Chad says he is looking forward to getting to his goal weight of 185lbs, continuing to be more active and is enjoying each and every moment of his NEW NORMAL. Chad says, it wasn’t easy but there is no question it was worth every penny and effort given the amazing benefits of better health and wellness has given him.

Chad’s tribute to Richard Simmons


Priscilla Mercado

Priscilla began experiencing excess weight in middle school. Finding comfort in food to deal with stressors in her life had taken a toll and she was eager to reverse course. She tried various diets including Keto diet and Weight Watchers. She even tried Phentermine. None of these produced the results she needed. Seeing her weight slowly creep up to 250 lbs. and her back hurt all the time, she was beginning to lose hope. Then she found out about Sleeve Gastrectomy. She took her time researching the procedure and after a couple of years, she had her first consultation. From that point on, there was no looking back. In November 2016 she underwent Laparoscopic Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. She was also found to have a hiatal hernia, explaining her acid reflux, and that was repaired simultaneously. Before surgery, Priscilla has set a goal of 150 lbs. for herself. In October 2017, exactly ten months after surgery, she reached her target weight. By then, her back pain had completed resolved, her depression was no longer a concern, and she was able to do new workout routines. She was doing things like riding rollercoasters and going hiking, which she couldn’t even imagine doing before. In looking back, the only regret was not doing the procedure earlier.

Julie Yamamoto

When Julie looks back at how she felt before undergoing bariatric surgery, she remembers how unhappy she used to be. She was letting life just pass by without being able to participate the way she really wanted to. The deciding factor for her to finally talk to her doctor about getting bariatric surgery was when her friend asked her to go to Bodega Bay for a weekend and she knew there was no way she could do that much walking. She realized right then that she didn’t want to keep saying “no” to things because of her weight. A year after her procedure, she realizes that while she has lost much weight, she has gained so much in return. Self-confidence, improved health, love of hiking, being able to say yes to things, cute clothes, and no seat belt extenders on airplanes. She has even participated in the swim portion of a triathlon! She still can’t believe she is swimming competitively! On her first visit with Dr. Zaré Julie weighed over 300 pounds, her BMI was over 50, and her blood pressure qualified as hypertensive emergency. At her 1-year check-up, she had lost 150 pounds, her BMI was 29, and her blood pressure was normal. Needless to say, Julie thinks it has been a worthwhile journey.

Julie Yamamoto

Jenette Paquette

Jenette developed problems with excess weight when she was in her early 20’s. She joined the gym and began serious workouts but did not see any results. She went on an HCG diet for several months, losing 40 lbs., just to see all of it return. She did portion control and reduced carbohydrates but only lost 10 lbs. and gained it back quickly. Jenette even tried appetite suppressant Phentermine without success. All this was beginning to take a toll on her emotional well-being.

She began investigating Sleeve Gastrectomy when her weight went over 200 lbs. Given that she was 5 feet tall, that meant she had become severely obese. That was the tipping point for Jenette. She opted to have bariatric surgery in November 2016. The procedure went very well, and she recovered within ten days. By May 2018, she had lost 80 lbs. and reduced her BMI from 40 to 23. She was at her ideal body weight and she could not believe it. She had stopped several medications and her health had significantly improved. Four years later, Jenette has been able to maintain her weight and enjoys her new-found energy. She exercises routinely and finds life simply more enjoyable.

Amir Helweh

When Amir met Dr. Zaré for the first time in 2014, he was 59 years old and unhealthy. He suffered from premature coronary artery disease and had already undergone open heart surgery, in which two of his heart vessels were bypassed. After that surgery, he had required a stenting procedure to open yet another vessel in his heart, and a pacemaker to maintain normal heart rhythm. He also suffered from Diabetes and required Insulin to maintain normal levels of blood sugar. He knew that his health was in decline, and since he was overweight by 75 lbs., he knew what was causing it.

After learning about the positive impact of Sleeve Gastrectomy on Diabetes, coronary artery disease and arrhythmias, Amir decided to proceed with surgery. When he was notified that his insurance pre-authorization process would take nearly a year to complete, he decided to self-finance the procedure and move forward with surgery without any delay. After all, with Diabetes affecting his organs, a year of delay would have been the difference between losing or keeping a vital organ.

Amir was extremely successful with his surgery. As he began losing weight, he noticed how his blood sugar was improving dramatically, his blood pressure was similarly showing lower readings, and his energy levels were increasing. He lost a total of 75 lbs. and has been able to maintain his weight for over 5 years now. At the young age of 65, his blood pressure averages 120/60, his cholesterol level is normal, and his quality of life has improved greatly. Amir is very happy that he found the courage to bring about such an important change to his life.