After losing 100 pounds, weight loss surgery changes mom’s outlook, health
The joy of having a child can't help but motivate many parents to re-evaluate their lifestyles and goals. Hampton resident Sara Waters is no exception.
After Sara, 38, and her husband, Travis, had their daughter, Olivia, four years ago, Sara wanted to find a way to be healthier and lose weight. She'd struggled for years with her weight going up and down with different diets but never staying where she wanted it.
The extra weight made it difficult to keep up with Olivia, and Sara took seven medications for high blood pressure and diabetes.
"I didn't like how much I weighed," says Sara, who reached her highest weight of 280 during her pregnancy. "I wanted to have family pictures with my daughter, but I felt self-conscious about how much I weighed. I wanted to get healthier so I could always be there for her."
At the time, Sara took seven different medications for diabetes and high blood pressure. She was on her feet a lot as an ultrasound tech, and her knees and back often ached.
Weight Loss Surgery Solutions
In 2018, Sara decided it was time for a new weight loss strategy, so she called Sentara Weight Loss Surgery at Sentara CarePlex Hospital and met Dr. Thomas Clark, MD, bariatric program medical director.
Sara learned more about bariatric surgery options and decided that the gastric sleeve was the right choice for her. During the procedure, Dr. Clark removes about 75% of the stomach, including the section that produces the hormone ghrelin, which causes feelings of hunger. The remaining "sleeve" of the stomach is about the size and shape of a medium banana.
Sara's surgery was set for Aug. 13, 2018, at Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton. She weighed 240 pounds. Her recovery went smoothly, and Sara spent the first month after surgery on the required liquid diet so her stomach could adjust to its new size.
"I didn't feel hungry for the first three or four-month after surgery," Sara recalls. "I would look at food and think I should probably eat, but I didn't feel hungry."
More Active, More Fit
Sara lost weight steadily for the first 10 months. She weights 160 now – more than 120 pounds less than her heaviest weight. She's off all her medications except for her thyroid and is diligent abut a healthy diet and exercise.
An avid sports fan, Sara enjoys bicycling and using the elliptical machine. She also shoots for 10,000 steps a day. Sara's grateful to her husband and her extended family in Wisconsin for their support over the past year.
"I couldn't have done it without them," she says.
Because of her weight loss, Sara's been able to fill her closet with a whole new wardrobe. Shopping in a new section of the clothing store was an emotional experience.
"I felt so weird going into the section with regular sizes," Sara says. "I tried on a small top, and it fit. I was almost in tears."
The best part is that Sara can easily play and run around with her daughter Olivia. She's no longer out of breath or in pain.
"Now I'm happy to be in pictures," Sara says. "Sometimes, when I see pictures of myself, I think, 'Who is that?' Then I remember, 'Oh, it's me!'"