FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Weight-loss surgery is often the last option for people who've tried everything else. A procedure with dramatic results is offering promise to many, and doctors say it's safer than gastric bypass surgery.
Kris Bruce of Visalia can enjoy the simple pleasures of life, now that her life isn't her weight.
"I went from 245 to 140. I went from a size 18 to a 20 in the women's sizes, and then my normal clothes is a 5/6, depending on what I'm getting," Kris said.
Growing up, Kris was always one of the heaviest kids in her class. She lost some weight at the end of high school but the pounds always came back.
"I've tried the exercises. I've tried the liquid shakes. I've tried the pills. I've tried the shots," she said.
But then came a goal Kris was determined to reach: to trim down for her wedding. She hired a personal trainer for the whole family and followed a strict diet.
"I watched my husband lose weight. I watched my stepson lose weight. I watched my daughter lose weight. And I was gaining weight," Kris said.
Kris' weight led to other health problems over the years, including varicose veins that caused major swelling in one of her legs and ankles. She had high cholesterol and her knees were giving out. So she went to Fresno bariatric surgeon Dr. Daniel Swartz to explore her options.
"For 95 percent of people with morbid obesity, surgery is the only effective treatment, the only thing that leads to permanent and significant weight loss," Dr. Swartz said.
Dr. Swartz told her about the gastric bypass and the gastrectomy, or gastric sleeve. Kris researched both options and decided to have the less invasive gastric sleeve.
"I went through a lot of Web pages and a lot of testimonials and the pros, the cons, and I decided that I didn't want the rerouting, and this was what I want to do," Kris said.
According to Dr. Swartz, gastric sleeves are becoming such a preferred option that half of bariatric surgeries performed are the sleeve, instead of the bypass. The reason is simple.
"It is popular because it's very safe. It's got a very low potential for risks and complications, and it's very effective," Dr. Swartz said.
Gastric sleeve surgery takes about an hour to an hour and a half. The hospital stay for a sleeve is usually a day or two. The recovery time is about 2 weeks -- the same as gastric bypass but there's a major difference.
"Whereas the gastric bypass involves two divisions and two connections of the gut, this operation involves one staple line and removing the outer two thirds of the stomach without any connections," Dr. Swartz said.
The surgery shrunk her body and boosted her confidence.
"Now, I'm getting involved in community events. I'm getting involved in more things. I'm not afraid to walk up to somebody and just say hi and shake their hand; I would have never done that before," Kris said.
Kris is now at her ideal weight, and slipping into the fitted jeans and cowboy boots she's always dreamed of wearing. She thinks about what she eats now, since her stomach can't handle more than a salad plate portion of food. She's careful not to overindulge, for fear she will stretch out her stomach.
Kris celebrated her 50th birthday 105 pounds lighter and is now working to iron out a few wrinkles -- the finishing touches on her transformation.
"Botox, just having this little bit is going to really, really just turn back so many years for her, because she doesn't have loose skin," said Dr. Uma Rao with Modern Aesthetics.
Ready to face life now -- happy and healthy.
"It's just been a tremendous blessing to have this," Kris said.