At 17, you'd never guess Cassie Divello had a weight problem.
But, about the time she reached puberty, Cassie started putting on the pounds.
"She was gaining weight rapidly, every month. There was nothing that worked,” says Cassie's mom, Jennifer Divello.
Cassie was active, playing many sports, but could not shed the pounds. "It wasn't like I was a couch potato. I did stuff", she says.
However, by the time she turned 13, Cassie weighed 220 pounds.
Her mom says, "Running and things like that, she would lose her breath. Her knees were starting to ache; it was wearing on her."
That's when the family started researching various options, and came upon something called the LAP-BAND.
Touted on its website as a minimally invasive procedure, it's an adjustable gastric band that reduces the stomach capacity, restricting the amount of food that can be consumed at one time.
And, it is reversible.
But there was a problem: no local doctor would touch her because of her age.
So, the Divello family decided to take Cassie to a hospital in Tijuana, Mexico for the procedure. It's a decision that has many U.S. doctors concerned.
Chief of Surgery at Penrose Hospital, Dr. Ihor Fedorak said, "There have been reports of sham operations being done, people using outdated and expired equipment. We have had several people recently hospitalized in Colorado Springs, who had weight loss surgeries in Mexico with major complications, and have been hospitalized for a long time."
Fortunately, Cassie had no problems with the procedure.
She's down to 145 pounds.
The only pitfall is she can only eat about a half cup of food per meal and must chew her food very, very well.
"If I eat really meaty food, I have to throw it up", says Cassie.
But Cassie says she couldn't be happier.
There is a risk that the LAP-BAND could slip, requiring another surgery.
But so far, so good for Cassie.
She has a boyfriend now, and is back to playing sports with a lot more energy.
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