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Success Stories

Every day, we’re inspired watching our patients take charge of their health and their lives, and are privileged to help guide that transformation


Vance TestimonialAs much as he loves music, Vance’s weight was getting in the way of his ability to perform. For one thing, he was afraid the stool he sat on during the sets wouldn’t hold him.

So, there he was, somewhere between 405 and 410 pounds, and Vance’s biggest worry was that he was looking old. Never mind that he had severe sleep apnea and “raised the roof” when he snored. Forget that he was taking insulin twice a day for diabetes, and medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Finally, his wife became the voice of reality. She asked him if he’d rather have age or life. He agreed she had a point.


Lisa TestimonialLisa didn’t like going out to eat with her family. She was always afraid they’d seat her in a booth–and she wouldn’t fit. At her highest weight, she was 330 pounds.

When she went to bed at night, she’d worry about not getting up. Her fear was that her heart would stop and her body would shut down because of her weight.

At some point, she decided not to live this way any longer.


Lauren TestimonialIt’s never fun to struggle with weight. But in middle school and high school it’s even harder. There are no cute clothes that come in a size 28. Lauren’s weight held her back from too many things. She made every excuse possible to not go out with her friends.

Yet she was so surprised when her doctor suggested gastric bypass surgery, she cried. She didn’t realize she was “that big”…because when she looked in the mirror, she saw someone else.


Gerald Testimonial Before Gerald had weight-loss surgery, his life and health were very different. Forty-nine years old, a financial planner, and single parent of three active teens. Gerald wasn’t as active as he wanted to be. At 259, he was frustrated with the limitations being overweight had put on his life. Even worse, he was worried that poor health could keep him from things he longed to do. Then he made the decision that changed his life. Not once, but twice.

First, he decided to attend a seminar put on by The Center for Surgical Weight Loss at Lake Norman. It was there he decided it was time to take back his life, and he had weight-loss surgery in October 2007.


Ashley Testimonial Before Ashley had weight loss surgery, she wanted nothing more than to sleep on the couch when she got home from work.

Not what you’d expect from a professional, barely-past-her-twenties newlywed. A life-long stuggle with her weight had left her nothing short of miserable. She was on diabetes medication and she was always tired. Tired of living with limitations, scared about her health, and then she got a sign.

Michelle Sierzega, RMA, Center for Surgical Weight Loss at Lake Norman

Michelle Testimonial After being told by her primary care physician in 2011 that she was borderline diabetic with elevated cholesterol, Michelle Sierzega, then 320 pounds, knew she had to take control of her life and her health.

“I’d been dieting my whole life, and I would lose and then gain,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t continue on that way.”

Sierzega said she felt “very insecure” about her looks and tired all the time. She was also concerned because she had a family history of diabetes and did not want to be diagnosed.

“I hated that I couldn’t do a lot of physical activities with my children because I was exhausted,” she said.

After working for The Center for Surgical Weight Loss at Lake Norman as a Registered Medical Assistant for a few years, Sierzega said she watched patients go through weight loss surgery and realized it was safe and possibly the right choice for her. She attended an educational seminar with Dr. Ryan Heider and decided to go through with a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, which removes a portion of the patient’s stomach and limits how much they can eat.

“After the educational seminar, I also had to have a nutrition consultation, a psychological evaluation, attend a support group, have an endoscopy and go on an Opti-Fast diet two weeks before the surgery,” she said.

Sierzega said that before the surgery, she felt “both nervous and excited.”

“I knew I was ready to do it,” she said.

Sierzega had her surgery in January 2012 and after the surgery, she realized that her work wasn’t finished.

“Surgery is not a quick fix,” she said. “You still have to eat healthier, with smaller portions and making sure you get enough protein and water. You also have to exercise on a regular basis.”

Tiffany Hinson, RN, CBN Bariatric Nurse Navigator with The Center for Surgical Weight Loss at Lake Norman said that many of her patients come to the same realization.

“It’s a lifestyle change,” said Hinson. “I tell them that it’s no different from a treadmill that’s sitting in your spare bedroom. The surgery is a tool and if you don’t use it appropriately, it won’t help you lose weight.”

Sierzega added that she struggles with getting enough water at times, and it’s one of her biggest challenges after surgery.

“I feel so full when I drink water and then I’m not hungry when it’s time to eat due to the water intake,” she explained.

However, despite that challenge, she has been pleased with the success of her surgery.

“Before I had the surgery, I had a weight goal in mind, and when I grew closer to that goal, I knew I could exceed it,” she said happily.

“A lot of our patients start to see changes even before surgery, because of the Opti-Fast diet, which can last two to four weeks,” said Hinson. “They typically lose about 10 percent of their body weight and they get in good spirits because they know change is on the way. After the surgery, the weight continues to fall off and most people lose a large portion of what they will lose in the first six months.”

Overall, Sierzega has lost 185 pounds and has taken up running, something she says she’d always wanted to do, but couldn’t before because of her weight.

“My stepmother and a friend from work run and they always seemed to really enjoy it,” she said. “With the Color Run coming to Concord later that year, I started training with the Couch to 5K app.”

The Color Run was Sierzega’s first 5K but it hasn’t been her last race. She is currently training for her first half and full marathon. She said she’s continued running because it’s “a great way to relieve stress and clear your mind.”

Sierzega was recently able to go and have excess skin removed from her abdomen and that her next surgery will be to have the excess skin removed from her thighs. She said she loves having more energy now and feeling healthier.

“I also love shopping now because there is so much more to choose from in my size and I feel more confident,” she said. “This surgery was the best decision I have ever made for myself and I wish I had done it sooner.”

Written by Megan Sprague, The Mooresville Tribune, July 15, 2015

We invite you to share in their bariatric surgery stories – and remember you too can have life-changing success. For more information or to register for a free seminar, 1-888-995-6762 (888-99LNRMC).

Patient results may vary. Consult your physician about the benefits and risks of any surgical procedure or treatment.

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