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Weight-Loss Surgery Gives Frankie Torres the Drive to Lose 100+ Pounds

Bariatric surgery helps steer truck driver toward a happier, healthier life

Living out his childhood dream of being a truck driver made maintaining a healthy lifestyle a nightmare for Frankie Torres.

“I was doing a lot of driving, a lot of sitting, a lot of eating unhealthy road food, and my weight just kept climbing,” Torres says.

As the weight added up, so did his struggles. Work became harder. “I was struggling to keep myself awake and with the actual work itself of unloading the truck and breaking down, moving and stacking pallets. I constantly needed to stop because I was exhausted or to catch my breath,” Torres says.

It wasn’t just his job that became harder. So did finding clothes that fit, getting quality sleep and being present when spending time with his family. His weight weighed heavily on his health, too. “I was having a lot of pain in my knees and my back. I was also suffering from borderline sleep apnea and was prediabetic,” Torres says.

The problem wasn’t a lack of effort. Torres was actively trying to lose the weight, but he just couldn’t drop the weight and keep it off. “I tried going to the gym and cleaning up my diet, but working crazy hours, it was almost impossible for me to do,” Torres says. “During that period of trying to lose the weight on my own, I would lose around 5 pounds. But then a month later it would come right back. It was just an endless roller coaster with my weight going up and down the whole time.”

Doing it on his own wasn’t working, so Torres turned to the bariatric program at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) for help.

Handing the wheel to LVHN’s bariatric program

Unsure whether bariatric surgery was right for him, Torres attended a free bariatric surgery information session at LVHN where he learned all about LVHN’s bariatric medicine program and was able to have all his questions answered.

“I knew I couldn’t make the necessary changes on my own. I felt like weight-loss surgery was the change I needed to lose the weight and would give me a head start on changing my life,” Torres says.

Torres began the bariatric program in December 2021. He then spent the next six months preparing for his life-changing surgery. “There was a lot of information being thrown at you, but it was all information that was helping,” he says. “It taught me what I have to do to be able to succeed in what I want, which is to lose the weight and keep it off.”

One of the most impactful tools Torres was provided through the bariatric program was a therapist, which led to a breakthrough discovery in his weight-loss journey.

“During the process leading up to the surgery, we had to sit with a therapist and get to the bottom of what was causing us to constantly feel the need or the urge to eat,” Torres says. “The underlying issue that was causing me to constantly need to eat was that food has always been a comfort zone for me. Whenever I’m bored or angry or upset or even happy, I eat. Doesn’t matter what it is. I’m always eating. Figuring that out was really big.”

Taking his weight loss up a gear through surgery

On May 25, 2022, Torres underwent a sleeve gastrectomy where about 75 percent of his stomach was removed, leaving a narrow tube – or sleeve – of a stomach. Bariatric surgeon T. Daniel Harrison, DO, with Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence, performed Torres’ robotic-assisted bariatric surgery using minimally invasive techniques, which result in fewer incisions, less scarring and a faster, easier recovery. And Torres’ recovery stands as proof of that.

He says his recovery couldn’t have gone better. “My recovery time was very quick. I was literally out the next day after the surgery. And not even a week later I was back at work,” Torres says.

What wasn’t necessarily easy was changing his habits so he could finally lose the weight and keep it off. “After the surgery it was a little hard to get used to not turning to food for comfort. Trying to find other ways to deal with my emotions outside of grabbing something to eat was something I had to learn.”

“Frankie’s story is similar to so many others struggling with the disease of obesity,” Dr. Harrison says. “They can lose weight on their own, but struggle mightily and often unsuccessfully to keep it off. Bariatric surgery not only restricts eating but affects appetite hormones which helps combat weight regain. Those hormonal changes, coupled with our multidisciplinary program of dietitians and counselors, is what makes surgery so successful.”

For the long haul

Today, Torres is down 108 pounds and he feels like a weight has been lifted from his chest. He’s able to sleep better at night and has more energy now than he ever did before.

“It’s just so many different things that I’m able to do now that I was constricted before from being able to do,” Torres says. “I can actually run and not feel like my whole chest is caving in on me. I’m able to play basketball with my son. I’m able to go out with my wife or take walks with her. I’m able to do my job and not feel exhausted from doing it.

“Bariatric surgery allowed me to feel like myself. It allowed me to feel young again. It allowed me to be able to enjoy my life with my kids and my wife,” Torres says. “This truly was a life-changing surgery for me.”

Byron lost 140 lbs through Bariatric Surgery at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Weight Loss and Management

Lehigh Valley Health Network’s weight-loss team provides a comprehensive, lifelong approach to wellness and weight management. Our experienced care team, including surgeons, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, registered dietitians and behavioral health specialists, helps you meet your health goals.

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