Surgical Specialists of Washington Township



The biggest  “wow” moment after surgery happened one day after walking, I was standing at my dining room window and realized as I stood there, that I didn’t hurt anymore. I had no aches, pains, headaches, or even joint pains. At that moment, I actually realized how good I felt. 
I even shifted my weight and moved around a bit just to see if my pain would  result as it did in the past and it did not. “I really felt so good that at that  moment,   I broke down and cried. .” I started calling people to tell them that I felt so good!   My  second wow moment was being able to sit in an airplane and actually see the seat and   not need a belt extender. Bariatric surgery has extended my life. I know tomorrow is never   promised but I know that I will get to live longer since I am so much healthier now. My  biggest regret is not having done the surgery sooner. This is a tool I was given, It has given me anice jump start to change my lifestyle and to prioritize the importance of a good quality of life. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this surgery to enjoy my family and life. The surgery addressed many of my health problems. For instance, I came off of 7 shots of insulin a day. I also reduce my medications from twelve prescriptions to three. I use to have bad skin breakouts which I don’t get anymore. My eye sight has even improved. I avoided knee replacement surgery. I am off of all pain medications. My indigestion is gone. The swelling of my joints are gone.  I actually exercise now and enjoy it. I routinely do Tai Chi and aerobic exercises. I like shopping! Shopping is wonderful now. I went from a  size 26 pants to a size 8.  I have kept one pair of pants from my ‘old’ life as a reminder of from where I came. Finally, I want to say how great Dr. Balsama is. I have found him to be honest. He answered all of my questions thoroughly. I did my research before choosing him as my surgeon. He has a good success rate. He definitely lived up, met and exceeded  my expectations. I would always recommend Dr. Balsama as a bariatric surgeon.

                                                          Dr. Balsama has always been understanding of the after effects of the surgery.

He has alwasys been there to help me in my journey and not just on the medical side of things but from a very Holistic approach. People are not looking at me anymore as  the BIG GUY" after meeting new people and telling them about my journey, I totally enjoy their disbelief.  Since  surgery, I feel  better; I  look better; I sleep better. I do more than I've been able to do and I enjoy life to a much fuller extent.Chris-after.jpg

My Stats
Lap-band surgery
Kennedy Hosiptal
September 27, 2009
Lost 90 pounds


On April 1st, 2008, my eight-year struggle for my health became realized: I underwent laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery performed by Dr. Balsama. The four years that have come and gone since can easily be described as the best years of my life.

At my heaviest, I weighed over 300lbs.  I had trouble recognizing myself in pictures and I changed my behavior because of the way I looked; I was censoring myself to be less noticed, allowing what I looked like on the outside to change who I was on the inside.  That's when I made the decision that changed my life - a bariatric surgery patient quite literally risks his or her life in order to save it.  Success takes the work of an excellent bariatric team (led by Dr. Balsama - a surgeon I cannot recommend more highly), a strong support system, a LOT of hard work, and – most of all – the mental determination to change your life. My preparation included several sessions with a nutritionist and attending monthly support group meetings, both of which helped me understand the changes I would need to make in order to be successful.  More than just changing my diet and exercise routine, I have completely changed how I think about food, fitness, health, and myself. The surgery itself went very smoothly. Adjusting to my new nutritional needs was surprisingly easy, and as soon as I was cleared for physical activity, I was on a treadmill building my stamina.  And the physical results are remarkable - far beyond my wildest expectations.  The morning of the surgery, I weighed 268lbs and my BMI was 42, categorically ‘morbidly obese’.  Today I weigh a very healthy 142lb for my 5’7” frame, and my BMI is 22.2 – ‘normal weight’.  In 18 months I went from a size 26 to a size 4, something I’ve successfully maintained ever since. I remain committed to my healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly, running several times a week, and embracing healthy eating by cooking for myself.  

 Even though my life has changed in almost every way possible since (and in many ways because of) my surgery, I feel - for the first time  in  my life –   truly comfortable in my own skin.  This kind of change will not happen overnight, will not be easy, and will require complete            dedication, but it is POSSIBLE and WORTH IT – especially with the guidance and skill of Dr. Balsama.  
  And if you still are not sure if weight loss surgery is right for you, just remember the famous Marianne Williamson quote: “We ask
  ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous?’  Actually, who are you not to be?”



Dr. Balsama is a great Doctor who really listens to my concerns and answers my questions so I can understand. . He made my decision to have the surgery by being there for  me every step of the way on this great journey.  Three years laterI still see Dr. Balsama at support meetings and he still continues to take my questions.  He is very accessible and was able to make me feel very comfortable. His surgery was like magic to me he gave me a great tool to use to lose the weight and indeed I did! His
staff is over the top could not be more helpful,  from the girls in the office making appointments to Kathy who helps you get to surgery and beyond. The hospital staff everyone involved was very helpful and caring and made me feel great. The best is the support group at WashingtonTownship. I have attended since I was a week out from surgery. I have gotten very much needed information from the doctors, nurses,  nutritionist, and many patients who attend.  I met very special friends. They are my sleeve sisters which have made this journey so much better and easier. And I truly believe without them I leah-after-(5).jpgwould not have been so successful. My WOW moment is I was wheeled into surgery weighing 315 lbs and  a year later I was down 145 lbs.  At three years later I am still  at the same weight with no weight regain. This is like a miracle to me .  I have severalstories that I can share but my favorite ones are those enjoying my six grandchildren, I know have the ability to go on  rides with them, rather than waving to them from a bench because I can’t fit in the ride.  September 2013, I was in a fashion show at the Deptford Mall forDr. Balsama sponsored by Kennedy hospital. The experience showed the new found confidence since my weight loss. I would have never done the show at 315 lbs. My latest WOW moment is that my daughter had the sleeve  1- 29-14 and is already 50 lbs down yeah! Thanks to Dr Balsama! I have thanked Dr. Balsama many times for saving my life. Pre-surgery with very high blood pressure and ready to take insulin. It was difficult for me to  breathe and walk together it was hard. 
 I was contemplating getting a scooter to help me get around. My life now is wonderful now in every way. I feel great and love life! The surgery is a tool and I have committed to using it to the fullest. Failure is not in my vocabulary. It was rough in the beginning, but worth every minute. This gastric sleeve surgery was the best decision I ever made. Thank You Dr. Balsama for preforming your magic and changing my life for the better.  Every day I notice something great that this surgery has done for me!