Dustin Holston is 21 years old and can finally say he has learned how to feed himself properly. Just a few years ago, he tipped the scales at 366 pounds and was so worn out by any activity that all he wanted to do was sleep. His doctor told him he was at risk for heart failure. At 16, he was one of the estimated 4 percent of kids in the country considered morbidly obese and already justifiably worried about dying. That's what brought him to the Surgical Weight Loss Center for Teens at Cincinnati Children's, where he met dieticians and counselors who taught him to adopt a healthier lifestyle. To become a candidate for weight-loss surgery, Holston had to first prove that he could lose weight on his own. He stopped drinking soda and began to prepare better meals for himself. He eliminated red meat from his diet and replaced junk food with lean protein, vegetables and fruits. He got moving. And the first 50 pounds fell away. Then Thomas Inge, MD, PhD, surgical director of the weight loss center, performed what's called a gastric sleeve operation, a surgery that reshapes the stomach to become the shape of a banana rather than a large football.
It's not an operation Inge takes lightly. First and foremost, he works to teach kids and parents to change bad habits. The Food and Drug Administration considers him an expert on treating pediatric obesity. He has done extensive research on the role of surgery in teen weight loss, and he saw the gastric sleeve procedure as a good tool for Holston, his 132nd case of teen weight-loss surgery. A year and a half since his surgery, Holston is 160 pounds lighter and credits the surgery for saving his life. Listen to Dr. Inge and Dustin talk about the journey in this "Tell Me a Story".