Matthew Daniels had been a “big guy” for all his life. He was active, played sports in school, and was never really slowed down by his weight. That started to change five years ago as his weight continued to creep up year after year, until he recognized a noticeable change in his ability to do things he wanted to do.
“I married the love of my life, we had three children, and I started building my business. All the while I was gaining 10 pounds or more a year, and my weight started to become a struggle,” says Matthew. “As my kids grew, they wanted to do more and more things – ride roller coasters, play ball in the yard – and it was getting harder and harder for me to keep up with them.”
Like many people, Matthew found that dieting didn’t produce long lasting results. He’d follow a specific plan for month or two then fall off the wagon, regaining the pounds he’d lost and usually adding an extra 5 or 10. It wasn’t until his bi-annual DOT physical with his family doctor that he finally considered a more permanent solution to his weight issues.
“My doctor has known me since I was a kid, and he had always encouraged me to lose weight. This time he wasn’t going to give me a clear physical to renew my commercial driver’s license. But it wasn’t until he said my weight out loud – 370 pounds – that it really clicked that I needed to make a change,” remembers Matthew.
After doing extensive research, Matthew found Dr. Ponce and went in for a consultation. Dr. Ponce was surprised and excited that Matthew hadn’t developed diabetes or hypertension and felt that he could have a great result from bariatric surgery. Based on Matthew’s preferences, his health status and other factors, Dr. Ponce recommended vertical sleeve gastrectomy, a weight loss procedure that reduces the stomach to 15 to 20 percent of its original size. The laparoscopic procedure decreases the amount of food a person is able to consume and stimulates hormonal changes that make weight loss easier.
“My wife and I talked everything over for a few weeks, and I decided to go for it. Because I was self-pay, I quickly moved through the qualification process. Dr. Ponce’s staff helped me and supported me every step of the way,” says Matthew. “One of the most valuable parts of the experience has been the support groups where I’ve shared my struggles with other people who are going through the same challenges. The members of the group are incredible, and I really resonated with their struggles with food addiction and weight loss. Even after my surgery, I’m still attending because it helps keep me on track and gives me an opportunity to encourage others.”
Two weeks before surgery, Matthew started a liquid diet to prepare his body for the changes to come. On the day of surgery, it took just three hours from start to finish before Matthew was in recovery. He spent one night in the hospital and was released by Dr. Ponce to go home early the next morning. Matthew recovered quickly at home, returning to work faster than expected. He also saw an immediate change in his desire for food and how his body responded to eating.
“I honestly had no pain after surgery and felt great in just two or three days. I knew that I couldn’t do any physical work or lift something heavy, but I was back to the clerical parts of my job right away,” says Matthew. “The two weeks of liquid diet after surgery were much easier than the first, because I wasn’t hungry like I used to be. Then I moved to soft foods and gradually began eating normally again. The procedure completely changed how I’ve thought about food my entire life. Instead of hunger pains first thing in the morning and eating until I’m stuffed, I eat to sustain my body and give it the energy it needs for me to be at my best.”
At three months out from surgery, Matthew has lost 80 pounds and expects that the downward trend of his weight to continue. He’s seen a dramatic impact on his relationship with his family – including the intimate relationship he has with his wife and the ability to play and be active with his kids without needing to stop and rest. But most importantly, Matthew has experienced a huge change within himself and his self-esteem that he wasn’t expecting before having this procedure.
“There are things that I’ve accomplished in life that I’m proud of – like getting married to my wife, having my children, and starting a business. But I’ve always felt bad about myself inside. I made this decision for me, and I wish I had done it 15 years ago. It has completely changed my life and the relationship I have with myself,” he says.
High Praise for Dr. Ponce
Although the process of weight loss surgery can seem daunting, Matthew notes that Dr. Ponce and his staff helped him through every step – from Dr. Ponce’s clear explanation of his options to psychological evaluations and support groups to help with financial details.
“Dr. Ponce was down to earth and knowledgeable, and I was completely comfortable with him performing my surgery,” says Matthew. “Choosing weight loss surgery isn’t an easy decision to make, but Dr. Ponce and his team became my allies and friends throughout this journey. This was the best choice I’ve made for myself and my family, and I hope other people are encouraged to take this step by hearing my story.” Individual results may vary.