Forty-four-year-old Laura Hennebery has worked as a teacher for more than 20 years and currently teaches health opportunities through physical education (H.O.P.E.) classes. The North Lauderdale resident is part of a close-knit family and enjoys spending time with her four sisters and her dad.
Especially now that she lost 155 pounds after bariatric surgery at Broward Health Imperial Point.
Like many people, Hennebery’s weight struggles began in childhood. For years, she tried losing weight through diet and activity. Different programs worked for short periods, but she continued experiencing seasonal weight loss and gain and never made the progress she hoped for.
She reached her heaviest weight of 365 pounds after Thanksgiving in 2018. After that, she found some success with a Keto diet, losing 85 pounds in 2019, but couldn’t maintain it. When the pandemic struck, she gained 50 pounds back.
Then, in 2021, she had a health scare one morning before school, experiencing extreme chest pain and difficulty breathing. While her symptoms subsided, her blood pressure was off the chart. She went to a cardiologist who, in addition to diagnosing her with acid reflux, recommended weight loss surgery. Her primary care doctor agreed.
Laura made an appointment with bariatric surgeon Chi Zhang, M.D., who put her at ease from the first moment she met him.
“I was immediately comfortable with Dr. Zhang and his office manager,” Hennebery said. “They are very attentive. I felt like I was their only patient. But then when I went to their office, I realized they treated everyone the same wonderful way.”
Hennebery shared everything she learned about bariatric surgery with her dad who struggled with weight gain and diabetes during COVID. They both decided to get surgery.
Hennebery had a gastric bypass surgery in July 2021.
By December 2022, she surpassed her original weight loss goal and kept going.
“I feel fantastic,” she said. “I appreciate the little things like wearing the clothes I always wanted to and not worrying about bumping into people as I walk through a crowd or down the aisles of my classroom.”
Her father is also doing well and feeling better after bariatric surgery. “It’s been great having a partner during this journey. It’s been life-changing.”
For more information on bariatric surgery, visit www.browardhealth.org/services/bariatric-surgery.