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‘Gastric banding allowed me to finally take control of my health’

Cathie Kukec has struggled with being overweight her entire life. But undergoing a minimally invasive weight-loss operation at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital has given the 51-year-old Darien resident a chance to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In five months, she’s dropped 45 pounds and counting. She hopes not to reach a specific weight, but rather to be healthier and more active.


“As a type 2 diabetic, my ultimate goal is to get off my medication,” Kukec said.


Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) is an outpatient procedure that involves the placement of a silicone ring around the stomach, which regulates its filling capacity by causing the food to enter more slowly, thereby reducing the patient’s hunger for a longer period of time. The band can be adjusted during future visits to a doctor’s office or when patients feel comfortable with the amount of weight they have lost.

The surgery is performed with a video-enabled laparoscope, allowing surgeons an inside view of the body through incisions colloquially called buttonholes. It is done with general anesthesia, takes about an hour and carries a lower risk of complications compared to traditional weight-loss operations.

“It felt great to go home so soon after the surgery,” said Kukec, who works as a certified breast patient navigator at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital and is a breast cancer survivor. “I had minimal discomfort and was happy to have life go back to normal so soon afterwards.”


Patients begin to see results from the procedure fairly quickly. Kukec, who was treated by Dr. Vafa Shayani in June, said she noticed a change immediately.


“Since the surgery I have noticed a definite increase in energy,” Kukec added. “It was incredible to see how my appetite was altered.”


Morbidly obese patients consume about 3,500 calories a day, but burn less than 2,000 calories which makes it impossible to lose weight, explained Shayani, medical director of Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital’s bariatric program. Gastric banding will predictably help them reduce their caloric intake to around 1,200 calories a day. 


“You will actually feel full and walk away from food,” Shayani said.

For Kukec, the procedure is “nothing short of a miracle.” She recommends it to anyone who qualifies; it is designed for morbidly obese patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 kg/m2 or greater.

“After years of battling my weight, gastric banding allowed me to finally take control of my health,” she said.


The hospital also offers a free monthly support group for bariatric patients, regardless of where they had their initial operation. The group meets at the hospital, 500 Remington Boulevard, and is led by bariatric coordinator Karen Curtin, RN. Topics covered include weight-loss management and recipe planning. To register or for more information, call (630) 312-BAND (2263), visit or e-mail