Linda before her surgeryIt’s been three years since Linda’s successful weight-loss surgery that not only transformed, but saved, her life.

Linda came to the Surgical Weight Loss Center at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center weighing 300 pounds. She was a Type-2 Diabetic, had high blood pressure, required surgical removal of her gallbladder, and had to utilize a wheelchair to move around during her struggle with weight gain. When her weight-related issues were at their worst, she went into sepsis and her doctor informed her that she would only have a year to live if she didn’t greatly change her lifestyle.

Weight-loss surgery was highly recommended by her doctor, and with the support of her family, she sought help from Atif Iqbal, M.D., medical director, Digestive Care Center at Orange Coast Medical Center, who is an expert in minimally invasive weight-loss surgery. During the weight-loss consultation, Dr. Iqbal explained the surgical options available to her, what to expect before and after the procedure, and how much of a commitment a weight-loss surgery would be.

“Dr. Iqbal never pressured me for a specific surgery, he gave me all the information I needed and asked me what I wanted to do,” said Linda. “Then he worked with whatever my decision was, and that was to have gastric sleeve surgery.”

Gastric sleeve surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that involves stapling approximately 70-80 percent of the stomach's natural capacity without involving the intestinal tract. On the day of her surgery, she remembers feeling like a celebrity walking into Orange Coast Medical Center.

“It’s such a beautiful hospital and they made me feel so special,” said Linda. “Dr. Iqbal was great. He called Larry, my husband, with updates since my surgery was during the COVID-19 pandemic and Larry couldn’t be with me for the surgery. I really appreciated that.”

The surgery was a success with minimal pain afterwards. Her care team provided her with a bellyband which provided abdominal support, along with assisting for the surgical incisions to heal quickly. She was walking after surgery and experienced no pain besides a sore incision site; she was discharged the following day.

After surgery, Linda dropped over 100 pounds and now stays at a healthy weight between 155-160 pounds. She’s off insulin and the blood pressure medications that she was reliant on before the weight loss.Linda after her surgery

“I didn’t deviate from the bariatric food plan for the first two years,” said Linda. “I didn’t want to open the door to carbs and sugar because bad habits can sneak in so fast. But I’ve adapted to a new way of life, and nothing bothers me about food. It comes down to deciding what type of life I want.”

Linda and her family are beyond pleased with the results of Linda’s weight-loss because now she can participate in family events, no longer watching on the sidelines in her wheelchair. One of her favorite memories after surgery was finally being able to float in the pool with her family.

“I’m doing better now in my 70s than I was in my 50s,” said Linda. “I credit my success not only to my family who pushed me to go through with the surgery, but to Dr. Iqbal, the bariatric support groups and the patient follow-ups. They gave me what I needed to be successful, and I continue to attend the support groups to this day.”

The Surgical Weight Loss Center at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center is a comprehensive program designed to provide patients with support throughout their journey. Her decision to go through gastric sleeve surgery required six months of nutritional classes and counseling before she could have the surgery. In 2023, Orange Coast Medical Center earned the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Surgical Quality Partner award, showcasing the maintenance of the highest standards in surgical care. Post surgery, the program offers a Surgical Weight Loss Support Group twice a week for patients, and Linda chooses to mentor others within the support group who are beginning their weight-loss journey.

“Every single day is a choice,” said Linda. “Decisions can set you closer to your goal or further from your goal, and you must continue to put in work after surgery. Each day is demanding work, but for me, I feel great, and I refuse to go back.”