“I wanted to become a healthier version of myself,” said Mel Parent, 49, of Otis, when asked why she chose to have weight loss surgery.
In 2014, Parent had reached her heaviest weight yet. She was borderline diabetic, had trouble breathing and required a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine while sleeping. Physical activity was often difficult and sometimes painful, and she was up against a family history of heart issues.
“This was my tipping point. I knew it was time for a change,” said Parent.
Parent didn’t immediately jump to the idea of having weight loss surgery.
“I made lifestyle changes first,” said Parent. “I paid closer attention to what I was eating. I exercised more — despite the difficulty. But even after giving it more than a year and seeing some of the weight come off — I plateaued.”
After many conversations with her family doctor to discuss weight loss options, Parent was referred to Samaritan Weight Management Institute. In September 2016, Parent had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy — a procedure that reduces the size of the stomach, creating a feeling of fullness faster, even with smaller quantities of food.
Overall, Parent’s recovery from weight loss surgery went well. Then, she was met with a series of other obstacles, including emergency gallbladder surgery a month after her weight loss surgery, a serious car accident six months later and the unfortunate news of her mother’s cancer diagnosis.
“It was a perfect storm of unfortunate occurrences,” said Parent. “But I wasn’t going to let that sway me.”
Her internal motivation, combined with continued support from her parents and fiancé and participation in the program’s support groups kept her on track.
Exercise also became one of Parent’s favorite pastimes. From going to the gym to taking upwards of three‑mile strolls at Devil’s Lake State Park, the weight continued to come off.
Excess skin resulted however, often making exercise for Parent painful.
“I didn’t want to go backwards with the progress I had made simply because I had discomfort in my arms when working out,” said Parent.
Parent decided to meet with Kevin Day, MD, a plastic surgeon at the Samaritan Plastic, Reconstructive & Hand Surgery clinic. Together, they decided the best way to address Parent’s arm discomfort and to keep her weight loss journey on track was to do an arm lift (brachioplasty). The surgery was successful, and Parent was thrilled with the results.
“It’s been just over six years since I truly committed to becoming a healthier version of myself,” said Parent. “Despite the personal obstacles, and not to mention a pandemic, I’ve lost 280 pounds in total, going from a size 26 pants to a 10 or 12 and a shirt size of 4x to 5x down to a medium or large. I can honestly say I feel great and I’m enjoying life more than ever.”
To others considering weight loss surgery, Parent emphasizes the importance of focusing on the positives and not what you might miss out on. She also continues to set goals for herself, including plans to go horseback riding — something she’s been unable to do for a very long time.