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Published on July 24, 2018

Weight Loss Surgery: Soaring High - No Seatbelt (Extender) Required!

Tracy Wall - Bariatrics patient

“One of my goals in losing weight was to be able to fly without needing a seatbelt extender,” says Tracy Wall, 51, of Greensboro. “In 2017, I accomplished that goal, with inches to spare!”

After decades of requesting extenders from airlines, Tracy had finally succeeded in losing excess weight—190 lbs., to be exact.

Extenders connect to existing airplane seatbelts to add up to two extra feet in length. They’re a noted bane of travelers who are overweight. For years, Tracy needed them during her regular family trips flying to New York City.

“To an outsider, using a normal seatbelt might sound like a frivolous goal,” she says. “However for me, it represented a major physical and emotional victory. It represented a dividing line between who I once was and who I had become.”

Time for change

According to Tracy, the reason for her success was her personal commitment to the Bariatric Weight Loss Program at Cone Health, along with the strong support of staff there and family at home.

In prior years, weight seriously affected Tracy’s life and her lifestyle. She had high blood pressure and sleep apnea, both of which required treatment. Carrying around the excess weight caused pain in her joints and muscles, so she couldn’t be as active as she wanted to be.

Weight loss in the past had been difficult for her, in part due to her having polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can cause health problems that include weight gain.

“Bariatric surgery was something that I had considered off and on throughout the previous years, but I never pursued it,” she says. With the changing family dynamics of her children growing up and starting new lives, she decided it was time to focus on herself. She and her husband discussed all of the options and made the commitment to move forward with gastric bypass surgery.

“I did it so I could look forward to the next part of my life,” she says.

Tracy Wall - Before and After Surgery

Tracy Wall before and after surgery.

Trusted team

Cone Health was her first choice, she says. “They’ve always been here for my family. And after attending the introductory bariatric class, I knew they would be there for me through this as well!”

She signed on for a screening period, which includes education and support. “Bariatric surgery is not a quick fix,” she says. “The surgery itself is only a starting point. The real work comes in the months and years after. The staff at Cone Health really want you to be prepared for all this.”

Having a strong support system is critical for long term success,” Tracy says. “With all of the support from the staff and mentors at Cone, plus from my family, I had no doubt that I could do it.”

Tracy also tapped into the wisdom and experience of other patients, at regular support group meetings. “The staff at Cone connects you with mentors who have had the surgery, who can tell you what it’s going to be like,” she says.

Health goals: check!

Tracy applauds Cone Health for helping her accomplish significant health goals. She no longer needs any blood pressure medicine at all. The C-Pap machine (to help her breathe at night because of sleep apnea) is also a thing of the past.

Even just getting through the basic activities of her daily life has become much easier.

“When we would go on our trips to New York City before I had the surgery, I would struggle with the shear amount of walking required,” she recalls. “I just did not have the stamina to walk long distances.” And the toll that the excess weight took on her feet and legs was another real issue.

Today, the trips become much more pleasurable—no seatbelt extender required! She and her family appreciate her higher fitness level.

“I used to struggle to keep up with my family,” she says. “Now my family has to keep up with me!” 

Another bonus: the increased energy has enabled Tracy to reach new goals, such as completing her first 5k, which she did in 2015.

 “Victories like these bring with them a powerful feeling of accomplishment because of the emotions attached to them,” she says. “It was the people at Cone Health who started me on my way. They’re 100 percent top-notch and gave me everything I needed to get to where I am.”

See Tracy’s story on the Fox 8 House Call:

About Cone Health Bariatric Surgery

The Cone Health Bariatric Surgery Program is the only program in the Triad that is recognized as a Center of Excellence by North Carolina’s top four health plans:

    • Aetna Institute of Quality (IOQ) for Bariatric Surgery
    • BlueCross BlueShield Blue Distinction Center Plus (+) for Bariatric Surgery
    • Cigna Designated Facility for Bariatric Surgery
    • UnitedHealthcare Center of Excellence for Bariatric Surgery

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