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Woman Loses 130 Lbs. Months after Radical Stomach Surgery

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- For the first time in as long as she can remember, Holly Matherne is excited about shopping. Last October Matherne was a size 32. Today she's a size 18 and dropping. An addiction to clothes is replacing her previous addiction: food.

In an interview with ABC’s Nightline last October, Matherne said, "I've been fighting with weight since I was 6 years old. I've been on every diet, I've been to a nutritionist, Weight Watchers, reduce fat, reduce calorie, you name it, I've done it. I may lose weight here and there, but then it winds up creeping back on. It's all tied to emotion. I'm obviously an emotional eater."

Last fall Matherne weighed 370 pounds, and she knew she had to turn her life around before it was too late, she said. After years of unsuccessful dieting, Matherne decided to have sleeve gastrectomy, a surgical operation to remove most of her stomach. The procedure cost around $30,000 and is irreversible.

Dr. David Treen was Matherne's bariatric surgeon.

"The beauty of the sleeve gastrectomy is that the patients lose weight twice as fast as what we've seen with other surgical procedures," Treen said. "There is no question this is the single best option for patients who the weight has just gotten out of control."

The surgery takes less than an hour and sheds very little blood. A pouch is cut from the stomach and stapled shut, and the rest of the stomach -- about 85 percent -- is twirled out of a dime-size hole. With that part of the stomach goes a hormone called ghrelin.

"Ghrelin is a powerful appetite stimulant," said Treen, "and when you remove this part of the stomach, most of our patients tell us after surgery, they're not hungry. Ever."

Now, her recovery complete, Matherne has lost 130 pounds since the surgery.

"I find I'm a lot more outgoing," she said. "I always thought I was outgoing, that I had a good personality, but I find I'm less hesitant in social situations."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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