Inspira Health announced today that its bariatric surgery programs at Inspira Medical Centers...Read More
Shelly Voros was no stranger to life’s challenges - or operating rooms - when she decided to have bariatric surgery to help her lose weight and improve her overall health.
“When I was 13 years old, I stepped off the school bus,” she said. “A driver sped past it and hit me. A friend pulled me back at the last second or I would’ve been killed. My leg was decimated. I had more than twenty surgeries, including nerve grafts, skin grafts, tendon transfers, you name it.”
Her parents had been told that she could lose her leg and she might not walk again.
“That scared me enough to fight back,” Shelly said.
Shelly’s leg was saved, and she did indeed walk again. But the pain and trauma in the years that followed made many everyday tasks difficult. Still, she went on to a career as a medical assistant and then a licensed practical nurse (LPN). She married her husband, Tony, in 2004 and they had a daughter, Grace.
With an increasing set of physical challenges, coupled with the rigors of being a first-time parent, Shelly’s pain worsened and she started to put on weight.
“After I had Grace, I was not able to move well enough to continue working as an LPN,” she said. “I had back problems and headaches. The more weight I gained, the worse my depression and social anxiety became. I didn’t want to go out into the world and be seen.”
Shelly tried many different diets, with some success, but the weight loss never lasted. When she hit her highest weight of 379 pounds in March 2022, she knew she had to do something different.
“In all honesty, I think I was just waiting to die,” she said. “I was in so much pain. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t leave my house.”
She talked to her primary care provider, Jay Malickel, D.O., Inspira Medical Group, and he suggested she consider bariatric surgery.
Shelly researched her options and chose Inspira’s Christopher Bashian, D.O., who is fellowship trained in bariatric and minimally invasive surgery. Dr. Bashian is a lifelong resident of south Jersey, who also trained in the state and completed his general surgery residency at Inspira.
“I wasn’t sure I’d be a good candidate,” Shelly said. “But I went through the assessment and they told me that I was basically healthy, other than my weight, so I went for it.”
Dr. Bashian recommended a sleeve gastrectomy, or gastric sleeve surgery; a minimally invasive procedure done robotically, in which a surgeon removes 70 percent of a patient’s stomach. This restricts the amount of food that a patient can consume.
“Once I made the decision, it was like a switch flipped in my brain. I got up off the couch and started walking. I lost 15 pounds on my own before the surgery,” she said.
Shelly had the procedure in July 2022 and was pleased that her recovery began exactly as her care team had prepared her to expect.
“I was up, walking around and drinking [sips of] water almost immediately,” she said. “I had very little pain. Nothing acetaminophen couldn’t handle. You wouldn’t even know I had surgery. There is almost no scar.”
Shelly said she recognized the importance of a personal support system, and a health care team that instills confidence, in her success.
“Tony always told me I could do it, but he knew I had to be ready in my own head. Grace is so proud of me for sticking with it,” she said. “And Dr. Bashian is the only surgeon who I’ve ever met who sits down, talks to you, and waits to see if you have questions. He answered all of mine. He told me to call if I had more. He’s so cool. Nicest guy I’ve met in my life. Even now, he always seems excited to see me.”
Shelly, who began her journey at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill, and had her surgery at Inspira Medical Center Vineland, said that her bariatric program coordinators, Bradee Rojas, M.S. and Tiffany Lilly, M.S. were also key to her success.
“Bradee is the best cheerleader ever,” she said. “She’s super helpful. Tiffany was very good too. My nutritionist, Carmen Garcia, R.D., was very gentle in dealing with me to devise a diet plan. The nurses at both places were amazing. I’d never experienced health care like that!”
As of summer 2023, Shelly has lost 180 pounds. She is back to working - at a job that involves plenty of movement - as a nanny to two-year-old triplets!
“Now when Tony and Grace go out anywhere, I make sure I go along,” Shelly said. “I coach rec soccer and now I can run around with the kids! I can’t believe this is me. I can’t believe I go to a gym! I told Tony that he never has to get me gifts because I gave myself a life.”
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