Bariatric and Weight Loss Surgery in Rhode Island
Lifespan Weight Loss Services

Weight Loss Success Stories

Meet patients who have successfully lost weight, kept it off, and changed their lives.

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The Butterfly Effect

Bariatric weight loss surgery can result in profound, positive changes across multiple facets of a person’s life – a phenomenon known as the butterfly effect. Read the following patients’ stories to see how bariatric surgery helped transform their lives.

Dave - The Road to Renewal

Dave Sousa, before and after bariatric weight loss surgery.
Dave Sousa, before and after bariatric weight loss surgery.

It is the little things in life that stand out most to Dave Sousa after his bariatric surgery – being able to buy clothes in any store, to incorporate color into his wardrobe, to take long walks with his dogs, to not worry about sitting in booths when eating in restaurants with his family. These seemingly minor changes, however, symbolize a much larger, deeply personal victory in Sousa's life after undergoing bariatric surgery at the Center for Bariatric Surgery.

Under the expert care of Beth Ann Ryder, MD, the program director for the Center for Bariatric Surgery, Sousa embarked on a transformation that would not only alter his physical appearance but reshape his approach to life itself. Dr. Ryder and her team provided not just medical intervention but a foundation for sustainable lifestyle changes.

“My life is so, so different as a result of it, and I am so incredibly grateful for making the decision," Sousa shares, his gratitude extending to the life he's reclaimed. Before the surgery, activities like going to the beach were marred by self-consciousness and discomfort. Now, he eagerly anticipates such outings with his wife, embracing experiences once avoided.

The support from the Center for Bariatric Surgery team, including dieticians, has been instrumental in Sousa's post-operative care, guiding him through dietary adjustments and lifestyle changes. "The surgery is not a magic pill," he said. "You really do have to change your thinking, and you have to change your lifestyle."

Today, Sousa views food as fuel, finding satisfaction in healthier alternatives that cater to his cravings without compromising his progress, like the recent discovery of a sugar free alternative of his favorite candy – black jelly beans. His transformation is a testament to the power of personal commitment, the expertise of his medical team, and the life-altering potential of bariatric surgery.

"If it wasn’t for the surgery, I would still be 400 pounds trying to figure out how to lose the weight," Sousa said. Thanks to his decision to undergo surgery at the Center for Bariatric Surgery and the comprehensive support he received, Dave Sousa not only lost weight but gained an entirely new outlook on life.

Christina - A Transformation Beyond Just Physical Health

Christina Pimentel Puckett, before and after bariatric surgery
Christina Pimentel Puckett, before and after bariatric weight loss surgery.

When Christina Pimentel Puckett runs around the playground with her children, she is not simply being a good mom. She is doing something that seemed almost impossible to her a few years ago. Through the Center for Bariatric Surgery, Christina flew down on a path that not only reshaped her body but also revitalized her health, spirit, and daily experiences. Her story exemplifies the butterfly effect of bariatric surgery—a single decision that set off a cascade of positive changes across multiple facets of her life.

Since having bariatric surgery, Puckett has lost an astonishing 175 pounds post-surgery and witnessed numerous improvements in her health, including improving her thyroid disease and erasing the knee and hip pain that once plagued her due to the extra weight she carried.

However, the transformation did not stop at physical health. Her journey brought about a big change in her personal life, especially in her role as a mother to her young children. 

“I am able to now do so much with my 4- and 5-year-old children," said Puckett. "I can go to the park and swing on the swings, ride rides at theme parks with them, jump at the trampoline park, etc. I can now run and chase them and have almost the same energy that they have!"

In addition to changing her appearance, the effects of the surgery have impacted her self-confidence and helped her reclaim a joy in activities as simple as shopping, which once felt daunting. The mental shift, however, was not instantaneous, requiring her to consciously move beyond old mindsets to fully embrace her new reality.

“I feel like I have become a different person since having surgery; a better person," said Puckett.  "My attitude towards myself and how I feel about myself has improved tremendously.  I now have the self-confidence I always longed to have and others now come to me for guidance and support with their own personal weight loss journeys.”

The support system provided by the Center, including the online Facebook support group and regular check-ins with nutritionists, has been pivotal in maintaining her weight loss and continuing the healthy habits she has learned. Puckett's daily routine now includes early morning runs or elliptical workouts, followed by weightlifting.

Looking ahead, Puckett is excited about the future. "I am looking forward to continuing to live my life with my children and enjoy all of the activities I never was really able to do before," she said.

Christina Pimentel Puckett's journey through bariatric surgery with the Center for Bariatric Surgery exemplifies the butterfly effect—a single decision that initiated a ripple of positive changes, improving not just her physical health but also her mental wellbeing, relationships, and her ability to engage fully in life's adventures.

Yiselle - From Skepticism to Transformation

Yiselle, before and after bariatric weight loss surgery
Yiselle Sanchez, before and after bariatric weight loss surgery.

Like most people considering bariatric surgery, Yiselle Sanchez felt a mixture of skepticism, nervousness and hope. After a great deal of thought, support from the center’s staff, and conversation with her family, Yiselle made a brave decision, and her transformation through Lifespan's Center for Bariatric Surgery is not just a story of weight loss. It is a tale akin to the butterfly effect, where a single decision sparked a series of changes affecting multiple facets of her life.

"I’m going to do it for me first, but then, I have two little ones,” said Sanchez. “They need the best mommy they can get.”

Undergoing bariatric surgery is a monumental decision that requires mental preparation and a deep understanding of one's relationship with food. Sanchez faced this challenge head-on. The support from the Center for Bariatric Surgery's team was instrumental in her mental preparation.

"It’s an internal battle,” said Sanchez. “Things you think have nothing to do with why you gained weight have everything to do with it – everything to do with how you grew up, everything to do with what happened in your past. We have to mentally get in there, and we have to mentally be strong because, if not, the surgery won’t be a success for you. I love the team because they really want to help you and they really want you to overcome what you stuffed in that little can and shoved to the back.”

Post-surgery, Sanchez experienced a remarkable physical transformation that embodies the butterfly effect—small changes leading to significant impacts. From struggling to walk up stairs to walking six miles, her life has taken a 180-degree turn. "I can walk six miles no problem and not be winded and have a full conversation with you right after," she said.

Sanchez's journey was supported by an ecosystem of care at the Center for Bariatric Surgery, including her family and the medical team. Her story highlights the importance of a supportive environment in navigating the challenges post-surgery. From modifying family meals to healthier versions with the help of YouTube and TikTok to the emotional support provided by her family and center nutritionists, staff, and the Facebook group of others who had bariatric surgery through the center – every element played a part in her success.

“They helped me change my life, especially Dr. Ryder,” explained Sanchez. “I want to thank her. She gave me my life back . . . Dr. Ryder doesn’t know this, but I appreciate what Dr. Ryder did for me. She treated me like a human being. She didn’t treat me like I was this person with an obesity problem, and I didn’t matter. She treated me like a human and showed me that I deserve this.”

Inspired by her own experience and the kindness of a nurse who comforted her pre-surgery, Sanchez now works with Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals as a patient services representative, hoping to be there for others as the nurse was for her. She is planning on continuing her education and becoming a nurse.

Sanchez also is planning a trip to the Dominican Republic – her first trip and first time wearing a bathing suit in two decades.

“You’re worth everything you’re going to do,” said Sanchez. “You’re worth everything that is going to happen after. You’re worth every amazing step after the surgery. You are worth it.”

More Success Stories

Keep reading to see how bariatric weight loss surgery has helped transform the lives of other individuals.

Jamie Brooks

Jamie Brooks

Jamie Brooks had Roux-en-Y (RnY) gastric bypass surgery. Her surgeon was Beth Ann Ryder, MD. Read Jamie's story below.

Jamie had a long road to surgery. Having struggled with weight her whole life, she looked into a laparoscopic weight loss procedure while living in Connecticut almost 20 years ago. After her insurer at the time denied the surgery, she was approved for an “open” procedure at another nearby hospital.

The night before her pre-op, she found out about a family history of Factor V Leiden, a mutation that increases the risk of blood clots. She tested positive for the marker and decided against the surgery.

“At the time, I had twins that were only a few years old,” said Jamie. “I decided an elective procedure with that level of risk wasn’t worth it—even though I wanted it so badly.”

Years later, at age 50, Jamie’s health began to decline. “Until that point I was always the ‘active fat girl,’ so not much stopped me,” she said. “But from 50 to 54, I was diagnosed as an insulin-dependent diabetic, developed pulmonary hypertension, got pneumonia 4 times, and began experiencing pain in my knees. I knew that something had to give.”

Jamie was so excited to get the date for her third attempt at weight loss surgery—March 25, 2020. Seven days into the required two-week liquid diet, she got a call saying her surgery was cancelled due to COVID.

At long last, she had the RnY gastric bypass surgery that August with Dr. Ryder, calling it the “absolute best decision I ever made.”

“I went home on no insulin and no Metformin, which was the first real win,” she said. “From there I started walking, a little more each day, and now I go to the gym. I knew right from the start that exercise had to be part of it—I believe that commitment is a big reason why I’ve been successful.”

Jamie says the surgery changed her relationship with food, helping her discover mindful eating. “I haven't stopped myself from doing things I love that involve food, like going out to eat or socializing with people,” she said.

But there have been challenges—for Jamie, the biggest was hair loss, a common symptom of bariatric surgery that’s not often talked about. “I already had very fine, thinning hair, and six months in I started to lose it. I was super excited about my body transformation, but would cry because I had no hair.”

Jamie said support from family and friends and a Lifespan bariatric support group on Facebook helped her manage the hair loss.

“There are some naysayers who say, ‘You took the easy way out.’ I disagree—there's no easy way, and every person has their own journey.”

The surgery was the boost Jamie needed to achieve a healthy lifestyle. “I had tried dieting. I had tried everything. I kept saying to myself, ‘I know I could do this if I just had a jump start.’”

Learn more about the bariatric surgery journey »


Tracey had tried a variety of diets but nothing really stuck until she had gastric bypass surgery, performed by Dr. Vithiananthan of the Center for Bariatric Surgery. 

“It wasn’t an easy way to lose weight,” says Tracey, “but I succeeded because I followed the path. With the help of the great support staff at The Miriam Hospital, I have had the opportunity to get my life and health back.”


After Dr. Dean Roye performed Debi’s gastric surgery in October of 2012, she found a community in the support group, traveling across the country to participate in fun runs. Debi says, “My gastric sleeve is just a tool to maintain my [weight] goals. But I can always rely on the support I have available through the CBS groups.”

Steve Perry

Ten years ago, Steve Perry was one of the first patients at the Center for Bariatric Surgery. Since his surgery, he’s kept the weight off and found a new lease on life.

“My overall quality of life has never been better or more enjoyable.”

Kellie Armstrong, MSN, RN, CBN, had body contouring surgery. Her surgeon was Rachel Sullivan, MD.

After trying “every diet under the sun,” without success, a health crisis on a medical missionary trip made her realize she had to get serious for herself.

She had gastric bypass surgery in 2005 and committed to a successful lifestyle transformation, losing and keeping off over 100 pounds. Kellie has completed spartan races, iron man triathlons, and a few dozen marathons. She became the program manager of Center for Bariatric Surgery several years after her procedure and helped hundreds of others on their weight loss journeys.

“While running about two years ago, I began to notice bruises around my hips, rashes on my skin, and significant discomfort,” said Kellie. “I wasn’t as comfortable in my body.”

She underwent a panniculectomy, or removal of excess skin on the abdomen, and elected to add a back lift to make the procedure a full truncal lift, or a 360-degree circumferential incision. Kellie was back to walking within a few days and was able to jog again after about eight weeks.

“Patients like Kellie who seek out body contouring surgery have worked really hard to lose all this weight and achieve a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Sullivan. “The surgery is that ‘last step’ which allows their bodies to match how they feel.”

“Both surgeries have given me back my health and improved my ability to be a better nurse, parent, and grammy,” said Kellie.

Belinda Clarke, BSN, RN

Belinda Clarke, BSN, RN had Roux-en-Y (RnY) gastric bypass surgery. Her surgeon was Beth Ann Ryder, MD. Read Belinda's story below.


A severe asthma attack that landed her in the emergency department (ED) at The Miriam Hospital forced Belinda Clarke, BSN, RN, to finally make the life-changing decision to have weight-loss surgery.

In the ED, her EKG was abnormal. There is a history of heart attack and stroke on both sides of her family, Clarke said. At 292 pounds, the nurse realized she “was heading down the same path” unless she took action to lose weight.

The wife and mother of two has worked at The Miriam Hospital since 2013, first as a CNA and the last two years as a registered nurse. When she began caring for recovering weight-loss surgery patients in the special care unit, she met Kellie Armstrong, MS, RN, CBN, program manager of the Center for Bariatric Surgery. Armstrong’s own weight-loss surgery success story was an inspiration to her, Clarke said.

Beth Ann Ryder, MD performed Clarke’s Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. “She’s an amazing human being … the most compassionate doctor I’ve ever met,” Clarke said. “Dr. Ryder gave me a tool to take my life back.”

Having just dipped below the 200-pound mark three months after her September surgery, Clarke now feels she is an empathetic role model for her patients, since she can say, “Yes, I do know what it’s like.”

And she’s thrilled to be the active mom to her children that she wants to be. “They can’t keep up with me now,” Clarke said. “I’ve literally been given a second chance.”

Learn how bariatric surgery works »


Regina Bartlett

Regina Bartlett had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. Her surgeon was Beth Ann Ryder, MD. Read Regina's story below.

"I'd been overweight for most of my life and struggled through every program imaginable, with success for a while, but always returning to old habits and behaviors. I contemplated surgery, but I was afraid. After seeing a photograph of myself and seeing how big and sad I was I knew I needed help. I made the call to The Miriam Hospital and was treated so kindly. Going to the initial consultation really changed my life. I saw the surgery as a tool to help me. I learned about my options. [In] my subsequent visits through pre-op I felt so prepared and informed. After surgery, the follow up and support was amazing. I wasn't sold a 'quick fix'; I was offered the opportunity to utilize a tool that can help me change my life and it absolutely did. I am tremendously grateful for all of the knowledge and support from the Center for Bariatric Surgery!"

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