Amanda Slavin has been active her whole life. As a high school and collegiate athlete, she regularly worked out and loved to run long distances. But despite playing lacrosse throughout college, she began to gain significant weight her junior year. 

Amanda continued to exercise and walked everywhere on campus, but she began to feel exhausted. The extra 100 pounds she gained over two years made her normal routine difficult to continue. 

To say she was frustrated would be an understatement. Amanda tried every diet she could to no avail, and was even prescribed diet pills from her doctor. Worse, the multiple practitioners she spoke with didn’t seem to take her seriously or confused her by diagnosing her with different ailments. 

Her breaking point was the day she boarded a flight to Scotland and began to panic wondering what other passengers might say or if she would have to ask for a seatbelt extender. Amanda realized then that she wanted to make a change. 

A Weight-Loss Team That Understands

Amanda spoke with her general practitioner, who has known her since she was a child, and was referred to Valley's bariatric surgeon, medical director of bariatric surgery at Valley Medical Group. “The doctor understood my story, while other doctors questioned it. Her practice had seen athletes with similar situations,” Amanda says. 

The doctor discussed the pros and cons of bariatric surgery. For Amanda, the decision wasn’t taken lightly; she thoughtfully considered the long-term effects of bariatric surgery. She has a busy career, would like to eventually become a mother, and didn’t want to be on cholesterol or blood pressure medications. She also wanted to return to running and feeling good. 

Preparing for gastric bypass surgery included pre-operative appointments to learn what was in store. Amanda says the visits helped her learn much about herself and how her weight was affecting other aspects of her health (for example, she discovered she had restless leg syndrome and borderline sleep apnea). Amanda also completed a two-week pre-op diet to prepare physically and mentally for surgery.

Time for Surgery

After completing her pre-operative appointments, Amanda got the green light to have gastric bypass, a minimally invasive procedure. “Gastric bypass is done both laparoscopically and robotically. I can control the robot with great dexterity and precision,” her doctor explains. Most patients say their pain is minimal, akin to crunches.

Amanda’s surgery took under three hours,* and she was drinking fluids and on her feet walking the halls later that day.  

The bariatric floor at Valley Hospital has private rooms for each patient. And when patients return home after their one- to two-day stay, a visiting nurse checks on them to ensure they are recovering properly.

An Immediate Change

When patients like Amanda undergo bariatric surgery, they learn that their ‘gut hormones’ immediately change. The feeling of satiety improves, and patients feel fuller sooner. Patients start with a diet of liquids before progressing to soft foods and eventually normal food, but they don’t have the urge to consume as much as they once did. 

Through the process, Amanda learned that she underestimated her sugar intake and has cut it in half. She also learned that late dinners – once a staple of her hectic work schedule – aren’t conducive to her new healthy lifestyle. “The gastric bypass has allowed me to function better and it’s been seamless in my everyday life. I pack my lunches and have a daily routine now,” she says.

Another change is Amanda’s mental outlook. She realized how much stress she felt, both physically and mentally, from the added weight. 

Best of all, Amanda can run again, without the joint pain or fractures she experienced in college. “When I lost the ability to run, I lost a part of myself. Now I have this mental release and it feels fantastic!”

Amanda’s Advice

Amanda is now 125 pounds lighter, and she feels she’s regained control over her weight. She says it’s a daily exercise in mindfulness and work. “The surgery can do great things for you, but you have to take responsibility for how you live your daily life. You have to commit to the surgery 100%, or your results won’t be 100%” she adds.

She encourages anyone considering surgery to do their research and find support. Amanda did research on YouTube and online, in addition to the informational meeting she attended at Valley. She now feels she can be a resource to those who have questions or are considering the same path.

“My experience at Valley was a five-star experience. The amount of time the doctor and staff spent with me, and the genuinely kind people who understood and took the time to listen and be there for me meant everything. Everyone was very accommodating. It’s hard to find doctors who take the time for their patients the way she does. They gave me their undivided attention and made me feel special.”