A woman who weighed a colossal 24 stone after guzzling 12 cans of cola-a-day flew to Mexico for gastric surgery after finding a cheap weight loss option on Facebook.
Teresa Stafford, 37, paid just £2,500 ($3,500) for the procedure to remove 75 per cent of her stomach, which she said would have cost her £18,000 ($25,000) in the US.
Teresa, of Burien, Washington, lost more than 12 stone after the gastric sleeve operation in March 2018 and now weighs just over 11 stone.
She said: “I heard about the surgery in 2008 and I applied through my insurance but I wasn’t approved.
“By 2018 I was close to 28 stone and in the US it costs around 25 grand for weight loss surgery.
“So I got on Facebook and found a group for people who had gone to Mexico and I decided to go that route.”
Teresa, who used to work in vehicle licensing, struggled with her weight all her life and comfort ate from a young age.
She said: “I would eat pizza and fried food every day. I drank over a case of pop a day – that’s 12 cans.
“I was almost drinking a can of Coke every hour.”
Teresa’s weight made her frightened to do everyday things.
She added: “It made me scared to try anything because I didn’t want to look stupid. I felt like everyone was staring at me.
“I did try to get it under control, but a lot of times I felt like I was just too far gone.”
Teresa eventually decided to travel to a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, for bariatric surgery, where a doctor removes around 75 per cent of the stomach, leaving a sleeve-shaped portion which holds much less food.
She added: “The cost included one night in a hotel, one night in the hospital and one night in the recovery house. The surgery is so common there, I wasn’t super worried about it, but I was worried it wasn’t going to work.”
Although the surgery was successful, Teresa cautioned that it wasn’t a ‘magic fix.’
She added: “I thought I was going to feel amazing, but all my skin was sagging off my body. It felt like a whole new set of insecurities.
“The lower half of my stomach was really bad, my boobs were horrible, pretty much everything was sagging.”
Teresa returned to Mexico last October to have skin removal surgery and breast implants, but has not been happy with the results.
She said: “I was left with a barbaric looking scar that goes from right above my butt all the way around my tummy.”
But Teresa, who has gone from a size 22 to a size 10, added that she is happier without the excess weight.
“I could barely breathe before, it was a struggle,” she added.
“I eat pretty normally now, I’ll have cereal in the morning and a turkey sandwich for lunch. I haven’t drunk pop since my surgery. It just tastes way too sweet, I find it disgusting now.”
She has also noticed differences to her social life.
Teresa said: “I feel like people are a bit friendlier to me. I’ve noticed that men who wouldn’t have talked to me before suddenly think that talking to me might be a good idea.”
But she cautioned anyone considering going to Mexico for a similar procedure to look closer to home.
And added: “I definitely think that people should research their clinic – and ask to see what kind of scars other people have had.
“They really don’t explain much to you when you are down there and there’s also a language barrier.”