A former TV beautician says weight loss surgery saved her life and helped her look glamorous again after shedding 10 stone – nearly half her body weight.
Businesswoman and guest house owner Amanda Harkins underwent a gastric bypass procedure at Spire Yale Hospital, Wrexham.
According to Amanda, Spire Yale consultant surgeon Andrew Baker is her all time hero.
Just 12 months on from the four hour bypass, she is down from more than 24 stones to a little over 14 stones.
Amanda, 45, and husband Mike run the four star Grove Guest House in Chester Road South, Wrexham, and she previously worked as a beautician on the Channel 4 reality show, The Salon.
She opted for the surgery in a bid to halt the onset of obesity related disease in future years.
Amanda said: “Good health is priceless. I’ll be forever grateful to Mr Baker and all the team at Spire Yale. They’ve saved my life and I don’t say that lightly – without their help I honestly don’t think I would have had much chance of reaching 50.”
Five feet, seven inches tall Amanda said: “I feel like a new woman, I’ve got my life back and most importantly I’ve got my health back.
“I haven’t felt so good for years. I’m far more active, with loads more energy and it’s given me renewed confidence. Even waking up and getting out of bed each morning is so much more carefree.”
She added: “The weight loss, coupled with a more nutritious eating plan, drastically reduces my chances of contracting illnesses like diabetes, heart problems and sleep apnea.
“Before I lost the weight I used to snore heavily and I had breathing difficulties, especially climbing stairs or walking any more than a short distance. Now I sleep a lot more soundly and getting about is much easier.
“I wouldn’t hesitate for one minute to recommend the procedure to anyone who, like me, has struggled with their weight for so many years.”
Amanda used to love trying out the latest clothes fashions but as her weight increased she stopped going out shopping and only bought clothes online.
Now having lost inches as well as pounds she has come down several dress sizes and has given all her bigger plus-size clothes away.
She said: “Some even still had the labels on as I would buy them and never wear them because I had lost so much confidence. But now I can’t wait to get out to the shops and treat myself to a whole new wardrobe.”
Before opting for surgery Amanda tried an array of diets but whenever she lost weight she always regained it after a few months.
She said: “Sometimes I would put back on even more than I had lost. I tried so hard, but none of the diets worked long term for me. I would try to put on a brave front and pretend I wasn’t bothered, but underneath it all, as my weight was spiralling out of control, I was seriously concerned for my health.
“This time I know there is no going back, the weight loss is for life and that is a really good feeling.”
She had considered a gastric bypass for about two years before consulting the specialist team at Spire Yale.
She said: “I talked about it with my husband – he has been my rock and always stood by me no matter how much weight I put on. I visited some different hospitals seeking advice but it wasn’t until we moved to Wrexham and my GP made me aware of Spire Yale that I decided this was the time to act. The team was so reassuring and from the moment I met Mr Baker I felt confident he could help me.”
Mr Baker specialises in weight loss surgery as well as gastro intestinal conditions and disorders of the upper digestive tract.
He said: “On meeting Amanda it was immediately clear that her commitment to fighting her obesity was undiminished, despite her having unsuccessfully tried a number of diets in the past.
“Importantly, she recognised the dangers of being morbidly obese and the adverse, potentially life threatening impact it could have on her future health.
“In consultation with my team we concluded that a gastric bypass would be the best way to help her. The procedure went well and the results have been very rewarding for us all to see. Amanda has lost a substantial amount of weight, and is completely dedicated to following a nutritional eating plan.
“Her self-esteem has improved and her energy levels have significantly increased in line with the weight loss. Whenever she visits Spire Yale now she always arrives with a beaming smile on her face and the staff look forward to seeing her.”
At the same time as the bypass surgery Amanda also had her gall bladder removed as she had been diagnosed as suffering from gall stones.
She said: “They could be very painful so it was decided to do the two operations together which was a double blessing as I no longer have all the discomfort they caused. It has been a completely life changing year for me.”
After the operation although she was given advice on sticking to a nutritional diet Amanda was not banned from eating any particular foods.
She said: “I can eat all the same foods as anyone else but I just have much smaller portions nowadays. I will usually have cereal for breakfast or a piece of toast, maybe a yoghurt and half a cheese sandwich for lunch, then for tea perhaps a small portion of fresh fish and some vegetables or salad. And because I get full quicker I find that I don’t crave deserts, sweets or chocolate anymore. If I do feel like a snack I might have a few nuts or a handful of raisins.”
Amanda and Mike took over the Grove Guest House two years ago. They have refurbished the premises and turned it into a thriving business offering 19 guest rooms.
She said: “We just love it here. We were living in the Cotswolds before this and it was very pretty but it didn’t compare to Wrexham for friendliness.
“Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful since we moved here, and it’s been nonstop for the guest house with events like the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, and with the Glyndwr University campus and theatre so nearby, we regularly get booked up.
“That means it’s all go for me as I tend to look after the running of the guest house, from manning the reception to doing the breakfast orders, so I have to be up and at it early each day. Since I lost the weight I find it so much easier getting going in a morning and I can get through the business chores a lot faster. I’ve also stopped snacking, which saves on time too,” she laughed.