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Krystal Washington never let her weight get in her way. The successful young woman had a great career, a man she loved and married, and together, they were ready to take the next step.
“My husband and I were wanting to have children and were having some difficulty,” remembers Washington, “We went to my OB/GYN and were working with her. She said you’re relatively healthy and you’re young, there’s really no reason why you’re not getting pregnant.”
After months of trying, they took their quest for a family to a specialist, “We went to a fertility specialist and his point of view was a little different than my OB’s. He just straight up said, ‘It’s because you’re too fat.’”
His delivery was a smack in the face, “I was always aware that I was fat, but that was probably the first time that me, being my size, was the reason that I couldn’t do something. He didn’t sugar coat it and he wasn’t really nice about it either. He said, don’t waste my time and yours, you need to get weight loss surgery before you even think about having children because at this size it’s not safe for you or the baby. It was devastating.”
Krystal and her husband wound up having two healthy children on their own, but the seed was planted.
“I think that was a wakeup call, you know you’re big, but you don’t ever get it from someone else’s point of view, because people that love you are not going to say, ‘Hey Krystal, you’re kinda getting up there.’ It took this stranger, who I had never met, on our first encounter, to say something to me.”
Krystal started to investigate her options, attending an occasional weight loss seminar but never making that first appointment.
“My best friend had weight loss surgery, I saw her transformation and I thought she looked awesome. It was something I wanted to do,” remembers Krystal. But, she didn’t decide to pull the trigger until she had an insurance change, “I said to myself, it’s a new year, we got this new insurance, I’ll see if it’s covered. I’ll go to another seminar and I’m just going to do it, no more excuses. We’ll just see what happens.”
It was then she found Drs. Halmi and Rezvani.
“I found Dr. Halmi and Dr. Rezvani based on my own laziness. We were about to move back to the Woodbridge-area and I found them online. I just figured if I went in and didn’t like them, I wanted to like the person who was going to be cutting me open, I figured I would leave. But, when I met Dr. Rezvani, he was really sweet, but to a point. And I need that- I need someone who’s not going to sugar coat things for me but is not going to hurt my feelings either, and I think it was a healthy balance of both.”
Given Krystal’s height, weight, goals and relatively good health, Dr. Rezvani identified her as a candidate for Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (BPD-DS) also known more commonly as a Duodenal Switch. The Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (BPD/DS) is a 2-part procedure. First, a portion of the stomach is removed to create a smaller stomach pouch, similar to the sleeve gastrectomy procedure. Then, the bottom part of the small intestine is brought up and connected to the new stomach pouch, bypassing a large portion of the small intestine.
“BPD-DS is a very unique procedure,” explains Masoud Rezvani, MD, FACS, FASMBS, “First, it’s an extremely, technically difficult procedure. And number two, it requires patients who have a very high BMI, persistent obesity without any treatment or response to other treatments. It’s not for everyone, but bariatric surgery works if we choose the right procedure for the right patient,”
Dr. Rezvani is one of only a handful of doctors performing this procedure in the Commonwealth and the United States. The procedure requires more maintenance for its patients, but the results are more significant and longer term than other procedures out there. Krystal, who likes to weigh her options, did her homework, investigated the different procedures and decided the duodenal switch (DS) would be an ideal procedure for her and her lifestyle.
“I had heard about the gastric sleeve; I didn’t know if it was really for me because people I knew who had it said they didn’t have a lot of restrictions. I’m someone who needs restriction – I’m one that will eat that brownie, will have that cake, I needed something to scare me to just say no,” says Krystal. “Dr. Rezvani allowed me to do research, and that’s what I did. I did research everywhere. This wasn’t something that was common, so it was hard to find people, but I did. And, one group I’m a part of said, ‘People will say that the gastric bypass is the gold standard, but what they don’t tell you is DS is the platinum standard.’ It’s something that you can maintain your weight loss and you can maintain your results better overall. And that’s what I wanted. I didn’t want to lose a whole lot of weight the first year and then you see me in 5 years and I’m back to 200lbs, which is sometimes what you’ll see with a sleeve or with the gastric bypass.”
Krystal had her surgery in May 2017. At that point, she weighed 387 pounds, but her road to recovery wasn’t an easy one. On the day Krystal was to be released Dr. Rezvani noticed she was breathing irregularly. A CT scan discovered she had blood clots in her lungs. Krystal was eventually released but spent the summer dealing with that and gastritis. That’s when she was brought to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.
“I recommend Sentara because they were able to take care of me, from the time I got there in the ambulance – everyone was very kind and more importantly, kept me abreast of what was going on. That was important to me because I like to be informed, I’m the girl who does research on everything. They explained everything to me in a lot of detail,” she remembers.
After doctors were able to get her clots and gastritis under control, Krystal returned to work. At first, she didn’t realize how much weight she had lost. “I don’t weight myself, I would only weigh in when I had a doctor’s appointment. So, when I got back to work everyone’s jaw dropped and I was like, ‘What? I haven’t even lost any weight yet!’ And they were like, ‘Are you kidding?’"
For Krystal, her “ah-ha” moment came when she went to put on her favorite pair of jeans, “I’m a girl that loves jeans. And I put on my favorite jeans and they fell right off me! My husband was like, ‘Yeah, it might be time to go shopping.’ And when my husband tells me to go shopping, he doesn’t have to tell me twice!” she laughs, remembering.
Krystal has gone from size 24 to a 10/12. But, it’s not just the size of her clothing which has changed, it’s the quality of her life. “I feel awesome, this was actually the best thing I've ever done,” she says smiling. “I had a vision of how I wanted my life to look. I’ve always been someone who wanted to be active and get up and go, but I think even more so now, I have that drive. It makes family vacations better. I’m a girl that loves roller coasters and it would devastate me when I couldn’t ride when I was heavier, so now I’m like, ‘Let’s go to the amusement park!' I’m outrunning the kids!”
Surgery isn’t for everyone. To learn if you qualify, visit sentaranova.com/wl, where you can watch our informational videos to discover if weight loss surgery is right for you. Or you can call 1-800-SENTARA to learn more.