Patient Loses 195 Pounds and Feels 'Incredible'

John Calabretto (photo-
graphed in March 2010)
plays with his cat,

John Calabretto
prior to surgery.

John Calabretto works in the beauty industry - where image is important. He definitely didn't like the image he saw when he looked in the mirror.

Weighing 390 pounds at 5 feet, 10 inches, Calabretto couldn't lose weight. As regional director of operations for a beauty-related company, Calabretto, 43, was on the road about 75 percent of the time - making business presentations.

With non-stop travels, the Rogers Park resident was less active, eating late at night and not making good food choices. He always exercised regularly, and although he was overweight, did not have high blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

Tried every diet

"I come from a very large Italian family that centers on eating at gatherings," said Calabretto, who was husky as a teen, but active in sports. He tried every diet out there. About six or seven years ago, he had lost 75 pounds, but only managed to keep it off for a few years.

The 43-year-old didn't like the image he was projecting and was concerned about health issues down the road.

In April 2009, Calabretto opted for one of the newer bariatric (surgical weight-loss) procedures - a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. Rami Lutfi, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board-certified bariatric surgeon, performed the 45-minute procedure at Saint Joseph Hospital. Calabretto was hospitalized for three days. Dr. Lutfi is medical director of Saint Joseph Hospital's Chicago Institute of Advanced Bariatrics.

Eat less, lose weight

Saint Joseph is one of the first hospitals in Illinois to offer this procedure, which involves the surgical removal of most of the stomach - resulting in a "sleeve" that is roughly the size and shape of a banana. As a result, patients eat less and lose weight because of reduced-stomach capacity.

As of March 2010 - only 11 months after surgery - Calabretto shed half his weight. He was down to 195 pounds.

Four days after surgery he was riding a stationary bike, and returned to work a day after that.

On treadmill for two hours

"I feel great - incredible," said Calabretto, noting it's been difficult to keep up with his wardrobe and weight loss. "I'm on the treadmill two hours a day - six days a week." He also works out with a personal trainer. He used to work out for 10 minutes on the treadmill and be winded.

He said he followed the advice of bariatric specialists - Kim Mahoney, registered dietitian; Alexis Siegel, R.N., program coordinator and Dr. Lutfi - who are a "great team of people."

Spends time with patients

"Dr. Lutfi is such a personable guy - I really like him," said Calabretto, noting the doctor spends lots of time with patients during follow-up visits.

One thing Calabretto won't miss? Getting to the airport hours in advance of his flight to make sure he would get an aisle seat with more room. Or, wondering if the seatbelt would fasten.

In spring 2010, Calabretto will have a body lift at Saint Joseph, the first of three cosmetic procedures to remove about 30 pounds of excess skin and to sculpt his body.

"I look forward to the next chapter of my life and where it takes me," he said.

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