CityView Magazine

January 2021

CityView Magazine - Fayetteville, NC

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40 Januar y 2021 HEALTH A Bariatric Success Story BY KIM HAST Y F or Rachael Santillan, the epiphany that would lead to her nearly 100-pound weight loss came on a mountaintop in Ghana. "Everybody was passing me on the way up," she said. "Older people, younger people, they were all passing me. When I got to the top, I said, this is going to change." Aer years of trying a variety of diets, exercise and even medication, Santillan found her solution in Cape Fear Valley Health's bariatric surgery program. In the summer of 2017, she had a procedure known as sleeve gastrectomy, in which the stomach is reduced to about 15 percent of its normal size. "It really has changed my life," she said. "It was amazing." Santillan, 43, is a professional photographer whose specialty is capturing sweet poses of newborns, children and families. For nearly a decade, she has also sought opportunities to travel with nonprofit organizations to take photographs all over the world. e memorable work has allowed her to document heart-wrenching situations. "I was invited into the home of a woman in the slums of India, and she fed me," Santillan said. "And she has nothing. I have had so many experiences that could not be replicated. I've been into some of the deepest, darkest places. It's sad, some of the places I've been, but I love meeting these people because they're genuine people." But her weight was hampering her ability to travel comfortably. She already was familiar with bariatric possibilities and had no qualms about making the decision to undergo surgery. "I was excited," she said. Dr. James Classen, M.D., is a general surgeon who specializes in bariatric surgery. At Cape Fear Valley General Surgery Village Surgical, he performs bariatric surgeries on a weekly basis. Since 2002, Classen and his colleagues have built a strong program and performed nearly 3,000 bariatric surgeries. Dr. Classen, Ijeoma Ejeh, M.D., and Ovie Appresai, M.D., in conjunction with Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, have been named an American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence. Dr. James Classen, MD, is a general surgeon who specializes in bariatric surgery at Village Surgical Associates. "We're going to make you lose weight," Classen said. "But you still have to make good food choices and get on a good exercise program."

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