East Tenn. couple undergoes gastric bypass surgery together

Couple undergoes gastric bypass surgery together, begins healthier lifestyle
Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 5:23 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Classwork is part of what Brian and Rebecca Marcum signed up for when they committed to undergo Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Along with weigh-ins, drastic diet changes and a consistently active lifestyle.

The couple is halfway toward their weight loss goals of around 100 pounds each and say they are ecstatic with their results so far.

The Marcum’s decided on the bariatric surgery with the guidance of Dr. Kyle Kleppe, meeting the criteria of at least a body mass index of at least 35 and life-risking ailments that could be associated with that level of obesity. “There’s a whole lot of other medical problems that are cured or improved by having weight-loss surgery such as diabetes, high blood pressure and the like,” said Dr. Kleppe.

Their insurance company agreed to pay for most of the bill, and the Marcum’s scheduled their surgery four days before Christmas in 2020.

Brian said, “Her surgery was at 7:30 a.m., Mine was at 10:30 a.m.” One of their adult children took them home and cared for them in immediate days following surgery.

Dr. Kleppe said he typically conducts two to three bariatric surgeries each day, just not usually a related couple. “We have a whole team of people that are helping us. We’re also at an academic medical center here and we have residents and fellows that participate in the care.”

Both before and after surgery, the Marcums had to follow a strict food regimen, including liquid diets for a portion of the time. Now, they still must carefully measure small portions. Rebecca said she does not feel the same hunger she did in the past. “You start eating and you eat four bites and you’re full. You can’t eat anymore.”

They had always enjoyed the outdoors around East Tennessee and doing things like hiking, but it had gotten more difficult as the weight added on through the years. Brian said the weight loss didn’t seem to work for them. “We had been doing the ‘Yo-Yo diet’ and working out and it just wasn’t working.”

Now, they are making plans for a more active Valentine’s Day focused on fun rather than food. “We love to start hiking in the wintertime because it’s not so hot,” said Brian. “We may do a Valentine’s Day hike.”

“Getting to spend more time together and quality time together, in the long run, is gonna be the most important thing,” said Dr. Kleppe.

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