Lost 170 Pounds after Gastric Bypass Surgery
In high school in San Diego, 5'2" Andrea weighed 150 pounds and carried most of it from the waist down.
"I knew I'd never be a twig, but I was also not obese, just an Italian-American girl with short arms and legs that I inherited from my father's side of the family."
Her legs were large and strong, so she was good at sports, particularly field hockey and tennis. "I remember laughing about being called Thunder Thighs, but inside it was hard."
Yo-Yo Weight Gain and Loss
Andrea started gaining weight in college. "I met my husband my sophomore year and got engaged in my junior year," she said. "I guess because I felt confident in a relationship, I gained more weight, enough to push me over the line from chubby to obese."
In her senior year, Andrea decided to lose weight before her 1989 wedding. "I'd gained about 50 pounds in college, and I lost most of it but then after the wedding, I started gaining right away." In the 10 years that followed, Andrea put on 125 pounds.
Andrea's Weight Struggle: Low-Carb Diets and Stress
She went on a crash low-carb diet and lost 70 pounds in the summer before her best friend's wedding. A month later, Andrea and her husband moved to Texas.
The move was stressful. "I was in a new city with no friends," she said. "My husband traveled a lot, and I had nothing to do but work and eat. I ate when I was bored, when I was happy, when I was sad. It didn't matter."
Within a year of her move to Texas, Andrea had gained the 70 pounds back. Then at the end of the following year, her father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He died the next year.
The Life-Changing Moment
After 14 years of marriage, Andrea learned she was pregnant.
"Everyone who's had weight-loss surgery talks about the moment that changed their lives," she said. "After a rough pregnancy and the birth of my miracle baby, I gave myself two years to lose the weight. If I couldn't do it on my own, I decided I'd have weight-loss surgery."
After Gastric Bypass Surgery
"My insurance company had approved me for gastric banding, but at the last moment they wouldn't approve the surgery center I'd chosen," Andrea says.
A friend referred her to a surgeon in Houston who had elected not to renew his contract with her insurance provider. "He was very blunt with me. He said, 'I'm not going to be the one doing your surgery, but you need to know that gastric banding is not going to get you where you want to be. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass will, and you need to talk with Erik Wilson.'"
A resident of The Woodlands, Andrea would have preferred to have the surgery performed closer to home.
"I didn't want to have to drive to the medical center but I was familiar with Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center's reputation."
As an automobile claims adjuster, she'd spoken with many former trauma patients who'd received excellent care at the hospital. "Plus, I knew they were a bariatric center of excellence. I thought, why wouldn't I want to go to a top-rated hospital?"
Weight Loss of 170 Pounds
The rest is history. Andrea's official weight prior to her surgery was 357. She has now lost 170 pounds.
"Today, I'm down more than 170 pounds to 182, and I feel better than I have in 20 years. I want people to know that there's hope."
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