Helaina's mini gastric bypass surgery

"I’ve lost 7 stone and counting! To say that Tonic and Mr El-Hasani have saved my life would be no exaggeration at all."

Helaina’s Weight Loss Story

Life before surgery – 

Before surgery I weighed 16 stone and was a UK Dress Size 20. I felt lost, hopeless, judged, incredibly unhealthy, heavy (both physically and emotionally), drained, exhausted, ashamed and pointless. I didn’t have the confidence I needed to do my job properly. I felt underestimated and looked down on by everyone I met and I used to avoid eye contact and self-deprecate all the time.

I had a horrendous bad back and sciatica from the excess weight and was starting to get bad knees too. Stairs were becoming an issue, as was any kind of short walk or physical activity. I could no longer keep up with the kids or do any of the things I used to love and felt very embarrassed if I ever tried to. I was so uncomfortable and just didn’t feel like me anymore. I would rarely go out. I’d find any excuse to not have to get dressed and would avoid answering the door. My skin was very unhealthy too.

I would try fad diets and manage to lose a stone or so but then fail to sustain it and gain it all back again plus a bit more. I have Borderline Personality Disorder which results in some excessive behaviours and Binge Eating Disorder and emotional eating had become a terrible struggle for me. The vicious circle of self-neglect and sabotage and losing any sense of pride and self-worth just continued round and round and round and I saw no way out of it. It has just gone too far.

My Tonic experience – 

I had the Mini Gastric Bypass as I’d heard the results were usually pretty phenomenal and the benefits of a two pronged approach: reduced absorption as well as the actual restriction also appealed to me. It’s also far less invasive a procedure than the traditional RNY method of gastric bypass.

Mr El-Hasani, my surgeon has around 40 years of experience. He’s a straight-talking, knowledgable, cool as a cucumber, no-nonsense genius and I knew from the first moment of our initial consultation that I’d be in safe hands with him and his extensive expertise. Any questions I had were answered so clearly and I was put completely at ease about what to expect from the process and of course given a very detailed account of what would also be expected of me for achieving the best possible life changing results.

Life after surgery –

I’ve lost 7 stone and counting!!!  The aftercare offering was without a doubt what lead me to book my surgery via Tonic. I was provided with a nutritionist, nurse, psychiatrist and virtual personal trainer, all of whom were in contact very promptly. They were super reassuring but didn’t hound me after the first few regular check-ins immediately following the procedure. I just know exactly where to find them if I need anything.

The mental health support in particular was absolutely vital during such a life-changing and intense experience as bariatric surgery. The psychological impact of such an immense experience is not to be underestimated. It’s far from like waving a magic wand and requires a lot of resilience and commitment. So I am so glad to have had these additional support measures in place. I’d have been very stuck without this!

I don’t feel like the old me (before I gained all the extra weight in the first place)….I feel like a new, even better version of myself now, with beautiful signs of wear and tear, life, motherhood, stories and memories made, visible on my body – far from perfection, but now healthy, confident, radiant and and full of energy!

I am more confident in my job as a wedding planner and chasing all kinds of other new opportunities as well. I socialise happily and carry myself completely differently! I now get excited to get ready to go out and enjoy finally being able to embrace my identity and enjoy fashion and style again. I’ve even been able to ride my daughter’s pony and I dance again too!

I’d described how I’d felt pre-surgery to Tonic’s psychiatrist as being hidden away hibernating and forgotten about inside a giant fat suit. The same person I was growing up (when I’d been slim and much happier in myself) but engulfed deep under the layers and waiting to climb back out.

That’s exactly what’s happened. I’ve emerged! I was in there somewhere and just needed to shed the layers that were consuming me, weighing me down and holding me back. The climb out of that suit has been so unbelievably freeing and liberating. I no longer feel heavy, in both senses of the word. I feel like I could fly! Weightless.

I actually also have a whole new appreciation for food, which was unexpected. I eat much more mindfully as I want to savour and make the most of every single mouthful. I make far healthier choices because I have a new respect for my body and my insides now and the procedure seems to have cured my binge eating! My mindset has shifted entirely. Bariatric surgery doesn’t have to mean you can never enjoy eating again. In fact, it’s been the very opposite for me.

I would wholeheartedly recommend Tonic, as from the very first day I reached out to them, up to the day of surgery and well beyond, they have helped me to feel considered, reassured, cared for and heard.

One of the very best things that has come from booking my surgery via Tonic has also been their incredible Facebook community. To share inspiration and non-judgmental support with others who know exactly what you’re going through and are all at slightly different stages of their own personal bariatric journeys has been invaluable. I now consider many of these people to be life long friends and I can’t wait to meet some of them face to face. Roll on Tonic Fest! I’m so proud of each and every one of them.

Tonic’s literature, clearly outlined processes, detailed care plan and explanations of the various surgery options etc ahead of my making a decision to proceed also really stood out for me.

To say that Tonic and Mr El-Hasani have saved my life would be no exaggeration at all.