Swimmer Vanessa Cordero kept gaining weight and knew she had to stop

Vanessa Cordero, bariatric surgery patient, Palmetto General Hospital

When Vanessa Cordero was just 6 years old, she joined her first swim team and ended up falling in love with the sport. By the time she was in high school she was a member of both the swim and water polo teams. Despite how active she was,  Vanessa struggled with her weight.

"Even though I was physically active, I was also very much overweight and no one could understand why… including myself," Vanessa says.

At 230 pounds, she was scrutinized by family members who assumed she was overeating. She reduced her food intake to just a few small snacks throughout the day and one meal before bed. She tried every diet, including one that allowed just six cookies a day, but nothing worked. 

At the same time, Vanessa began to notice her overweight parents' health conditions, including high cholesterol, thyroid issues, pre-diabetes and sleep apnea.

"I knew I was on the path to having the very same health issues because of being severely overweight," she says. "I was already dealing with extreme pain in both my right knee and right ankle. I could be in a standing position not doing much and my knee would pop out, or I'd easily twist my ankle when walking."

An orthopedic surgeon told Vanessa she needed reconstructive surgery on a torn ligament but wouldn't do the procedure unless she lost weight to avoid continued issues post-surgery. 

"That was something that was definitely hard to hear, but it also made it very clear that I needed to lose weight," she says.

After a family friend told her mother about a commercial for the weight loss surgery program at Palmetto, she and Vanessa attended a bariatric seminar together. It was the start of her weight loss journey. 

Back in the water

First, she saw a nutritionist who explained her previous eating habits had greatly slowed down her metabolism. By not eating proper meals and snacks throughout the day her body was not burning what she took in. Next, Vanessa spoke with Dr. Jorge Sosa and his team and decided sleeve gastrectomy was the best surgical option for her.

"The day of the surgery I remember being so excited," she says. "I was only 19 years old and I was ready for a new me. The hospital staff that attended to me was very nice and they did their best to help me relax and make me feel comfortable."

After the surgery, she was afraid she was going to be in a great deal of pain and was surprised when she was walking shortly afterwards with her mother by her side. Five days later, the stitches came out.

"I'm 22 years old now, and so far I have lost 100 pounds and have been able to keep up with my new healthy lifestyle," she says "My mother who was with me throughout the process was so pleased with my results and with the way Dr. Sosa and the hospital staff treated me that she ended up undergoing weight loss surgery as well. Both of us are happy with our decisions and we would gladly recommend Palmetto General Hospital’s weight loss surgery program."