Overlake Helps Volunteer Santa Slim Down for the New Year

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Dave in Santa suit.

One year after having weight loss surgery and losing over 150 pounds, Dave Schmidt, 56, feels healthier than ever and is back to doing the things he loves most—with one notable change. “I volunteer as Santa for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. For the last 10 years, I haven’t needed a pillow to give the appearance of a round belly in my Santa costume. When you weigh over 350 pounds, you probably have a believable belly,” Dave laughs. “Over the holidays, my new motto was, ‘Bring back the pillow!’”

In February 2021, Dave’s health was at the forefront of his mind when he went for his annual checkup. Only a month earlier, his father had passed away from disorders related to obesity, including diabetes, congestive heart failure and kidney disease. Weighing over 400 pounds, Dave was already struggling with prediabetes, taking blood pressure medication and suffering from sleep apnea. “My future was looking like my dad’s,” Dave reflects. Dave’s primary care physician asked if he had considered weight loss surgery and referred him to Overlake’s Metabolic & Bariatrics Clinic.

Dave stretching in athletic wear.

Feeling hesitant at his first consultation, Dave asked Patricia Mathis, ARNP, if he was taking the easy way out. He recalls Patricia’s honest response, "There is nothing easy about this path; however, we will set up a program for you to succeed." With this added reassurance, Dave began his weight loss journey—meeting with Overlake’s Metabolic & Bariatrics team, including a psychologist, nutritionist and cardiologist.

While preparing for surgery's emotional toll, Dave regularly attended Overlake's pre-surgery weight loss support group. Clinical Dietician Carrie Tollefson, RD, CD, recommends all patients attend these group sessions before surgery. “The group provides an opportunity for those seeking surgery to witness other people's experiences, to ask questions to those who have already had surgery and to have a place where they feel understood,” Carrie says. “While our patients are wonderful resources, we also have the expertise of our multidisciplinary team to guide the conversation and offer our help when needed.”

With the support of former patients, his care team and bariatric surgeon Thien Nguyen, MD, Dave felt confident he was making the right choice. In December 2021, Dave arrived at Overlake to receive Roux-en-Y—pronounced "roo-en-why"—gastric bypass surgery. The minimally invasive procedure promotes weight loss by reducing the amount of food the stomach can hold, decreasing hunger and improving feelings of fullness.

Dave's care team in holiday attire.

After a successful surgery, Dave spent two days in the hospital recovering. Knowing Dave volunteered as Santa in his free time, his care team dressed in their most festive holiday attire to surprise him. Seeing Dave after surgery, his Clinical Dietician Carrie recalls, "Dave's sparkling smile, jovial personality and giving spirit were always there, but I think they're shining even brighter now." Dave enthusiastically agrees, "I am so grateful for the Overlake metabolic and bariatrics program. Everyone is top-notch in their professions but even better people. They truly want you to succeed. The program works if you put the work in."

To learn more about Overlake’s comprehensive, personalized metabolic and bariatric treatment options, visit: overlakehospital.org/services/weight-loss.

Bariatric award logos.





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