Top Doctors 2016
DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.
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Fit for Life
Starla Elder was a yo-yo dieter, losing and gaining the same pounds all of her life. But then, Dr. Christopher Edwards, a Top Doctors winner in the laparoscopic and bariatric surgery categories, performed a gastric sleeve surgery that changed her life.
Dr. Christopher Edwards performed bariatric surgery on Starla Elder, helping her lose more than 100 pounds.
The average human’s stomach is about the size of football. Starla Elder’s stomach is the size of a banana. It wasn’t always that small though—before her gastric sleeve surgery, Elder weighed 243 pounds and had done every fad diet she read about. She noticed one of her friends having great weight loss results, and asked her what her secret was. It was bariatric surgery, so Elder filled out the paperwork and started the consultation process with Dr. Christopher Edwards at Mercy Springfield in July 2013.
Elder met with an entire team of specialists to make sure bariatric surgery was right for her. She had psychological tests to check for an addictive personality, she met with a dietitian to learn how to stay full and energized properly, and she met with Edwards’ office for support meetings. This preparation took about nine months, because gastric sleeve surgery is an irreversible procedure. “It really is life-changing,” Elder says. “You have to go in with the right expectations and for the right reasons.” Elder had her surgery on January 15, 2014.
Edwards is a general surgeon who specializes in bariatric surgeries, because it impacts a patient in ways no other surgery does, he says. “These people have struggled their whole lives, and we have the opportunity to change their lives forever,” he says. “We’re basically giving them a new opportunity.” But beyond changing his patients’ lives, Edwards works to change society’s view of people who struggle with weight. “There is a tremendous bias in society and healthcare toward the obese patient,” he says. “This isn’t a behavior thing, but a medical disease.” Edwards also fights to get more medical coverage for his patients when insurance companies see bariatric surgery as a cosmetic procedure. He says weight loss is a solution to address factors that limit life expectancy. For Elder, losing the weight meant gaining the energy to take adventures in her life again, and to be the best nurse she can be. “I didn’t want to move slowly and not be able to do my job for my patients,” she says. She has lost 107 pounds, and has completely transformed her diet. Despite the surgery removing close to 80 percent of her stomach, she says she hasn’t found anything that she can’t eat. It’s just all about portion control, and eating the right things to keep full.
Elder still meets with Edwards for follow-up consultations. She says she’s beyond grateful for his staff and their encouragement throughout the entire process. “They’re cheerleaders, and they don’t make you feel ashamed,” she says. “Dr. Edwards just genuinely cares about you.”
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