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Patient Weight Loss Stories

Read our patient stories and learn about the non-surgical and surgical weight loss options.

Note: These patients' treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.

Debbie Stine

Debbie Stine is a woman on the go, traveling around the world as a consultant and policy analyst on issues involving science and technology. But with increasing health issues and her weight topping 300 pounds, the going got tougher and tougher. When her daughter went off to college, she decided to focus on herself. A year after turning to the UPMC Comprehensive Weight Loss program for help, she’s lost nearly 100 pounds and is enjoying a healthier, more active life. Read Debbie’s diet weight loss story.

Debbie Stein's weight loss journey.

Deanna Ulrich

At the age of 47, Deanna Ulrich was tired and lacked energy. Putting on weight ever since she had kids, she knew it was time for a big change. Since undergoing a gastric sleeve procedure at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital Minimally Invasive Bariatric and General Surgery Program in October 2015. Deanna has since gone on to lose 100 pounds and run the Pittsburgh Marathon and she does not plan on stopping anytime soon! Read Deanna's gastric sleeve surgery story.

Deanna Ulrich

Vickie and Linda Newark

Just two years after Vickie Newark had her gastric bypass surgery, her wife, Linda followed her decision and underwent her own gastric bypass procedure. Both Linda and Vickie had struggled with unhealthy relationships to food for a long time. Luckily, with the expertise of Giselle Hamad, MD, a surgeon at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, the pair is now living healthily at their goal weights. Read Vickie and Linda's gastric bypass story.

Vicky and Linda Newark before after

Jacy Fricke

Jacy Fricke will never forget the day she made the life-changing decision to have bariatric surgery. It was Jan. 18, 2017 and she weighed nearly 480 pounds. “I literally woke up that morning and said to myself, ‘I just can’t continue like this,’” she says. Read Jacy's gastric sleeve surgery story.

Jacy Frick Bariatric Services Patient Story | UPMC

Ken Schnur

For Ken Schnur, a married father of two from Munhall, choosing to have gastric bypass surgery at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital was a life-changing — probably life-saving — decision. His job as an emergency dispatcher, which involved shift work and long hours sitting behind a desk taking calls, had taken its toll. “I put on a bunch of weight,” he admits. Read Ken's gastric bypass surgery story.

Ken Schnur Bariatric Services Patient Story | UPMC

Nicole Seal

Weight was never a big deal to Nicole Seal, a Monongahela native. At 5 feet, 7 inches, she was accustomed to the scale hovering between 215 and 230 pounds. “I was never skinny, but I was ok with that,” she says. Then, at age 25 she took a job in a personal care home working odd hours and night shifts. The weight started piling on. Read Nicole's gastric bypass surgery story.

Nicole Seal Before and After Weight Loss Image

Jake Smith

As a child, Jake Smith was always the biggest kid in class. In grade school he had to kneel for soccer photos to match his teammates in height. Despite his husky build, he was active throughout high school, playing sports, hunting, and fishing. By senior year he no longer was the tallest, but he was the heaviest as his weight edged up to 280 pounds. Read Jake's gastric sleeve surgery story.

Jake Smith Before and After Surgery Image

Wendy Gibson

Wendy Gibson is a driven woman, focused on achieving a singular goal: her good health. Since November 2017, with guidance and support from the UPMC Comprehensive Weight Loss Program she has changed her lifestyle and dropped nearly 100 pounds. That’s in addition to the 100 pounds she previously lost with the help of a nutritionist recommended by her family doctor — for a total weight loss to date of almost 200 pounds. Read Wendy's Diet Weight Loss Story


Tonya Lightcap

Tonya Lightcap was 38 years old when she made a life-changing decision. The mother of two young boys was 100 pounds overweight and facing increasing health issues, including high blood pressure and a fatty liver. Constantly tired and out of breath, she knew something had to change. “I wanted to be healthier for my kids,” says Tonya. “I was worried about my future.”

Since undergoing gastric sleeve surgery in October 2016, she has lost 90 pounds, dropped from a size 18 to a 6, and seen her blood pressure dip to a healthy 90/60. “Best decision I’ve ever made!” says Tonya, a sonographer specialist in the ultrasound department at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. Read Tonya's gastric sleeve surgery story.

Tonya Lightcap Patient Story

Judy Grimm

At age 56, Judy Grimm’s health was spiraling out of control. Her weight, which had seesawed up and down for years, had started piling on along with increasing medical issues: high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and rising blood sugar levels.

When her doctor told her she was becoming pre-diabetic and probably wouldn’t live to see her grandchildren get married, she decided to take action. After undergoing gastric sleeve surgery in December 2014, she lost 95 pounds, dropped from a size 24 to a 12, and eliminated her medications and CPAP machine. “It changed my life,” says Judy. Read Judy's gastric sleeve surgery story.

Kevin Gutknecht

Kevin Gutknecht was in his 20s, stood 5’6”, and already was seriously overweight when his mother died suddenly at age 52. He soon started having medical problems. Diagnosed with diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, Kevin was taking a handful of pills every day. “I just decided that I didn’t want to live this way,” he explains.

After losing 52 pounds, Kevin had gastric sleeve surgery at UPMC Hamot in September 2015. Now 163 pounds, he recently competed in his first Brazilian jiu jitsu tournament. “I tried doing jiu jitsu years ago, but my gut was too big. Now I can do everything.” Read Kevin's gastric sleeve surgery story.

Ed Pikna

At age 49, Ed Pikna weighed 476 pounds. Once a three-sport athlete and outdoorsman, he couldn’t walk to the mailbox without “huffing and puffing.” He had a leg infection that wouldn’t heal and everything hurt — his knees, ankles, and back.

Realizing that “enough was enough,” Ed decided to have gastric bypass surgery in 2015. He lost 100 pounds prior to surgery and another 120 following the procedure. “I’m a new man,” says the high school special education teacher and track coach. Read Ed's gastric bypass surgery story.

Debbie Weismiller

As a cardiac nurse, Debbie Weismiller instantly knew something was wrong when she saw her EKG. With her family history of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke — plus a diagnosis of an enlarged heart, soaring blood pressure and borderline diabetes — she desperately needed to lose weight.

In February 2015 at age 58, she underwent gastric sleeve surgery. Over the next year, she lost 100 pounds, went from wearing size 3X to a large, and wore a dress for the first time in nearly 20 years. “I gained my life back,” says Debbie. Read Debbie's gastric sleeve surgery story.

Dann Brown

At age 55, Dann was taking more than 20 pills a day to manage high cholesterol, high blood sugar, depression, sleep apnea, and joint pain. But it wasn’t until his doctor recommended adding insulin that he decided to do something drastic about his weight.

The college communication professor lost 40 pounds before his gastric sleeve surgery in July 2015. Since then, he’s lost another 57 pounds and eliminated all his medicines. “Diabetes isn’t something I have to worry about now,” says Dann. Read Dann's gastric sleeve surgery story.

Adam Ferris

In high school, Adam Ferris played football until a serious leg injury ended his playing career and upended his life. Unable to walk unassisted for 6 months, Adam says that’s when the serious weight gain started. By age 24, he weighed 440 pounds.

After Adam recovered from the injury, the additional weight made day-to-day activities such as walking and shoveling snow more difficult. Once he decided that something had to change, Adam underwent gastric bypass surgery. Read Adam's gastric bypass surgery story.

Melissa Silvis

At 513 pounds, Melissa Silvis tried to avoid interaction with people, but after watching a friend's success with gastric bypass surgery, she became motivated to find out about surgical weight loss options.

Within a year after her surgery, Melissa lost nearly 230 pounds, and also found out that she had another exciting change not even related to her bariatric surgery. Read Melissa's gastric bypass surgery story.

Gastric Bypass Story | Melissa Silvis

Richard and Diane Suriano

Diane Suriano was desperate and felt that bariatric surgery was her only option. She underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2011. Since then, she's lost 135 pounds.

Inspired by her dramatic turnaround, Diane's husband Richard decided to have the same procedure. He's lost 100 pounds and can fit into jeans that have been hanging in his closet for 20 years. Read the Suriano's gastric bypass surgery story.

Gastric bypass story | The Suriano's

Rich Petarca

Rich Petarca felt that he was fighting a losing battle with obesity. His weight tended to go through “seesaw” patterns, reaching 427 pounds at one point.

After doing some research, he decided to have gastric bypass surgery, losing 232 pounds and finally winning his weight loss battle. Read Rich's gastric bypass surgery story.

Gastric bypass story | Rich Petarca

Rita Booth

When Rita Booth's weight began affecting her work and health, she started researching bariatric surgery. She found UPMC's George Eid, MD, and had gastric bypass surgery.

Since then, she has donated over 150 pounds of dog food — for every pound she's lost — to her local humane society in Dr. Eid’s name. Read Rita's gastric bypass surgery story.

Gastric bypass story | Rita Booth

Lynn Oslosky

Lynn Oslosky was petite most of her life until she gave birth and had a hysterectomy. Unable to lose the 75 pounds she gained, she was more concerned with her rising blood pressure and blood sugar.

Gastric bypass surgery helped Lynn lose the extra weight and find a new way to make healthy choices. Read Lynn's gastric bypass surgery story.

Gastric bypass story | Lynn Oslosky

Robert Dunkerley

At 360 pounds, Robert Dunkerley's weight was affecting his health. After spending 40 days in a coma, and almost a year in the hospital, Robert made a choice that would change his life.

He underwent gastric bypass surgery and, just six months later, ran a 5K race. Read Robert's gastric bypass surgery story.

Gastric bypass story | Robert Dunkerley

Carol Mineo

After a foot surgery left her unable to exercise, Carol Mineo tried several commercial diet programs to lose weight without long term success.

After hearing the success stories of colleagues who had undergone the procedure and learning about the many health benefits, Carol scheduled her own gastric bypass surgery. Today, she has more energy, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and feels like she is back in her twenties. Read Carol's gastric bypass surgery story.

Gastric bypass story | Carol Mineo

Ricarda Lavelle

When Ricarda's weight began to affect her health and overall quality of life, her primary care physician suggested that she consider bariatric surgery.

Since her gastric bypass surgery, Ricarda breathes easier, has more energy, and has even been able to better manage her diabetes with a decreased insulin dosage. Read Ricarda's gastric bypass surgery story.