An obese man who tipped the scales at 687lbs (49st 1lb) lost almost half his body weight in a year.
Justin McSwain, 28, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, has struggled with food since he was a child when his mother Tara – who was addicted to painkillers and heroin – drifted in and out of his life.
Deciding enough was enough, the web developer met with Dr Younan Nowzaradan – star of the hit TLC reality show My 600lb Life – who put him on a 1,200 calorie-a-day diet.
After shedding 92lbs (6st 8lbs) in just two months, Mr McSwain became eligible for weight-loss surgery.
A year on Mr McSwain lost an impressive 334lbs (23st 12lbs) and now weighs a much healthier 354lbs (25st 4lbs). He celebrated with his father Johnny by getting a tattoo of a phoenix rising from the state of Texas.
Justin McSwain tipped the scales at 687lbs (49st 1lb). The web developer had a difficult childhood and a strained relationship with his mother, which led to him turning to food for comfort. His obese frame severely affected his confidence, with him developing agrophobia
Deciding enough was enough, Mr McSwain visited Dr Younan Nowzaradan – star of the hit TLC reality show My 600lb Life. The medic put him on a 1,200 calorie-a-day diet, until he was slim enough for weight-loss surgery. He lost 334lbs (23st 12lbs) and now weighs 354lbs (25st 4lbs)
To celebrate, Mr McSwain got a tattoo of a phoenix rising from the state of Texas (pictured)
Mr McSwain tipped the scales at 200lbs (14st 4lbs) at just 14 years old, with his weight creeping up to 330lbs (23st 8lbs) by the time he was 18.
His heavy frame battered his confidence, with Mr McSwain being diagnosed with agoraphobia and only leaving the house to buy food.
‘When I wake up in the mornings, I’m in disbelief about how bad I’ve let things get because of how out of control my weight’s gotten,’ he said.
Struggling to stand, walk and even breathe, Mr McSwain decided to take control of his health and traveled with his mother to met Dr Nowzaradan in Houston.
But the journey was off to a rocky start when Mr McSwain was too big to fit in the car he rented to drive across to Texas.
WHAT IS A LAPAROSCOPIC GASTRIC BYPASS?
A laparoscopic gastric bypass, or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB), is considered the ‘gold standard’ for weight-loss surgery.
It involves creating a small pouch in the stomach that restricts food intake and reduces nutrient absorption.
The pouch also limits food from coming into contact with the upper or lower intestine, further preventing absorption.
The operation involves five-to-six incisions in the abdomen.
Surgeons then staple the top portion of the stomach to separate it from the bottom, creating a pouch.
A small section of the small intestine is then attached to the pouch, allowing food to bypass to the lower stomach.
- One year after surgery, people lose on average 77 percent of their body weight
- After 10 to 14 years, between 50 and 60 percent of this weight loss is maintained
- Around 96 percent of health complications, including back pain and type 2 diabetes, are resolved
- People may suffer iron deficiency anemia due to insufficient nutrient absorption
- The procedure can lose effectiveness if the pouch is stretched
- ‘Dumping syndrome’ can occur due to the rapid emptying of stomach contents into the small intestine. This can cause weakness and abdominal discomfort
Source: University of California San Francisco, Bariatric Surgery Center
Once he met with Dr Nowzaradan, Mr McSwain was shocked to discover how heavy he really was.
‘I knew I was likely in the 600s, but I thought it was the low 600s,’ he said.
‘Getting help is even more urgent than I thought and it makes me worry there’s a greater chance [Dr Nowzaradan] may say he can’t help me since I’m so big.’
Luckily, Dr Nowzaradan was able to help, but Mr McSwain needed to lose some weight before he could go under the knife.
With the restricted-calorie diet working, Mr McSwain was soon ready to travel to Houston for the surgery, with his mother also agreeing to go to help his recovery.
But she pulled out at the last minute, with Mr McSwain’s father – who divorced Tara when their son was five – stepping in.
At the time of the surgery, Mr McSwain was already down to 508lbs (36st 4lbs).
After the operation, he saw a therapist to help him deal with his food issues, as well as his strained relationship with his mother.
Mr McSwain claims his mother became addicted to painkillers – which led to her heroin dependency – after hurting her back.
Although Johnny got full custody of Mr McSwain, he felt he never really fit in with his father’s new family.
Mr McSwain even accused his stepmother of locking food away and only portioning out what she thought he needed.
Tara came back into Johnny’s life when he was ten and would often take him out to eat. When she relapsed when he was 11, Mr McSwain comforted himself with food.
With his weight-loss surgery a success, Mr McSwain – who now lives in Houston – has been offered a skin-removal operation.
Dr Nowzaradan even called him one of his ‘most hardworking’ patients ever.
Mr McSwain is now living life to full, having fulfilled a life-long dream of getting in a flight simulator and him even hoping to get a pilot’s license.