Gianna Soussan

One year after robotic sleeve gastrectomy (“gastric sleeve”) surgery* at Manatee Memorial Hospital, Gianna Soussan, 26, weighs 128 pounds less and refers to her health and her life as “transformed.”

Gianna says she struggled with being overweight for as long as she can remember. As a teenager, she consulted a nutritionist and tried various diets, to no avail. Now, 14 months after weight-loss surgery, Gianna says she “feels healthier and more alive than ever.” Her related conditions, including pre-diabetes, hypothyroidism, ulcerative colitis, sleep apnea, migraines, anxiety and depression, have all resolved, she says.

“It wasn’t until I got to experience life in a healthy body for the first time ever that I truly recognized how much my weight affected my daily living,” Gianna says. “My victories are with both the mundane — such as sitting comfortably with my legs crossed, having more space between my tummy and the wheel of my car, my thighs no longer chafing when I walk in shorts — and the more meaningful, like shopping for normal-sized clothing, enjoying the kiddy amusement rides with my baby nephew, playing in an adult softball league, comfortably riding roller coasters and climbing on my boyfriend’s back for piggyback rides.”

Weight-Loss Surgery Advice — Stick to the plan

“The surgery is only the first step,” says Stelios Rekkas, MD, FACS, FASMBS, Manatee Weight Loss Center physician and director of the surgical weight loss program at Manatee Memorial Hospital. “It’s the patient who makes the difference in their own life when they commit to using the lifelong tools we give them to help keep the weight off.”

“Dig deep and do this for yourself, because you’re worth it.”

“Everything I learned from my weight-loss team has now become a part of my lifestyle,” says Gianna. “I eat well and exercise a majority of the time, while being kind to myself and still allowing myself a treat once in a while.

“Self-awareness is key. If obesity is due to a food addiction, the addiction can manifest elsewhere after surgery, such as alcoholism or gambling. Dr. Rekkas was great about preparing me for both the physical and mental aspects of having this surgery. Find a good therapist and a community of support with others also on a weight-loss journey. I found so many relatable stories on Instagram.”

*Gastric sleeve surgery reduces the size of the stomach so that the patient feels full with less, while still absorbing all of the needed nutrients. Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if bariatric surgery is right for you.

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