An obese woman whose weight soared to 340lbs has revealed how she shed 180lbs after flying to Mexico to undergo cheap weight loss surgery – while warning others against opting for budget procedures because it left her with huge scars.
Teresa Stafford, 37, paid just $3,500 for the procedure to remove 75 per cent of her stomach, which she said would have cost her $25,000 in the United States.
The Burien, Washington, resident lost 180lbs after the gastric sleeve operation in March 2018 and now weighs 160lbs, having spent years gorging herself on fast food and pizza, and drinking 12 cans of cola a day.
Transformed: Teresa Stafford, from Washington, has revealed how she shed 180lbs after flying to Mexico to undergo cheap weight loss surgery
‘I heard about the [weight loss] surgery in 2008 and I applied through my insurance but I wasn’t approved,’ she revealed.
‘By 2018 I was close to 400lbs and in the US it costs around $25,000 for weight loss surgery.
‘So I got on Facebook and found a group for people who had gone to Mexico and I decided to go that route.’
Teresa, who used to work in vehicle licensing, struggled with her weight all her life and comfort ate from a young age.
‘I would eat pizza and fried food every day,’ she confessed. ‘I drank over a case of soda a day – that’s 12 cans. I was almost drinking a can of Coke every hour.’
Her weight made her frightened to do everyday things.
‘It made me scared to try anything because I didn’t want to look stupid,’ Teresa confessed. ‘I felt like everyone was staring at me.
‘I did try to get it under control but a lot of times I felt like I was just too far gone.’
Before: The 37-year-old’s weight ballooned to more than 340lbs thanks to her unhealthy diet, which saw her consuming fast food, pizza, and 12 cans of soda every day
Changes: Teresa began losing weight before her surgery (left) which took place in March 2018 – and within months she had slimmed down to 160lbs (right)
Wow: Surgeons in Mexico removed 75 per cent of her stomach (pictured) during the gastric sleeve procedure, leaving her unable to eat more than tiny quantities of food
Eventually she decided to travel to a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, for bariatric surgery where a doctor removes around 75 per cent of the stomach, leaving a sleeve-shaped portion which holds much less food.
‘The cost included one night in a hotel, one night in the hospital and one night in the recovery house,’ she shared.
‘The surgery is so common there, I wasn’t super worried about it. I was worried it wasn’t going to work.’
Although the surgery was successful, Teresa cautioned that it wasn’t a ‘magic fix.’
‘I thought I was going to feel amazing but all my skin was sagging off my body,’ she said.
‘It felt like a whole new set of insecurities. The lower half of my stomach was really bad, my boobs were horrible, pretty much everything was sagging.’
She returned to Mexico last October to have skin removal surgery and breast implants but has not been happy with the results.
‘I was left with a barbaric looking scar that goes from right above my butt all the way around my tummy.’
Healthy: After the surgery, Teresa completely transformed her diet, replacing fast food and pizza with turkey sandwiches and cereal
Svelte: Following her gastric surgery, Teresa was left with unsightly saggy skin, so she returned to Mexico to get it removed
New outlook: Teresa says her life has been completely changed by the surgery, explaining that she feels so much more comfortable going about simple daily tasks
But Teresa, who has gone from a size 22 to a size 10, added that she is happier without the excess weight.
‘I could barely breathe before, it was a struggle,’ she confessed. ‘I eat pretty normally now, I’ll have cereal in the morning and a turkey sandwich for lunch.
‘I haven’t drunk soda since my surgery. It just tastes way too sweet, I find it disgusting now.’
She has also noticed differences to her social life.
‘I feel like people are a bit friendlier to me,’ she said. ‘I’ve noticed that men who wouldn’t have talked to me before suddenly think that talking to me might be a good idea.’
She cautioned anyone considering going to Mexico for a similar procedure.
‘I definitely think that people should research their clinic – and ask to see what kind of scars other people have had,’ Teresa said.
‘They really don’t explain much to you when you are down there and there’s also a language barrier.’