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Healthy You

From Size 14 to a 2—And Loving It!

Monday, August 19, 2019 11:26 AM

Luisa Montenegro’s story is a common one among women who struggle with their weight even years after giving birth.

“I tried plenty of things, like different diets,” recalled the 29-year old medical assistant from Chicago. “I’d lose some weight, but would gain it right back.” After 10 years of yo-yo dieting, Montenegro—who is barely 5-feet tall—weighed almost 190 pounds and it was having a serious impact on her daily life and health.

Luisa Montenegro

Weighed Down
“I had no energy and I got depressed. My son, who’s now 11, hated that I was down all the time,” she said. “I didn’t want to go out because I would get tired so fast. I’d even doze off during the day and wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air.”

That was the tipping point for Montenegro, who made an appointment with laparoscopic and bariatric specialist Michael Ujiki, MD, the Louis W. Biegler Chair of Surgery. After a comprehensive evaluation, Dr. Ujiki and the bariatric surgery team felt that Luisa was a good candidate for minimally invasive sleeve gastrectomy, which permanently reduces the stomach to about 15% of its original size—creating a tube or sleeve-like structure.

“It’s also been shown to decrease the hormones that make you feel hungry and increases the hormones that make you feel full,” explained Dr. Ujiki, who holds an academic appointment at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. NorthShore’s team offers patients several different options for bariatric surgery. “In Luisa’s case we felt the sleeve gastrectomy would provide her the best results, and it’s done exactly that,” he added.

Focus Beyond Surgery
Luisa has lost 60 pounds, and more importantly, she has kept it off for more than a year and a half. Now, at a healthy 120 pounds, she has dropped from a size 14 to a size 2, and feels like a different person inside and out. “Thanks to the whole NorthShore team, it was a breeze,” beamed Montenegro.

Dr. Ujiki also credits his patient for her quick recovery and sustained weight loss. “It’s thanks to Luisa’s willingness to participate in our multidisciplinary program, which includes working with dietitians to maintain a healthy low-fat diet, working with our weight-loss psychologists and exercising.”

An added benefit is that Luisa unknowingly had sleep apnea, which was aggravated by her excess weight. That, too, disappeared when she shed the 60 pounds. “Oh my God, it’s amazing,” Montenegro said. “I can do things with my son, now. I feel great, I have more energy and feel more confident in myself.”