Weight loss surgery a game changer for tennis player

A woman who had weight loss surgery stands on a tennis court holding a ball and racquet while smiling. Text reads "Winning at weight loss"

Caroline started playing tennis as a kid always loved the game. But as her weight climbed with each year, she grew increasingly uncomfortable on the court and in her body.

Chasing the ball and hitting winning shots got harder and harder. Caroline didn’t have the energy to play singles matches and had to switch to doubles instead. She also started to feel self-conscious about going out in public because of her weight.

At her heaviest, the mom of three weighed more than 300 pounds. She tried several weight loss plans, but none of them worked long term.

Caroline knew she had to make a change when she was put on prediabetes medication at age 39. When her doctor suggested weight loss surgery, Caroline scheduled a consultation at Baptist Center for Bariatric Surgery.

“I was nervous and I was also embarrassed, but the staff made me feel comfortable,” Morris said. “The program helps you every step of the way. You get a binder with everything -- it tells you what you can expect, it contains your nutrition plan - it was all laid out for me.”

Caroline was a good candidate for a sleeve gastrectomy. With this procedure, stomach size is reduced by about 80 percent, leaving a banana-shaped sleeve. The portion of the stomach that produces ghrelin -- the “hunger hormone” -- is removed.

To qualify for weight loss surgery, patients must have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40, or higher than 35 with weight-related medical issues. Attempted weight loss through behavioral modification or medical treatment and a commitment to long-term lifestyle changes are also requirements.

Steven Hodgett, MD, at Baptist Bariatrics, performed the surgery on a Thursday. Caroline spent one night in the hospital and was back at work the following Monday.

“Dr. Hodgett was very kind and clearly explained everything. I felt confident with him from day one -- he was phenomenal,” said Caroline. “From start to finish, the entire staff was kind, patient and very accommodating.”

Since having surgery, Caroline’s life has changed drastically. She lost 100 pounds and got to ditch the diabetes medication. She’s racing around on the tennis court playing singles, and her size no longer weighs heavy on her mind.

“It’s the little things that people don’t think about, like not having to use a seatbelt extender on an airplane, being able to go on rides at Disney World because the band will come down over your lap, and being able to wear normal-sized clothes,” said Caroline.

Caroline has always been active with her kids, but now she has much more energy and models healthy behavior for them.

“Now my daughters see the healthier, better version of me, instead of the mom who was depressed and didn’t want to go out because of her weight,” said Caroline. “I just wish I had done the surgery sooner. I really feel like I got my life back.”