Published on March 27, 2018

A new body, a new life

Bariatric surgery helped transform Gina Wilson physically and emotionally.

Gina after surgeryThere are no more plus-size dresses in Gina Wilson’s closet. She now wears a size 6. And she smiles when she steps on the scale, thanks to the bariatric surgery she had at Nazareth Hospital more than a year ago. She knows the date by heart: Nov. 28, 2016—it’s that important to her.

Gina’s nearly 80 pounds lighter than her pre-surgery weight of 226 pounds. “Food no longer controls me,” she says.

That’s a huge change for Gina, 51, who’s struggled with extra pounds since the first grade. “I was always the chubbiest girl in the class,” she says.

Still, she wasn’t teased. “I had lots of friends—I was bubbly, gregarious and open,” Gina recalls. “But I think that was a cover to mask how sad I was at being heavy.”

Today, Gina considers herself a transformed person—and not just physically. Here’s a look at how her surgery has changed her life.

A turning point

For almost as long as she can remember, Gina dieted. “I can’t count the number of diets I tried,” she says. “I even fasted and took any kind of herbal supplement that promised I could lose 10 pounds in five days.”

Nothing worked. She lost weight repeatedly, only to regain more. And as the pounds crept up, her blood pressure climbed and could only be controlled with daily medicine. Her cholesterol was also borderline high.

Her 50th birthday was a turning point. She had considered bariatric surgery previously. In fact her doctor, concerned about her health, had urged her to explore surgery. Now she was ready.

But it wasn’t her appearance—as self-conscious as she was—that finally led her to bariatric surgery. “I wanted to get healthy,” says Gina, the mother of a 14-year-old son and caretaker for her mother, who has lupus. “I wanted to be able to walk up and down stairs without struggling to breathe and to always be there for the two people I love most.”

The best possible decision

Gina before surgeryAnd so Gina turned to the weight-loss surgery program at Nazareth. Abhiman B. Cheeyandira, MD, FACS, a bariatric surgeon at Nazareth, answered every question she had about the pros and cons of surgery and which kind of surgery was the best choice for her.

“He was so knowledgeable and just what I needed—a smart, skilled doctor with experience who’s also caring,” Gina says. “He gave me his card with his phone number and said ‘Call me anytime you have a question.’ I’ve never had a doctor that available.”

In the end, Gina was most comfortable with sleeve gastrectomy surgery, which Dr. Cheeyandira performs laparoscopically, using tiny incisions that help speed healing. During sleeve gastrectomy surgery, doctors remove most of the stomach, leaving only a banana-shaped section.

“I don’t think I’ll ever make a better decision in my life than to have that surgery,” Gina says.

Soon after the surgery, Gina’s blood pressure and cholesterol were normal—she’s medication-free.

“Her obesity-related health problems, like those of so many bariatric patients, are in remission,” Dr. Cheeyandira says.

According to Dr. Cheeyandira, Gina is a model patient because she is fully committed to the lifestyle changes—especially eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly—that are necessary to make bariatric surgery a lasting success.

And what a success it was. “Before my surgery, I was fatigued, moody and had started to withdraw from people,” Gina says. “None of that is true now. I have a new life—inside and out.”