Devon Montgomery had struggled with her weight since she was 14 years old. When she turned 29, she decided to do something about it.
“I had a new partner, who is now my husband,” she says. “I knew 30 was coming and I just felt like I wanted to start my 30s healthy. I also knew that I wanted to start a family, but I needed to get my weight down first.”
Devon, an associate director of alumni relations at Haverford College, whose father and step-mother are both doctors at Hahnemann University Hospital, had heard of the bariatric surgery program, but it wasn’t until she attended an information session that she was sure it was right for her.
“My nutritionist thought I was a good candidate because I was young and had a better chance of long-term success,” she says. “The program coordinator answered all my questions and took my insurance information. Two days later, I got the call that my insurance would cover the surgery.”
Feeling like part of the family
Before Devon could undergo the surgery, she needed to join the program at The Center for Surgical Weight Loss at Hahnemann University Hospital, led by Medical Director Andres Castellanos, M.D. The program consists of, among other components, completing a detailed assessment, meeting with a psychologist, cardiologist and pulmonologist, and participating in a support group.
“I really liked this program over others I had heard about,” Devon says. “The program is transparent, tailored to the individual and feels very much like a family.”
Devon says she feels lucky that she found the program and was healthy enough to have the surgery.
“I’m tall, so I’ve always carried weight well, but a BMI of 47 is not healthy,” she says. “I knew I could lose 20 pounds on my own, but I didn’t have the time or energy to lose all the weight I needed to lose. Some people questioned why I needed to have the surgery, but in the end, my family was very supportive.”
Hahnemann offers two options for bariatric surgery — laparoscopic gastric bypass and laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy — both of which are minimally invasive and routinely performed by surgeons. Devon and her doctor decided to go with the laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Devon says she felt it was less drastic than bypass surgery, and she knew she could always convert to bypass should she need it.
After the surgery, performed by Dr. Castellanos, the weight came off rapidly.
“When I had the surgery on August 18, 2014, I was 330 pounds and a size 24,” she says. “Just over a year later, I’m 185 pounds and a size 10.”
Other than the weight loss, Devon says she has noticed many other positive changes since having the surgery.
“I used to have to get a seatbelt extender on airplanes,” she says. “I got bruises on my thighs from squeezing into seats. I’d knock over glasses at restaurants trying to move in between tables. No more! Now I can shop for clothes wherever I want, which is a huge victory.”
Devon continues to experience victories on her journey to better health. She recently helped coordinate and modeled in a fashion show at the hospital. She married her boyfriend and began training to run a 5K. She’s also looking forward to starting a family.