After completing seven years of service in the United States Marine Corps and becoming a new mom, Jess Wilson had a lot to be proud of. Instead, her gradual weight gain since giving birth left her feeling uncomfortable in her own skin and even a bit depressed. She was also managing some health conditions, including hypothyroidism, which makes it harder to lose weight; insulin resistance; and, back and joint pain resulting from degenerative disc disease. This pain made regular exercise (and thus, weight loss) harder for Jess.
“I had always been really healthy and lean before my pregnancy,” explained Jess, now 33 and a native of Pittsburgh, PA. “But after my son was born, I stopped exercising and started gaining the weight. I got depressed in my life and just didn’t feel like myself anymore.”
Jess tried diet pills, a breast augmentation, and liposuction, but nothing worked in terms of motivating her to truly change her lifestyle and feel better about herself. Living in Jacksonville, NC, at the time, Jess began to research different weight loss options online. When she came across the ORBERA® intragastric balloon weight loss program, something clicked.
“My liposuction experience was intense,” Jess reflected. “I was in so much pain for three days after surgery that I couldn’t even sleep. When I realized the ORBERA balloon didn’t involve surgery and the painful side effects that come with surgery, I wanted to learn more.”
She learned that a quick, non-invasive procedure followed by six months with the ORBERA balloon could provide faster, more sustainable weight loss results. In April 2019, Jess booked a virtual consultation with Dr. Christopher McGowan—whose office in Cary, NC, was just 2.5 hours from her home in Jacksonville. After her consultation, Jess was convinced that ORBERA was right for her. She booked her procedure for just a month later—and started to get excited about her future for the first time in a long time.
“Dr. McGowan put my mind at ease, and his team was so supportive through the entire process,” Jess explains. “They checked up on me every step of the way—texting me and taking my calls anytime day or night. We’ve stayed connected and I know they’re always available to help me stay on track.”
In June 2019, Jess walked into WakeMed Cary Hospital in Cary, NC, for her ORBERA procedure. She weighed 185 pounds at the time and was excited for the journey ahead. Her procedure was finished early in the morning and Jess had a friend drive her straight home afterward. While Jess struggled with nausea over the next few days, Dr. McGowan and the team stay connected and guided her through the recovery process—adjusting her medications and encouraging her to get IV fluids for dehydration. By about the sixth day, Jess started to feel much better and was headed back to work after another few days.
In her first two weeks following the procedure, Jess lost an impressive 20 pounds. This rapid weight loss is what inspired her to lose more weight and make the changes necessary to live a healthier, more active life.
“ORBERA was the kickstart I needed to change my life,” explained Jess. “That big jump of losing 20 pounds fast made all the difference for me. But while ORBERA is a great resource and a great alternative to weight loss surgery, it is a tool, not the solution. It’s about changing your mindset and the way you see food to make it work effectively.”
Jess has experienced significant life changes since ORBERA. She lost a total of 45 pounds, transforming her body from a size 10 to a size 4/6. Portion control, a healthy diet of grains and lean protein, and setting a time limit for evening meals and snacks have helped her maintain her new weight. Jess has also relocated to an area outside of San Diego, CA, where she stays very active and exercises regularly.
“I joke that San Diego is like The Land of the Pretty People, and for once, I feel like I can fit in,” laughed Jess. “I’m really enjoying the California sun and lifestyle—especially now that I’m feeling better about myself and my body.”
With increased energy and stamina, Jess is now eager to try new things. She uses the boardwalk near her home to run or walk for six miles daily, and she also enjoys hiking, swimming, and paddleboarding. Additionally, the symptoms of Jess’s insulin resistance, degenerative disc disease (back and joint pain), and depression have all improved. She has regained her self-confidence and has more energy to keep up with her son, who is now five years old. They spend a lot of time being active together outside, which is very important to Jess. And, she is excited to start nursing school in the spring after already completing her degree in medical aesthetics earlier this year.
“I feel amazing, finally comfortable in my own skin,” reflected Jess. “I would absolutely recommend ORBERA to others who are considering their weight loss options. When you combine ORBERA with a will to succeed, the results will follow. It’s been such a great journey.”