Ricarda Lavelle: Gastric Bypass Surgery

Ricarda started to struggle with her weight after she turned 50. Her weight started to creep up at that time but then the onset of thyroid problems made matters worse. She tried changing her diet and had always exercised but nothing seemed to work. Her medical problems worsened, she developed diabetes, and was often short of breath when going up steps. Once she hit a size 20, she was tired of being heavy.

Her primary care physician suggested that she consider bariatric surgery and referred her to Dr. Anita Courcoulas. Since Ricarda lives about 30 miles outside of Pittsburgh, she decided to undergo the insurance required, physician supervised diet with her primary care physician.

In January 2013, Ricarda underwent a gastric bypass procedure at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. Since then, she has lost 115 pounds and went from a size 24 to a 12. Her breathing improved and she feels better overall. She has since been taken off of her oral diabetes medicine and her insulin dosage was decreased. In addition, her energy level has increased and she can “go all day” when it comes to work, shopping, or running errands. She states that everyone is amazed at how great she looks now.

Her tips for success include:

  • Take your meals on a small (dessert-sized) plate
  • Surround yourself with supportive friends/family
  • Make exercise a part of your routine

She offers the following advice for people considering weight loss surgery:

“Your life is worth it. Every time I look in the mirror, I get a smile on my face. You, too, can learn to love yourself again.”

Note: This patient's treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.

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