NEWS | January 25, 2013

Biggest weight losers don stylish clothing after doffing pounds

Former bariatric surgery patients take turns on fashion show runway


When it comes to weight-loss surgery, Rafael Torres is happy to be a role model for others, even when it means becoming a model for the latest in fashion. The 41-year old Sacramento resident plans to proudly show off his new, healthy physique at UC Davis Medical Center’s 10th annual bariatric fashion show.

The event takes place Friday, Jan. 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the auditorium of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, 4501 X Street, in Sacramento.

The occasion celebrates weight-loss surgery success stories and this year features more than two dozen former patients — men and women — who will model clothing for business, leisure and formal occasions. The medical center’s bariatric surgery staff established the stylish extravaganza as a fun way for patients to share their stories of weight-loss achievements and try on clothing they never could have considered before surgery.

This year’s contingent of 14 bariatric surgery models has lost a total of nearly a ton. Torres, a sales representative for an energy savings assistance program, at one time weighed 470 pounds. Over the past year, he has lost approximately 250 pounds after undergoing surgery at the medical center.

“It’s been a total change in my life,” said Torres, who now runs two miles a day and regularly does weight training. “It’s not just a physical change, it’s a mental and spiritual change, too.”

Bariatrics is the branch of medicine specializing in the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity. Bariatric surgery is usually reserved for people who have been unsuccessful in other weight-loss programs and are at least 100 pounds overweight. Studies have shown that the procedure provides much more than a cosmetic benefit. It can reduce major health risks such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 78 million adults and about 12.5 million children and adolescents around the country are obese, which is defined as having too much body fat, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher in an adult. In 2009, a study published by the journal Health Affairs estimated the medical costs associated with obesity were $147 billion per year.

Gastric bypass — also known as Roux-en-Y — has become the most common form of weight-reduction surgery in the United States. It involves creating a stomach pouch out of a small portion of the stomach and attaching it directly to the small intestine to limit the amount of food that can be eaten or absorbed. In December 2011, Torres underwent the procedure, enabling him to achieve a much healthier life.

“My diabetes disappeared within one month after surgery,” said Torres, whose successful weight loss and renewed vigor inspired several of his neighbors to also undergo the procedure. “I now have more energy than I’ve ever had in my life. I thought it would be a big struggle to eat right, but it’s been great.”

UC Davis surgeons Mohamed Ali and Jonathan Pierce lead the UC Davis team that has performed nearly 2,500 bariatric procedures over the past decade. The medical center program has earned Center of Excellence designation from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery for its comprehensive, high-quality care and successful patient outcomes.

Local sponsors loaning the latest in fashion or contributing styling and make-up expertise include the Men’s Wearhouse, Kohl’s, Blossom Salon and Gigi Hill. The event also serves as a fundraiser for the UC Davis Bariatric Surgery Program, which hosts special obesity education and weight management classes, in addition to offering several different surgical options for weight loss.

UC Davis Medical Center is a comprehensive academic medical center where clinical practice, teaching and research converge to advance human health. Centers of excellence include the National Cancer Institute-designated UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center; the region's only Level 1 pediatric and adult trauma centers; the UC Davis MIND Institute, devoted to finding treatments and cures for neurodevelopmental disorders; and the UC Davis Children's Hospital. The medical center serves a 33-county, 65,000-square-mile area that stretches north to the Oregon border and east to Nevada. It further extends its reach through the award-winning telemedicine program, which gives remote, medically underserved communities throughout California unprecedented access to specialty and subspecialty care. For more information, visit


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