When Nichola Waite shed an amazing 16 stones her friends signed her up to a dating agency and told her to get back on the road to romance.

Now 39-year-old Nichola - who dropped from 31 stone to just 15 in less than 18 months - has a new home, a new job and a new man in her life!

“Everything is just so much better,” says Nichola, a Personal Assistant who lives in Dagenham. “I used to get out of breath tying my shoe laces and now I can wear high heels again for the first time in years.

I never thought I’d have the confidence to start dating again but the ‘new me’ found the courage and I actually found myself a fella!”

Nichola, who is 5ft 11ins tall, had struggled with her weight for years but the situation got worse following her divorce in 2014.

“I was piling the weight on despite my constant diets. There isn’t a diet I haven’t tried – I even had hypnotherapy – but I just couldn’t stick to them. In the end I realised I was going to need more help and looked at surgery options.

Some people might think it is an easy option but, believe me, it isn’t. I would have loved to have lost weight through one of the diets but I just couldn’t do it and reached the stage where my weight was putting my health at risk.”

Nichola met with Consultant Bariatric Surgeon Mr Kesava Mannur at Spire Wellesley Hospital in Southend, Essex and, after ‘a long discussion and a never-ending list of questions’ it was decided she would have a gastric sleeve.

Mr Mannur said: “There was no hiding the fact that Nichola was dangerously overweight – she really was putting her health at risk. We discussed her lifestyle and her many, many attempts to cut down on food and decided that a gastric sleeve would be her best choice of treatment.

The operation is a minimally invasive procedure with most patients staying in hospital for a couple of nights. It is technically a highly-demanding procedure in which about three quarters of the stomach – including the area which contains ghrelin, known as the ‘hunger hormone’ is removed.

By reducing the stomach capacity as well as the desire for food, we give the patient a great chance of successfully losing weight.”

As for Nichola, she said: “It all went so well. I had two weeks off work and then it was life as normal – minus the overeating!

When my friends said they had paid to put me on Match.com I was absolutely terrified but, as the weight dropped, off I gained confidence and went on my first date for absolutely years. I’m now seeing a lovely man, I have a new job and I have moved home. I really feel my life is heading in the right direction.

It hasn’t been easy but, to be honest, it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it might be. I desperately wanted to lose weight and the operation has reduced my appetite as well as my capacity to take food on board.

Less weight has allowed me to do more exercise and I am feeling fitter than I have for years. It is a big decision but I would encourage people in a similar situation to what I was to at least meet a consultant and discuss the matter.

Everyone at the hospital has been superb from start to finish. From answering my questions beforehand to giving support afterwards they have all been there for me. Don’t tell anyone, but every time I put on a pair of high heels or a smart dress I whisper ‘thanks Mr Mannur’ – he really has made a massive change to my whole life.”

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