Bariatric surgery is not just another surgical procedure. It’s life-changing. That’s why here at New Life Center for Bariatric Surgery in Knoxville, we want to make sure that you get the best possible care in all phases of bariatric surgery. And we’re proud to say that we have a really great team to help you prepare for the surgery and life after it
We want you to feel comfortable with the people you’ll be working with. We want to give you an idea of who they are, why they got into bariatric surgery, and tips they can give for you, a prospective patient.
Let’s get to know Nurse Sarah, our bariatric nurse.
Nurse Sarah has been a certified bariatric nurse for 12 years now. Like other nursing specialties, it’s one of those that you have to sit down for an exam to be certified.
What made you choose bariatrics?
“It somehow chose me. I started on the oncology/surgery unit at our hospital. Oncology was my original plan. So I started taking care of more surgical patients and when one of our doctors started doing bariatric surgeries, I realized that that was really where my niche was in nursing. I love the fact that the patients got well and not sicker and that we were able to see them get better.
We have our patients that come in to their first visit who in wheelchairs and using scooters. Then the first time that they are able to walk into the office, it is so gratifying. It’s nice to see that progression rather than the opposite, which is sometimes what you see in the hospital. We had been doing bariatric surgeries at the hospital for about a year and a half before I came to the office. There’s a very small group of patients that I took care of in the hospital and then turned around and started seeing them at their two week, one month and annual visit. There’s probably about 10 to 15 patients that fit that bill and it’s kind of nice because I have literally seen them through all of it.”
What makes Dr. Robert Williams and the New Life Bariatric program special?
“We’re all very passionate about what we do, and fully believe in the benefits of weight loss surgery. I’m a bariatric surgery patient myself. Dr. Williams did my surgery over three years ago.
We like to see our patients succeed at what they want to succeed at. We are all in this collective effort to make sure that our patients are living and doing what they want to do, that they are living their best life possible. We just have a great compassionate group of people.
Seeing the patient succeed, doing whatever we need to do to help them get there and working with them at their different phases. We work with each patient at their level, with their needs, whether it’s the physical ability or what they like to eat or what they don’t like to eat, we work with everybody at wherever they’re at to get them to where they want to be.”
How’s being a bariatric patient yourself helped?
“You better understand the journey that your patients take.
I was a bariatric nurse for 10-12 years before I had surgery. So I was like, oh, I know what these people are going through and I did know what they went through when they were overweight. I understood all that. I understood what made them come to the decision to pursue surgery.
It’s a surreal feeling when you lose weight and how the world around you seems to change and their attitude towards you seems to change and being in that position yourself is the only way to fully understand it. For instance, I would have patients come in and complain about taking a certain kind of vitamin and I thought nope, that doesn’t happen and then when it happens to you, you’re like, oh yep, now you know exactly what they are talking about. And so you can come to them now with I’ve been there, done that and not every patient needs that but there are some patients that just need to know that we truly understand where they are at. Knowing that you come from that place sometimes helps them a lot. But it also helped me understand more what my patients are talking about.
I think I feel more comfortable and that they feel like I know what I am talking about. I can have more compassion, more understanding and it just gives a whole separate bond to the nurse-patient relationship.”
What would be your advice to someone who has been thinking about bariatric surgery?
“You need to go with what your gut feeling is and you need to make sure you are ready to commit to the changes. I mean, I would go through and I could tell you it was the best decision I made for myself, but it was for me. I think that’s the big thing is you need to be ready to commit if you’re looking at it, and you need to do it for yourself and not anyone else.
You have to look at your commitment level and you need to know this is the right thing for you and if you’re ready and willing to do that, then, by all means, go for it. And I also tell people don’t wait until another five years pass by. I personally had to wait for insurance to cover it. I also remind people that you need to invest in yourself. We have no problems dropping money for cars or vacation and we forget that we are just as worthy to spend money and those things are.
So I guess my biggest advice is if you feel it in your gut that you’re ready then just go for it. And I think the other piece of advice would be to stay away from the people in your life who look at you doing this as a negative thing. You need the greatest amount of positivity as you can get while you’re going through surgery and especially in about the three to six months after it. Surround yourself with those people in your life who are willing to support you in this decision because emotionally you’re going to need that more than anything.”
What else should we know about new life, you, or the process?
“If you need us, all you have to do is reach out. When looking at the decision, you want to make sure you’re comfortable with all parts and all aspects of it. And we have a fully comprehensive program that we can take care of every aspect of patients’ post-operative needs. Bottom line: We are here for our patients.
Great things are coming!. We have a great core group of people here ready and willing to help each person that walks through our doors. I can’t remember the exact number, but somebody added up how much experience we have all added together and it’s over 45 years. We are so excited to share that with all of our patients.
To learn more about weight loss surgery and New Life Center for Bariatric Surgery in Knoxville, watch our online seminar at