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Cherie’s Story: Gastric Bypass Surgery to Overcome Infertility

Evans-Before

When Cherie Evans’ doctor told her that her excess weight was likely preventing her from becoming pregnant, Evans knew the time had come to shed the extra pounds she’d been carrying since high school.

Evans, 29, has battled infertility since 2011, when she suffered a miscarriage. “My doctor said without losing weight, my percentage of ever getting pregnant was less than 20 percent,” says Evans. “That’s when I finally decided to take action.”

While infertility was her main reason for deciding to lose weight, it wasn’t her only reason. “I could barely get up the stairs to walk up to my floor without getting winded. I had been diagnosed with a fatty liver, and I had really bad heartburn,” she says. “Plus, diabetes runs in my family, so I wanted to get ahead of that.”

“Just get over your fears and do it.”

Evans had been considering bariatric surgery for weight loss for years but was afraid. “My cousin finally sat me down and said, ‘You’ve been talking about this forever. Just get over your fears and do it.’ I made my appointment the next day,” says Evans.

Through her online research, Evans found bariatric surgeon Melissa Felinski, DO, who is affiliated with New Start at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital, a Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) Center fully accredited by the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

“When I watched the video of Dr. Felinski on the Memorial Hermann website, I knew immediately she was a person you could really talk to,” says Evans. “When I walked into her office for my initial consultation, she was amazing and really put my mind at ease. If I could have had the surgery that next day, I would have.”

“They are much more fertile after surgery.”

During the initial consultation, Dr. Felinski discussed Evans’ goals, including her desire to become pregnant. “A lot of my female patients come in for infertility,” says Dr. Felinski. “Their excess weight interferes with their menstrual cycles and their ability to ovulate. They are much more fertile after surgery.”

Dr. Felinski recommended Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery for Evans, which, she explained, would help Evans rapidly lose weight — increasing her chances of becoming pregnant — alleviate her heartburn, and reduce or eliminate her chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Minimally Invasive Gastric Bypass Surgery

As Dr. Felinski explains, “Gastric bypass surgery is performed laparoscopically via small incisions through which the surgeon uses specialized instruments and a tiny camera. The surgeon creates a small stomach pouch then attaches a section of the small intestine directly to the pouch. This allows food to bypass most of the stomach and the first section of small intestine, which decreases the number of calories absorbed. The rerouting of the food stream also produces changes in gut hormones that promote satiety and suppress hunger.”

To prepare for her surgery, Evans began exercising and working with a dietitian to learn about foods and how to improve her eating habits. In the process, she lost 26 pounds.

Evans-Dr-Felinski

Successful Surgery at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land

In August of 2018, Dr. Felinski and her team performed the surgery at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital. Within three hours of her surgery, Evans was up and walking. The next day, she was discharged home. After two weeks, she was back at work.

The Memorial Hermann NewStart team supports patients well beyond surgery. “I develop ongoing partnerships with my bariatric patients,” says Dr. Felinski. “Early on, I tell them, ‘We’re going to become friends. You’re going to see me probably way more than you’d like to.’ But obesity is a chronic progressive disease. We have to make sure we are keeping that disease at bay. We see patients regularly during the first year after surgery, and we try to see them at least once a year after that.”

83 Pounds Lighter and Heartburn-Free

Evans-After

In the nine months since her surgery, Evans has lost 83 pounds and feels great. “My heartburn is gone. I work out five times a week. I am reexploring food, trying new recipes. And I’m running 5Ks in less than an hour,” she says.

In August 2019, she hopes to be released to resume fertility treatments. As Dr. Felinski explains, “After their surgeries, these women feel so much better. They’re ready to go. But we ask them to wait 12 to 18 months after surgery to start trying to get pregnant because during their rapid weight loss they can experience vitamin and mineral deficiencies. We want them to be completely healthy during pregnancy.”

“My only regret — I should have done it sooner.”

Evans says she would recommend Dr. Felinski and gastric bypass surgery at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital to anyone struggling to lose significant weight. “I tell people you can get your life back — take control of your life. And you’ll have so much more energy. I just wish I had done it sooner.”