Before & After Bariatric Surgery: Three Inspirational Weight Loss Stories


When you’ve got one hundred or more pounds to lose, it can be difficult to believe it will ever be possible. These amazing before-and-after transformations prove that it can be done successfully and safely, with bariatric surgery.

Tonia’s Story

At 439 pounds, Tonia Harper-Grobes, a 46-year-old mother of two, was in poor health and getting worse. By November 2012, she had been in the hospital four times for asthma and complications related to congestive heart failure. Just walking a few yards or standing to wash dishes had become strenuous.

After meeting several other women who had undergone bariatric surgery, Tonia decided to look into the Penn Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program. Even before her sleeve gastrectomy in May 2013, she had lost 15 pounds through the healthier eating habits she learned from Penn’s dieticians. Tonia took advantage of “everything Penn had to offer” from support groups to physical therapists, to post-op appointments with her team.  To date Tonia has lost 130 pounds, and joined a gym (!) where she uses the treadmill and recumbent bike.

Today, she is off most of her medication she had previously used to control her weight-related health problems.  In fact, she has inspired her daughter and husband to also adopt healthier lifestyles too.


Bruce’s Story

By the time Bruce Sachais was 44, his weight had led to a host of health problems including gastric reflux disease and sleep apnea. His blood pressure and cholesterol levels were through the roof, and he had trouble walking without back pain. Even his fingers had gotten too large for his wedding band.

Finally, Bruce decided to attend one of the Penn Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program’s free information sessions. In March 2011, he had roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery and has since lost more than 132 pounds to date. He now has the energy to take the stairs and even runs regularly. Best of all, every one of his former health issues disappeared with the weight—and his wedding band fits again!


Robyn’s Story

Robyn Irving hit her breaking point at her granddaughter’s junior high graduation, when her nearly 400-pound body was too large for any of the regular guest seats. Just one week later, her doctor handed the 58-year-old healthcare worker a frightening diagnosis: Her blood pressure was dangerously high, and she was borderline diabetic.

A conversation with a co-worker who had gastric bypass surgery at Penn Medicine prompted Robyn to make an appointment for a consultation. She underwent her own bypass surgery in January 2012, and after losing more than 150 pounds, her blood pressure is back to normal and she’s no longer pre-diabetic.

Now, the same woman who was once too large to fasten her seatbelt has discovered that she loves walking, line dancing, Zumba classes, and working out at the gym with her daughter!

For more information about weight-loss surgery, sign up for a free Information Session with the Penn Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program.