Theresa poses with her support staff, Shaun and Shaun, Jr., at a family wedding after her surgery.

Overeating, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle are three of the biggest culprits for our nation’s obesity crisis. All these factors are largely controllable, but, left unchecked, they become more and more difficult to overcome over time. Sometimes, however, life presents individuals with circumstances that promote obesity and are simply beyond their control. That was the case with Theresa Carr, 32, of Tewksbury, MA.

Theresa admits that her own actions contributed to her being overweight, but her situation became worse after she developed polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that causes an imbalance in a woman’s hormones. This imbalance, in turn, can cause irregular periods, infertility, depression, weight gain, and difficulty in losing weight.

Dr. Scott Shikora, Director, Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, suggests that Theresa’s experience is a good example for those who believe that bariatric surgery is a shortcut for patients who should simply exercise more or work harder to eat less. “What they’re failing to realize is that while bad eating habits certainly do play into this, it’s often genetics,” explains Shikora. “And people can’t beat their genes.”

The prospect of not being healthy for her five-year-old son, Shaun, Jr., and not being able to have another child motivated Theresa to consider bariatric surgery.

She went to see Dr. Ali Tavakkoli, a surgeon at the Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery and Co-Director of the Brigham Metabolic Institute, who explained that bariatric surgery is not only an effective way to promote weight loss, but also can treat a variety of metabolic conditions, including diabetes and PCOS.

On April 7, 2011, Dr. Tavakkoli performed gastric bypass surgery on Theresa. This particular procedure involves the creation of a very small stomach section (pouch) and cuts off access to (bypasses) the rest of the stomach. Approximately one year after the surgery, Theresa had shrunk from 297 pounds to 180 pounds, and, not surprisingly, she was feeling great.

“I definitely feel better now, one hundred percent,” says Theresa. “I have more energy to do everything.”

With one goal achieved, Dr. Tavakkoli gave her the go-ahead to try to become pregnant again. And, voila, within months she was pregnant.

Theresa and her husband, Shaun, are expecting to become parents of a baby girl in early April, right near her son’s birthday and the two-year anniversary of her surgery – a popular time for celebrating new life in the Carr family.

– Chris P

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