Dr. Almanza saved my life! *

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  • Name: Heidi Torkelsen
  • Age: 56
  • Surgery: Lap Band Removal
  • Surgery date: March 3rd, 2017
  • Testimonial date: March 8th, 2017
  • Surgeon: Dr. Mario Almanza
In 1988 I had a BMI of 46 and chose to have gastric segmentation surgery. This procedure was pioneered by Dr. Marcel Molina and was on the cutting edge of bariatric surgery. I successfully lost 125 lbs and was dubbed the "incredible shrinking nurse" (yes, I am an RN).

Let's fast forward 28 years of yoyo weight loss and gains which kept my BMI 31-35 (obesity). Poor eating choices and emotional eating as well as sedentary lifestyle habits were major contributors to the demise of my weight loss success.

About a year ago I experienced three separate incidences of severe epigastric/chest/throat/abdominal pain that finally brought me to the ER. Being a 56 year old woman who presented with atypical cardiac symptoms I received a full cardiac workup. I'm happy to say my ticker is just fine. I started noticed my tolerance to food quantities and types had changed. I could eat more volume. But I still had GERD, indigestion, no eating 4+ hrs before bedtime and I had to sleep on 5 pillows at night. But at least I wasn't having any more severe pain, whew!

I was referred to GI (tummy department) and had a barium study (swallow that chalky stuff and have a video x-ray) and then a "flip" procedure (stick camera down throat into stomach and intestines and look around, then flip you over and go at it from the other end... in THAT ORDER!). They could not find anything wrong. In fact, the doctor(s) reported the band was gone. It was not seen on either procedure. My eating tolerances changed. Some days I could eat a lot, I affectionately called them "eat days" and then some days I was unable to hold down hardly anything. But I didn't lose weight. I maintained a BMI around 31-35.

A few months ago my very dear friend discovered Weight Loss Agents and Dr. Almanza. One of our co-workers had Dr. Almanza do her sleeve and she spoke very highly of the care and success she had experienced. I really wanted to have someone LOOK inside me and make sure things were alright. A lap band to sleeve revision was exactly what I needed for weight loss maintenance and peace of mind.

Weight Loss Agents made the process incredibly simple. I felt very supported and informed. Some of the other patients did not have access to or use the patient portal and they were at significant disadvantage.

The process was so simple, the hospital was modern and clean, the staff was very caring and kind. Dr. Almanza (easy on the eyes too!) was very professional and had my best interest at heart. I found out after surgery that he was unable to perform the sleeve. The lap band had eroded through my stomach and was causing major issues. Dr. Almanza had the wherewithal to take pictures and video of the surgical repair of my stomach. The words "What in the hell...?" have been uttered by most people when they see the video.
I was devastated when I found out I had gone through all the pre-op prep, surgery, "nose hose" (nasogastric tube for 48 hrs post op due to procedure done) and post op recovery only to find out I did not get the sleeve after all! Commence the flood of tears. Sobbing. Defeat. Feelings of utter loss. Nurse Natalie was so very kind to me. She did her very best both verbally and in a sweet hand written note to calm my fears and to remind me that the best thing for my own well being and health was done.

After the shock of it all, I was told the stomach needs about 8 weeks to heal; at which time I am a candidate for a sleeve. I have toyed around with the idea of delaying the surgery and do a year of full on eating like everyone else. I haven't eaten like that in over 28 years, but that's what got me in trouble in the first place, so I have opted not to wait. I realize I need the restriction the sleeve offers. My willpower needs help. So I am booking my sleeve procedure 8-12 weeks after the lap band removal.

The possibilities of complications and quality of life that could have presented itself have humbled me. I am grateful to Dr. Almanza and his caring team for preserving my quality of life and even possibly saving it. I am blessed; truly blessed to have another opportunity to start over. Thank you Dr. Almanza and your caring team for taking such good care of me.
    * This is an actual testimonial, however, your results may vary. For more information, please read our Testimonial Disclaimer and Risks of Surgery.

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      * The testimonials, statements, and opinions presented on our website are only applicable to the individuals depicted, and may not be representative of the experience of others. For more information, please read our Testimonial Disclaimer and Risks of Surgery.