Carissa Roselli, age 25, battled abnormal weight gain for five long years, before receiving a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects up to 10 percent of all women.
After gaining 150 pounds while she tried to get an accurate diagnosis, she chose bariatric surgery to lose the weight, one of the few options to overcome PCOS hormonal weight gain.
Carissa shares her personal story
During my teens, I maintained a weight between 150-155 pounds. I never had to worry about working out or eating right. But when I turned 19, three months into a new relationship with a great guy, I started to gain weight every month. My lifestyle was the same, but I was adding about 10 pounds a month; by the end of the year, my weight was up to nearly 275 pounds.
I was in a panic because I had no idea what was happening — nor did five different doctors who were unable to diagnose what was happening to me. “It’s your thyroid, you have Cushing syndrome or you’re eating too much,” they told me. Test after test, poke-and-prod after poke-and-prod, and still no diagnosis. Everything else about my health was perfect: organ function, blood pressure, blood sugar. This fact only further baffled the doctors.
Meanwhile, I desperately tried diet after diet. On the B12 diet, I lost 22 pounds in two weeks, only to regain 30 pounds weeks later. I fell into a dark depression, which strained my relationship with my boyfriend, friends and family. I hated myself and not knowing what was happening to my body — or being able to stop the insidious weight gain. By 2013, I had given up. I had gained 150 pounds and weighed 302 pounds.
An Unexpected Diagnosis
In 2014, I saw a new primary care physician. After explaining my shocking weight gain story, he immediately responded, “You probably have PCOS.”
I went home and researched polycystic ovary syndrome and couldn’t believe it. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of female infertility. It can also mess with your hormones resulting in extraordinary weight gain.
Soon after, an endocrinologist confirmed his diagnosis. Since I don’t suffer from painful ovarian cysts, like most PCOS sufferers, this partially explained why other doctors overlooked this diagnosis. After discussing treatment options with my gynecologist, she laid out two options:
- I could take metformin, a medication for diabetics (even though I wasn’t diabetic or even pre-diabetic) which would stop the weight gain, but not help with any weight loss.
- I could have bariatric weight loss surgery. My gynecologist explained weight loss surgery is not a cure for PCOS, because there is no cure, but it is the best option to control it and lose the weight.
Up to 50 percent of women who struggle with PCOS are also very overweight. Bariatric surgery seems to reset the hormonal imbalances, especially ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Ghrelin levels in many women with PCOS are unusually high, resulting in an inability to feel satiety, or fullness.
Carissa Searches for a Top Bariatric Surgeon
For me, I had only one option.
It was now 2016 and I had been carrying the extra weight for five long years. But I was still suspect that this medical condition, which had taken over my life, could be defeated by having bariatric surgery.
>>> How to Find the Right Bariatric Surgeon for You
After three months of intensive research, I was ready to move forward with choosing my bariatric doctor. I discovered Dr. Seun Sowemimo of Prime Surgicare in Freehold, NJ, whose name came up multiple times in my research as one of the best bariatric surgeons in the tristate area. I knew he was the right choice for me. His office was a two-hour round-trip drive for me, but I wanted to be in the best hands possible. I made the appointment that officially would change my life.
Dr. Sowemimo made me feel safe, calm and that he actually cared about me. Because of my long history with ‘doctor failures,’ I’m an expert on doctor bedside manner and he was A+. He assured me we would be partners in this journey. After medical testing and clearance, I was scheduled for gastric sleeve weight loss surgery on January 18, 2017.
Never having surgery before, I won’t lie, I was petrified. It may sound crazy, but the second I woke up from surgery I could feel the difference in my mentality immediately. I felt relief that this nightmare was coming to an end.
Dropping 150 Pounds in Less Than a Year
Today, I am nearly 11 months post-op and have lost the 150 pounds I gained because of PCOS. Here’s how my life has changed:
- I’m back to being ‘me’ again, mentally and physically.
- I own a business with my boyfriend.
- I am a full-time time student studying secondary education, something I’ve wanted to do for years, but couldn’t muster the strength.
- I work part-time in a restaurant.
- I can cross my legs again.
My boyfriend has remained by my side since my initial diagnosis at age 19. (That’s right girls, there are some great ones left out there and I am one of the lucky ones to have found one!) . My family has been my rock. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without knowing they were all behind me 100 percent.
>>> Learn More About Prime Surgicare’s Exclusive Bariatric Success Program.
What I’ve Learned About Living with PCOS
My younger sister was also diagnosed with PCOS at age 19. We also learned that our mother had also battled it decades ago, before it was an official disease. My sister is preparing to undergo gastric sleeve weight loss surgery in early 2018.
PCOS is not a life sentence. You can manage it and even take your life back, as I did. Do not let this disease control you, as I did for five years. If you have this monster, there is hope; I am proof of that.
Do your research and find what’s right for you. If you chose the bariatric surgery route, understand that you have to do the work; follow your nutrition plan, drink tons of water, start exercising again, even if it’s a little at a time, and keep your eye on the goal of losing the weight, day by day.
I can’t promise that your weight loss surgery journey will be as smooth as mine, but I can say it will be worth the initial fear and anxiety you have to go through. And, trust me, it’s more than worth it.
Dr. Seun Sowemimo and Dr. Bennet Togbe are board-certified and fellowship-trained, general, laparoscopic and bariatric surgeons in NJ. They specialize in minimally invasive weight loss surgery and general surgery procedures including diverticulitis, gallbladder and hernia conditions. They are the top NJ surgeons at Prime Surgicare, with offices in Freehold serving Monmouth and Ocean counties.
To learn more, visit our YouTube channel or call Prime Surgicare at (732)-982-2002.