Antoinette, a Belleville resident and mother of three, had a long history of medical issues—obesity, out-of-control diabetes, high blood pressure, nerve damage, sleep apnea—and she needed a change.


Antoinette - before surgery

Diets of every kind, as well as diet pills, had not done the trick. If she lost weight, it refused to stay off. "I'd lose two pounds and gain back 10,” said Antoinette. Walking up the stairs left her breathless and walking or standing in general made her feet and legs ache. She also had a hard time keeping up with her energetic daughters.

Finally, her doctor recommended attending a bariatric surgery seminar at Clara Maass Medical Center (CMMC). There, Antoinette learned about her weight loss options, and after meeting with Naveen Ballem, MD, a decision was made.

On November 19, 2009, Antoinette underwent gastric bypass surgery—a procedure that bypasses a large portion of the small intestine and creates a smaller stomach pouch, which causes patients to feel fuller sooner and eat less.

Just over a year later, Antoinette reports only success. Antoinette has gone from 205 pounds to 118.5 pounds—a loss of 86.5 pounds. Once a size 18-20 in pants, she is now a size 6!”

But it wasn’t just the surgery that finally did the trick. “Surgery helps, but you have to work at it yourself,” she said. “It’s not a quick fix; it’s a drastic lifestyle change.” Together with watching what she eats and taking necessary vitamins, Antoinette works out on the treadmill and goes for walks.

In addition to weight loss, Antoinette’s other medical issues have practically disappeared. “Dr. Ballem said it [the surgery] would get rid of my diabetes, and he was right,” she said. “I haven’t needed insulin since the day of surgery and my blood pressure is so under control that I might even get off my blood pressure medication soon.”

And she can now keep up with her three daughters. “I can go shopping with the girls without having to stop and rest,” she said. They also spend their time going for bike rides and playing Nintendo Wii together.

Antoinette and girls

Antoinette - now

Though the surgery and the new lifestyle posed challenges, Antoinette has proved successful and thanks Clara Maass Medical Center for its help. “I am just so grateful to Dr. Ballem and his staff. I call them the ‘A-Team’ because you need support prior, during and after surgery, they are there for you.”

Antoinette needed a change for the better and that is exactly what she got. “If you want to live a healthy life and be able to do things, then you have to do what you have to do,” she said. “It was the best decision I ever made in my life.”

Clara Maass Medical Center offers a multidisciplinary approach to weight loss that includes pre- and post-surgery education and counseling. Certified by the American Board of Surgery, Naveen Ballem, MD, along with his staff, is dedicated to helping every patient achieve optimal results. The Center believes that the key to excellent long-term success is consistent follow-up and support from the entire Bariatric team.