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Published on June 26, 2018

Weight Loss Surgery: Finding the Right Tools

Jon Cornett-McKee - Bariatrics patient

“We all want to lose weight, and I’ve had my successes; but they weren’t long-term,” says Jon Cornett-McKee, 28, of Roanoke, VA.

With the help of the team he found at Cone Health, that’s changed, for good. Jon has been successfully losing weight now for over a year, and he is still losing five to 10 lbs. a month, remaining true to his straight-line path towards a healthier life.

In April of 2017, he weighed 375 lbs. Just a year later, he was down by 160 lbs. Instead of searching for XL shirts, he now shops on the “medium” rack.

“Before, I didn’t have the discipline to keep the weight off. Now, I have both the discipline and the tools that will last me for the rest of my life.”

These “tools” came from the professionals he’s met in the Cone Health Bariatric Surgery Program. “They made it clear that I would have access to the entire bariatric team,” he says. “I could tell that they wanted to help make a difference in my life as much as I did.”

Choosing carefully

Jon didn’t enter into bariatric surgery lightly. He resisted for years, trying medicines, physician-led programs and more. However, once married and looking toward starting a family in the future with husband Patrick, he decided he was ready to take this step to a healthier life.

Even after deciding on bariatric surgery, Jon continued to make choices carefully.

Weight Loss Surgery - Finding the Right Tools

Jon Cornett-McKee before and after surgery.

“When I decided to have bariatric surgery, I did quite a bit of research,” he says. He spent three months looking for the right team. In addition to talking with several bariatric specialists near his home in Virginia, he talked to a lot of people who had had the procedure. Several—including a relative and a coworker—pointed him to the team at Cone Health.

“A big determining factor was when I met with the doctors at Cone,” Jon says. “They answered all my questions, explained the process and what each step looked like. They listened to what I had to say about my research and the procedure I was considering. And together we discussed my options.”

For a lifetime

His research also included looking into support before, during and after surgery. “Bariatric programs near me didn’t have the same team approach that Cone Health does,” he says. The experts there collaborate, he says. Physicians, nurses, dietitians, psychologists, exercise physiologists and insurance specialists all work closely to customize the program for each person’s success.

“They’re here to help us through the process, and beyond,” Jon says.

That strong support affects everyone involved, including fellow patients. He found that Cone has a welcoming support group and active members on a private Facebook page. “Everyone—from the staff to the patients—are about helping each other. That’s not true at all the places I looked into.”

Small victories and large

When reflecting on his success with the bariatric program, weight loss is an obvious measure. But the health benefits have been significant for Jon, as well. “I used to have severe sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and no energy whatsoever. The energy I have now is an eye-opener,” he says, with some amazement in his voice.

How does that new energy play out? He’s training weekly for a 5K and has his sights set for a 10K. “My dream is not only to do that, but to have a good time doing it.”

Jon also celebrates the smaller victories. “I did a push up last week, something I’ve never been able to do before,” he says, then laughs. “Who gets excited about doing a push-up?!”

Jon does, and his friends and family do. And then there’s the staff at Cone Health Bariatric Surgery Program.

“I remind myself every day that my journey isn’t over now that I’m so much healthier. It’s really just beginning.”

About Cone Health Bariatric Surgery

The Cone Health Bariatric Surgery Program is the only program in the Triad that is recognized as a Center of Excellence by North Carolina’s top four health plans:

    • Aetna Institute of Quality (IOQ) for Bariatric Surgery
    • BlueCross BlueShield Blue Distinction Center Plus (+) for Bariatric Surgery
    • Cigna Designated Facility for Bariatric Surgery
    • UnitedHealthcare Center of Excellence for Bariatric Surgery