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NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue’s Center for Bariatric Surgery celebrates 15 years of transformative success

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In a dazzling display of triumph over obesity, the Center for Bariatric Surgery and Weight Management at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue commemorated its 15th anniversary this month with a star-studded patient runway show.

The 12th Annual Bariatric Celebration and Red Carpet Runway Show, the first since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, drew over 200 attendees eager to applaud the astonishing weight losses and newfound vitality of nearly 100 bariatric surgery patients.

Against a backdrop of “before” photos flashing on a screen, patients confidently walked the red carpet, sharing their inspirational testimonials.

The atmosphere buzzed with enthusiastic applause and cheers of support from family, friends, fellow patients, and hospital staff. This joyous occasion marked a triumphant return to celebration after the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Nate Link, MD, Chief Medical Officer at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, expressed pride in the program’s growth, stating, “We started small, and this year we’re on the path to do 3,000 cases. There is such a need for this surgery, and I’m proud of our team for delivering on that.”

Dr. Manish Parikh, the director of the Center for Obesity and Weight Management, emphasized gratitude to the entire team for their dedication to improving patients’ health.

The multidisciplinary program, accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), was established in 2008 to address the rising demand for bariatric surgery among an underserved population.

The program offers various treatment approaches, including gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and adjustable gastric banding, with patients undergoing thorough screening and preparation before surgery.

The MBSAQIP accreditation survey praised the Bellevue program as an “extremely structured program with experienced leadership and efficient processes.” Despite its high volume, the program maintains exceptional quality.

Bariatric surgery has been a transformative lifeline for patients, reducing the risk of weight-related health problems.

On average, patients lose 50-70% of their excess weight and experience significant health improvements, including relief from conditions like osteoarthritis.

Patient testimonials echoed the life-changing impact of bariatric surgery. Dorka De Los Santos, whose surgery saved her from medication and improved her ability to keep up with daily activities, stated, “The surgery saved my life.” Benjamin Mendez celebrated significant health improvements, stating, “This surgery was a game-changer for sure.”

Other patients shared stories of normalized blood pressure, reduced reliance on medication, and newfound confidence and happiness.

Ana Valentin, who lost 120 lbs., emphasized the positive shift in her lifestyle, saying, “Today, I am more active and able to live a healthy lifestyle.”

Erika Cuasquer encapsulated the emotional transformation, declaring, “After my gastric sleeve surgery, I feel beautiful again, I have confidence, I do things out of my comfort zone now, and I love life again. This was more than just a surgery for me – this was a second chance at life.”

The Center for Bariatric Surgery and Weight Management’s 15-year milestone celebration not only spotlighted medical achievements but also highlighted the resilience and newfound joy of patients on their transformative journeys to improved health.

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