'Great big gut' goes away after successful gastric bypass

Friday, October 18, 2002

Two months after his gastric bypass surgery, the impact of Bruce Melvin's new, leaner look became abundantly clear as he stood behind his lawn mower, his now-oversized pants bunched up around his now-thinner ankles.

"They just fell off," said Melvin, a 6-foot-2-inch tall Cape Girardeau resident who is 230 pounds six months after he weighed 317. "Those pants were way too big. It's a good thing I was wearing underwear, or I would really have been a sight. My neighbors would have called the law."

Six months ago, Melvin would have recommended they call the food police. A self-described "food-aholic," he ate constantly, easily able to gobble down two quarter-pound cheeseburgers and then polish off a whole pizza. He usually ate at least 15 candy bars a day.

"I ate all the time, from sun-up to sun-down," he said. "Everything I did included food. If I wasn't eating, I was thinking about eating."

It was a long-time problem. As a child, he remembers other children calling, "There goes fatty," when he walked by. He couldn't ride a bike. He couldn't play for long periods of time.

"Breathing was even hard sometimes," he said. "I had had enough."

So in May, he went under the knife, just as his wife had 2 1/2 years before, which helped her shed more than 100 pounds. He had gastric bypass surgery, which, through the use of staples, a portion of the stomach is sectioned off, creating a small pouch for reduced food intake. The pouch usually holds 1 ounce of food or less, which causes the feeling of fullness after just a few bites.

Over the last six months, the weight just dropped off, he says, and now Melvin feels better than ever. But he still wants to lose 50 more pounds.

He's gone from a waist size of 48 to 38 and he no longer has his "great big gut."

"It's unbelievable," he said. "I can move around better. I have more energy. Now eat a little bit of food and get full. Before, I never really felt full."

Melvin also no longer has to worry about any lawn-mower mishaps.

"I threw away all my fat clothes," he said, grinning. "I'll never need those things again."

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