Bariatric Surgery Prepares Leslie Conyers for Spinal Fusion Surgery

April 20, 2022

Leslie Conyers before and after Spinal Fusion Surgery

In 2013, Conyers sustained a herniated disc injury in a car accident. Her recovery was slow, but eventually she returned to work. One day in 2015, while driving to her job, Conyers was struck with severe back pain. It was so bad that she pulled over and called 911. She had X-rays and an MRI, and doctors gave her some grim news – she had spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis and herniated discs.

After this incident, she had trouble doing daily activities as simple as walking, sitting and standing without experiencing unbearable pain, and required a wheelchair to get around. At the time, Conyers was receiving conservative treatment, including physical therapy and medication.

Conyers had two procedures in the years that followed. The first failed completely and the second, in 2018, gave her only six months of relief. “Then the nerve pain started to return more steadily,” she says. “Putting any kind of weight on my legs resulted in horrific pain, so I started using a walker.”

Conyers moved in 2019 and found a new neurosurgeon. “He suggested spinal fusion, but would only do it if I lost weight. All the years of medications and inactivity had resulted in me gaining a lot of weight, and this was impeding any improvement in my back, and it was also putting pressure on the nerves and my spine,” she says. “The doctor recommended weight-loss surgery to lose the weight quickly. At that time, I was 217 pounds and he wanted me down to about 140 pounds.”

The Weight-Loss Journey Begins

Conyers chose to have the weight-loss surgery at Corona Regional Medical Center and met with Bariatric Surgeon Sarvenaz Nouri, MD. “Dr. Nouri understood the need for my surgery and was very thorough, explaining how the gastric sleeve procedure would work and that she would be using the robot, as well,” says Conyers. “I felt very comfortable with her and her understanding of my situation.”

Conyers followed Dr. Nouri’s nutritional plan and worked with dietitians. By April 2021, she was down to 200 pounds and ready for her bariatric surgery. “The surgery was successful and my incisions healed really quickly,” says Conyers. “I had no complications during my stay, and the nurses checked in on me constantly, making sure I was drinking my water every 15 minutes.”

Conyers, who lives 45 minutes away in Hemet, says she had a great patient experience at Corona Regional. “I cannot say enough about the nurses who took care of me. The level of care truly made a difference. They anticipated my needs and I never had to ring for them once,” she says. “And after all the surgeries I’ve had, I was very impressed with Dr. Nouri. She was very interested in my well-being and recovery.”

In the first month post-op, Conyers lost another 20 pounds. “It melted off so quickly and my recovery was very smooth, with minimal pain. I was able to lose enough weight to have my spinal fusion in August 2021, and I can now walk without a walker,” she says. “I still have to do physical therapy and occasionally have some muscle spasms in my back, but I can finally sleep at night. I am now at a healthy weight and, clearly, the weight loss made all the difference in my fusion surgery recovery.”

Dr. Nouri credits Conyers and the da Vinci® surgical system, which she uses for all of her operations, for this success story. “The robotic platform allows for very precise surgeries with great visualization, which can mean less complications, less pain, decreased length of stay, and quicker recovery,” says Dr. Nouri. The weight-loss surgery had a profound effect on her long-term health, and Conyers says she appreciates her renewed ease in doing everyday things.

Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if bariatric or robotic surgery is right for you.

About Dr. Nouri

Sarvenaz Nouri, MD, is a bariatric surgeon who specializes in robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgeries (vertical sleeve gastrectomy, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, bilio-pancreatic diversion with duodenal switch), hiatal hernia repair and foregut surgeries. To schedule an appointment, call 800-882-4362.