At her heaviest, Christina Mandeville — a mother of three — weighed 350 pounds and suffered from multiple ailments. That was before the UF Health team helped her dramatically turn her life around.
As a nurse, Mandeville is naturally devoted to caring for others. However, the 34-year-old Branford resident was slow to realize she was neglecting her own health.
She eventually found herself anchored at a weight that was unbearable. She needed a lifeline.
“I have three kids (ages 15, 13 and 11), and it was just getting to the point where I couldn’t do anything with them,” Christina said. “I was miserable, my body hurt all the time, and I was always tired. I was very depressed. I needed a change.”
Luckily, Mandeville knew she could turn to UF Health, where her family had received care in the past.
“They’ve always treated us well,” she shared.
Mandeville said she was desperate to get down to a manageable weight. Her journey took her through several procedures coordinated between multiple departments at UF Health. Her first surgery in 2016 was performed at the UF Health Bariatric Surgery Center by Jeffrey Friedman, M.D., FACS, a UF College of Medicine professor of general surgery and director of bariatric surgery. Friedman informed Mandeville that Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery was her best option to change how her digestive system handles food.
With this technique, the stomach is divided into a small pouch the size of an egg and the small bowel is divided and connected to this new stomach pouch. This significantly limits the amount that you can comfortably eat and drink at one time. The small intestine is then cut a short distance below the main stomach and connected to the new pouch.
Food flows directly from the pouch into this part of the intestine while the main part of the stomach continues to make digestive juices. The portion of the intestine still attached to the main stomach is reattached farther down, allowing those digestive juices to flow to the small intestine.
The surgery was a great success. Mandeville, who weighed 309 pounds at the time of the procedure, now weighs 160 pounds.
“Christina had a BMI (body mass index) over 50 prior to her Roux-en-Y gastric bypass,” Friedman said. “She did great from this operation and lost nearly 150 pounds, achieved a normal BMI and had resolution of multiple comorbidities in the first year after her operation.”
Mandeville was back at work within a week without complications, but her journey wasn’t over yet.
She had two standard follow-up procedures by surgeon Bruce Mast, M.D., a UF College of Medicine professor and chief of plastic surgery with the UF Health Plastic Surgery and Aesthetics Center. She underwent a lower body lift with abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, and then plastic surgery to transform her upper body, including her arms and breasts.
“I can get out and run around with my kids, and I sleep so much better,” she said. “My body doesn’t hurt. I used to have a lot of hip pain and foot pain and back pain and everything else, but I don’t have that anymore. I feel a million times better.