Gina's Story - Gastric Bypass
Surgery: Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass - Total Lost: 160 pounds*
"There is so much to say about how the surgery has made me the person I am today." —Gina
Since the surgery and my weight loss, I've noticed little changes in the way people respond to me, like opening a door for me. People wouldn't do something like that before. They would barely acknowledge me, but now they'll open a door or are more willing to do something to help me. Beginning when she was a child, Gina tried everything she could to lose weight. There were the established eating plans and the fad diets. There were supplements and medications, which left her feeling wired and jittery. And though weight would come off, it always returned, with a vengeance, usually adding back more pounds than she had lost in the first place.
The weight affected everything in her life. "I didn't want to go anywhere," Gina says. "The thought of going to the movies was dreadful because I'd worry about having to get there early so I could sit on the edge." Just walking from her car to her work was a chore that left her feeling wrung out. Her blood pressure was getting high, and Gina was fearful of her family history of diabetes. Even sleep was difficult: "I would lay in bed at night and it felt like someone was sitting on my chest and it was hard to breathe."
Perhaps most painful of all was that she felt she didn't want to marry. "I didn't want to look at my wedding pictures and see myself at that weight," she says. "I told my boyfriend that we couldn't get married until I would be happy looking back at myself in the pictures."
Gina decided to undergo bariatric surgery for weight loss at UCLA. After researching online and attending classes to learn more, she had her gastric-bypass surgery, the gold-standard Roux-en-Y procedure, on April 29, 2004. It was, Gina says, "the day that changed my life forever." She credits her surgery and weight loss for the good things that have followed: her marriage, her son, her health "and my happiness."
And the way others relate to her has changed. "Since the surgery and my weight loss, I've noticed little changes in the way people respond to me, like opening a door for me. People wouldn't do something like that before. They would barely acknowledge me, but now they'll open a door or are more willing to do something to help me," she says. Still, it's not easy to maintain, Gina acknowledges. Gastric-bypass surgery is not a magic bullet; it requires a dedication to change old habits and eat properly to maintain the weight loss, and it can be an ongoing struggle. Her commitment wavered as she learned more about the procedure. "Oh, no. No more soda or no more this or no more that? I'm not doing this," she says. But as she continued her education, the clearer it became that this was the right choice for her. "The positive results so outweighed not being able to drink soda or not being able to have candy, it wasn't even an issue by the time I was done with the classes," Gina says.
She continues to educate herself today, several years after surgery, reminding herself of the steps she needs to make to ensure ongoing success. Ultimately, the surgery is just a tool. "The best advice I can give someone who is considering this is to make sure they really understand that they will be making a lifetime commitment to change," Gina says. If they do, "it is well worth it!"