Half the size, but feeling whole!

Half the size, but feeling whole!

For three years, Ryan Fraley avoided photographs, mirrors and family get togethers, including visits with his mother, because of his weight.

At over 300 pounds, the 23-year old said he didn’t want to see himself – or want anyone else to see him.

“I was at a point where I was super, super depressed,” Fraley said. “If I wanted to shower, I would get in the shower with the lights off, completely undressed, facing away from the mirror... It was not good for me.”

Recognizing his mental and physical state, Fraley’s mother suggested he explore surgical options for weight loss.

“I had tried losing weight with diet and exercise,” Fraley said. “Keto, Paleo, you name it. I tried being a vegan. I tried fasting. I tried it all, and it just was not working.”

Fraley met with Hugo Bonatti, M.D., a bariatric surgeon with Meritus Bariatric Surgical Specialists, in January 2020. Six months later, Dr. Bonatti performed a sleeve gastrectomy – a surgical weight-loss procedure where a large portion of the stomach is removed. Reducing the size of the stomach restricts the amount of food patients are able to consume. The procedure also helps reduce the risk of weight-related health problems like heart disease and high blood pressure.

After the surgery, Dr. Bonatti and Fraley’s mother, who previously had weight-loss surgery, were tremendous sources of support, Fraley said. “Fresh out of surgery, I was up and walking," he said. “

Fraley spent one night in the hospital and then continued his recovery at home. Within the first month, he lost more than 30 pounds. A year after the procedure, he had lost more than 150.

“I’m literally half of myself,” he said. Cheryl Frushour, R.D., L.D.N., a bariatric dietitian at Meritus Medical Center, also contributed to Fraley’s weight loss success.

“She is the best,” Fraley said. “I’d say ‘Hey, I am two months post-op. How many calories should I be consuming today?’ Or, ‘I’ve noticed I’ve gained three pounds, but I’m following the program. Is this normal?’ She’d say, ‘This is completely normal. Your body is healing.’ She’ll make you feel like you’re not going crazy.”

While Fraley has lost significant weight since the surgery, he said he has gained positivity and confidence.

“I am super happy going to work every day,” he said. “I love seeing people. I love shopping… For me and for other people who understand, it’s like a luxury now to walk out of a store with outfits you feel good in.”

Fraley also has some advice for anyone considering a similar weight loss surgery.

“Trust the process,” he said. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but in the year after your (surgery), you’re going to be a completely different person and have a whole different outlook on life.”

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