Healthy You - Every Day

From Failing Liver to Never Been More Alive

Byron Bachman makes lifesaving decision to have bariatric surgery

Byron Backman Weight Loss

In some families, food is more than just what you eat at a meal. It’s the binding ingredient for their family. That’s how it was for Byron Bachman. Growing up, food was a big part of his family, and because it was always around, Bachman found himself struggling with his weight at an early age. 

By sixth grade, Bachman weighed 200 pounds and his weight continued to go up from there. But things changed when Bachman found out just how much his weight was affecting his health.

Weight-loss ultimatum

At just 36, Bachman was diagnosed with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) – a serious form of fatty liver disease that causes the liver to swell and become damaged because of fat deposits in the liver – and stage 2 liver fibrosis (liver scarring). The latter meant that scarred tissue was replacing healthy tissue in his liver and affecting how well his liver functioned. Without weight loss, Bachman would find himself on the liver transplant list in 10 years. 

“Hearing I would find myself on the liver transplant list in 10 years if I didn’t make a change was eye opening,” Bachman says. A devoted husband and father to two young boys, Bachman knew what he had to do. From that moment on, he got serious about his weight loss. For the next two years, Bachman actively tried to lose weight on his own, never seeing anything more than temporary success.

“No matter which diet I tried, it always went the same way,” Bachman says. “I would lose weight only to gain it back shortly after. Unfortunately, to me, a diet was just that – a diet. And if I was going to see any true results, I needed something more than a diet. I needed a lifestyle change. That’s when I turned to the bariatric program at Lehigh Valley Health Network [LVHN] for help.”

Byron’s bariatric journey begins

Bachman took the first step toward “changing his life” and attended a free bariatric surgery information session where he learned all about LVHN’s bariatric medicine program. “I was very impressed by what the program had to offer, particularly with how much education was involved. This was something bigger than just surgery,” Bachman says. 

In February 2022, Bachman began his bariatric surgery journey. He weighed 351 pounds, wore a size 50 pant, was constantly depleted of energy, and was not very happy with himself or his life. But for the first time in a long time, he was hopeful about the potential for weight loss.

First on the list was a meeting with a nurse navigator for LVHN’s bariatric medicine program where Bachman was walked through the entire weight-loss program, from start to finish. He then spent the next few months absorbing all the information he was learning. From portion control to other do’s and don’ts of nutrition and dieting, Bachman diligently gathered the tools he needed for his weight loss to be a success.

“Through the program, you really get a lot of information, a lot of education on how you need to eat, what you need to eat, what you should be putting in your body and why,” Bachman says. “They made sure I had the tools I needed to help change my life.”

Robotic-assisted surgery

When Bachman went in for his surgery, he had lost almost 40 pounds simply from implementing what he was learning through the program into his life, and he was already feeling better. 

On July 18, 2022, Bachman underwent a gastric bypass – a procedure that assists in weight loss through restriction and malabsorption. Bariatric surgeon Richard Boorse, MD, with Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence, performed Bachman’s robotic-assisted bariatric surgery using minimally invasive techniques, which result in less scarring and a faster, easier recovery.

“I had robotic-assisted bariatric surgery and the recovery time was very quick,” Bachman says. “I had a few small incisions on my abdomen – and within a few days I didn’t even know they were there.”

After having the surgery, Bachman says, the weight started dropping off. A year later, Byron was down almost 150 pounds, with his weight hovering around 200 pounds for the first time since sixth grade. Even better, Bachman’s elevated liver enzymes had completely resolved and his liver is close to 100% healed. 

“Knowing that my liver healed and that I no longer had to go back to my liver doctor – that was pretty powerful,” Bachman says.

Coach dad

Today, Bachman is living a completely different life than he was less than two years ago. Now a size 36 pant and large shirt, Bachman no longer must order special clothes; he can shop right off the rack. Feeling fantastic with “10 times more energy” than he ever had before, Bachman is able to spend more quality time with his sons, Jack (8) and Charlie (5), and is even coaching them in baseball, football and bowling. 

“It’s incredible to watch the difference between from how Byron was before and how he is now – particularly with our kids,” says Bachman’s wife, Nicole. “Before he lost the weight, Byron wanted to be in the moment with our kids, but he just couldn’t. But now he’s really there with them. He’s no longer sitting on a chair in front of the goal acting as the goalie. Now he is up and moving, actively guarding the net and actually being the goalie.”

“Bariatric surgery changed my life,” Bachman says.

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