Alessandra Martinez has struggled with her weight her whole life. She has tried various diets, from Weight Watchers to the ketogenic (keto) program. At one point, she managed to lose more than 60 pounds, only to gain it all back after the birth of her two sons.
At her heaviest, Martinez weighed 286 pounds, and was diagnosed with high blood pressure by the time she was 34-years-old. Her weight also caused other health problems, including back pain and shortness of breath.
“I would be out of breath just playing with my kids,” said Martinez, who lives in Homestead. “I needed help getting off the floor when I was playing with them in our living room. I knew something had to change.”
The need for change became more apparent when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Martinez knew she was in greater danger of becoming hospitalized or dying from the virus if she was exposed.
“The pandemic really scared me,” Martinez said. “Dieting was no longer enough.”
With the support of her family, she decided to explore the possibility of undergoing gastric sleeve surgery. She met with several doctors, but could not find the right fit. Through a social media community group, she came across Irving Miranda, MD, a bariatric surgeon at Jackson West Medical Center. After just one meeting, she knew Dr. Miranda was the physician for her.
“Dr. Miranda was very thorough, and he spent time answering my questions and breaking down the process until I was comfortable with what I was signing up for,” Martinez said. “He listened to my story and understood that I was doing the surgery to be a better mom for my children.”
She added that while the state-of-the-art facilities at Jackson West were wonderful, the staff is what won her over.
“They always remembered me,” Martinez said. “You aren’t just a number; they are both personable and professional.”
Dr. Miranda pointed out that most of his patients are like Martinez, who have tried every diet plan and keep gaining the weight back.
“When patients come to me, they want a more permanent solution to their weight battle,” Dr. Miranda said. “They have tried multiple diets, medications, and exercises, with some hurting themselves physically or emotionally in the process, which makes matters worse.”
This surgery required Martinez’s full commitment and dedication. She met with a nutritionist to prepare her for her new eating habits, as well as a psychologist for additional support.
“It’s a huge lifestyle change. You have to put in the work,” Martinez added. “It’s a tool, not a magic potion.”
Her successful surgery took place in October 2021. Eight weeks after her operation, Martinez could see the difference in her day-to-day life, and within a few weeks, she gradually came off her blood pressure medication.
Dr. Miranda highlighted that gastric sleeve surgery can give patients a new lease on life, given that obesity is linked to many other health problems, such as asthma, reflux, arthritis, diabetes, and sleep apnea.
“Bariatric surgery is one of the best tools we have that can help individuals achieve drastic weight loss,” Dr. Miranda added. “Patients often tell me they feel reborn. It’s one of the most amazing surgeries, and I am privileged to be able to perform it.”
Martinez, 35, has lost 103 pounds and is now focused on her future, exercising more frequently and continuing to find inspiration in others.
“A lot of people tell me to be careful as they know people who gained the weight back,” she said. “But being able to find others who have gone through this journey and are a few years out, keeps me motivated and positive that I can continue to not only lose the weight, but keep it off.”