Operation Weight Loss

This August, Holly Husting will reach one of her milestone weight loss goals: She’s going to ride the zip line at the NEW Zoo in Suamico. “I’ve always wanted to do that,” she says, “but I was too heavy.”

Holly was already overweight in her 20s, but the scale continued to climb. By age 52, she weighed in at 235 pounds—roughly 100 pounds overweight for a woman her height. She was having constant stomach problems, migraines, and acid reflux, and struggled with daily tasks like tying her shoes or getting out of a car.

She’d spent years thinking about bariatric surgery, but fear held her back. That is until last fall when she said enough was enough. “I finally decided it was my time,” she says.

Once she’d decided on surgery, Holly threw herself into the process. “I started right away from day one,” she says, referring to the typical six-month preparation period. She attended a support group for weight loss surgery patients (“I’ll probably go forever”) and began walking more. She bought a digital pedometer and logged 1 million steps in the four months leading up to her procedure.

“I wanted to be fit and feel good before the surgery,” she says. “It made all the difference.”

Gastric Bypass

Patients have several options for weight loss surgery. Holly received Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, the most common procedure performed today.

During the surgery, Dr. Daniel McKenna created an egg sized-pouch from a small section of Holly’s stomach and connected that to the small intestine. Effectively, that means food now bypasses the main part of Holly’s digestive system where calories and nutrients are absorbed. The result: less hunger, better weight loss results.

“I went in on a Wednesday at 7 a.m. and I was home by 2:00 the next afternoon,” she says. “Dr. McKenna was great! He was very encouraging. I think he was even more excited than I was!”

Weight Loss Support

Eleven weeks after surgery, Holly is already down about 47 pounds from her peak weight, 20 of which she dropped before the operation. Her migraines have all but disappeared and she’s off her acid reflux medications.

Holly had tried other diets in the past, and had even joined different gyms—but she says she was always too embarrassed to go. At one point she was averaging about 10 pounds a year in weight gain. “The most I could ever lose was 10 pounds, but I’d gain 15 back again,” she remembers. “I thought, ‘When is it going to stop?’ I knew this was my last hope.”

Today she uses all the supports Aurora BayCare has to offer, visiting with her nutritionist, exercising at the fitness center, and attending the monthly support groups.

Even Half as Happy

“I get up and I feel like a million dollars. It’s so indescribable,” Holly says. Her old clothes varied between a 2X or 3X, but post-surgery she’s had to buy new outfits—one at a time to accommodate her rapidly changing body.  “I cried when I got into an 18, and now I’m a 16.”

Now, Holly looks back on the fear she felt before surgery and is speaking out to help others overcome any similar misgivings.

“I used to like to stay in the background before, but now my goal is to go out and tell other people about it,” she says. “I sing and dance every day now. If someone is half as happy as I am because of their weight, then I would be thrilled.”

Learn more about bariatric surgery.