Weight Loss Success Stories

Meet some patients whose lives were changed by weight loss programs at UC San Diego Health.

Weight Loss Surgery — Patient Story

Thanks to the weight-loss experts at UC San Diego Health’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, Jose Lopez was able to lower his total body weight by more than 50 percent — going from 378 pounds to 176 pounds — in just 12 months.

Jose, 29, underwent gastric sleeve surgery, a 1.5-hour procedure that reduces the stomach to roughly the dimension and shape of a banana, about 20 percent of the stomach’s original size. This promotes weight loss by limiting how much food can be eaten.

Jose's weight-loss team included surgeons Santiago Horgan, MD, and Garth Jacobsen, MD, bariatric patient coordinator Natalie Cook, registered dietitian Jill Fisher, MS, RD, nurse practitioner Mary Kirk, and internist Eduardo Grunvald, MD.

Jose started to lose control of his weight toward the end of high school. He bounced from one fad diet to the next for over a decade, trying everything from cutting out carbs to juice fasting. As a result of the extra weight, his blood pressure rose to an unhealthy level. He also developed sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous sleep disorder in which you have one or more pauses in your breathing while you sleep.

Jose had not considered bariatric surgery until a fellow coworker encouraged him to contact our Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. After a thorough assessment with the BMI team that included an endoscopy, X-rays and esophageal manometry, he was approved for the gastric sleeve procedure.

Before he could undergo surgery, Jose had to go on a liquids-only diet for 30 days to decrease the risk of complications and reduce the fat in his liver. Jose recalls that month as the hardest thing he has ever had to do. “After the first week of broth, Jell-O and protein shakes, I was ready to call it quits,” he said. Fortunately, Jose had a great support team at home to cheer him on. “They wouldn’t even eat in front of me. They knew how hard it was. They did everything they could to help me get through it.”

Jose also had great supporters at UC San Diego Health. “I met with Jill Fisher every week during my liquid diet. She helped motivate me and keep me on track,” he said. When the day of surgery arrived, Jose was 27 pounds lighter. “Post-op recovery was a piece of cake. I was back to work in a week.” Immediately following the procedure, he was able to stop taking his blood pressure medicine. Soon after, his sleep apnea went away.

“I know now what it feels like to feel full — it’s a feeling I never had before!” His smaller appetite has naturally led him to eat healthier, less-filling foods. “I’m a big foodie! So rather than filling up on bread, I’ll choose lean meats, vegetables or fruits — foods that I can eat more of.”

Positive attention from friends, family, coworkers and even strangers has given Jose a confidence he never had before. He depicts himself before surgery as a quiet, somewhat shy person who disliked being the center of attention. He has been surprised to discover that he had an outgoing side all along. “I’m even in a relationship!” he says, beaming. “Things are going really well for me. This procedure has changed my life in every way; it was a huge blessing. I’m so glad I didn’t wait any longer to have it done.”

Jose is enjoying every minute in his new body. He exercises regularly and continues to drink protein shakes. He has become an advocate for his friends and family who struggle with weight. “I’ve recommended this surgery to two other friends who already went and had it done!”

Weight Management Program — Patient Stories

Letters from Patients

Here are the stories of some of our patients who benefitted from UC San Diego Health's Nonsurgical Weight Loss Program.

Learn More About Nonsurgical Weight Loss Program


A Center of Excellence

Our Bariatric and Metabolic Institute is a fully accredited bariatric surgery center in the American College of Surgeons Bariatric Surgery Center Network (ACS BSCN), meeting the highest standards for patient safety and quality. This designation means you get safe, effective and high-quality weight loss surgeries and care at UC San Diego Health.