Haleigh Walsh always struggled with her weight from a young age, and even had to have a custom dress made at the age of seven when she had her communion – but now she’s barely recognizable
Image: PA Real Life)
A beautician who was so heavy she bought two flight tickets so she could fit in the plane seat has shed a phenomenal 19 stone 4lbs after going under the knife.
Haleigh Walsh, 25, from Tipperary in Ireland, has struggled with her weight all her life – needing a custom gown made for her when she had her communion aged seven.
As she got older, Haleigh’s weight crept up and at her heaviest, she topped the scales at 32st 6lbs and was wearing size 28 clothes.
Haleigh said: “I ate big portions and am shocked now looking back at just how much I could get through. I’d starve all day then have takeaways, share bags of crisps, chocolates, anything I wanted.”
PA Real Life)
PA Real Life)
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She added she refused to exercise and found herself in pain just from walking.
“People would tell me I had a beautiful face. But I knew my weight was a problem,” she said.
After planning a holiday in Portugal with her friends, Haleigh says a friend told her something that made her think twice.
She said: “An old friend told me a horror story of a man who’d been so big he was marched out of his seat to the back of the plane.
“I was so terrified of that happening to me that I bought a second seat, so I wouldn’t be impacting anyone. I remember sitting there on the plane and thinking, ‘I am never doing this again’.”
Knowing she had to do something about her frame, Haleigh spoke to a relative who had had successful weight loss surgery – and she had seen the results for herself.
While doing a client’s make up for a 40th birthday party, the woman told Haleigh she’d been on the waiting list for a gastric bypass in Ireland for nine years.
Not wanting to wait that long, Haleigh started researching private clinics and just one month after returning from Portugal in August 2019, she applied to the Nordbariatric Clinic in Kaunas, Lithuania.
However, when she contacted the clinic, she was told she needed to lose three stone on her own before going under the knife to reduce the risk of the operation.
So for the next 11 months, she stuck to a primarily liquid diet and managed to get herself down to 29st 2lb by July 2020 – and she traveled to Lithuania to have the operation which cost £5,450.
The procedure involves creating a small pouch at the top of the stomach connected to the small intestines, which makes the patient feel fuller after eating less food – and meaning they absorb fewer calories.
PA Real Life)
PA Real Life)
She said: “I wasn’t nervous at all about the operation.
“Even when the surgeon came to see me, I didn’t have any questions. I felt so confident after watching the surgery being done on the clinic’s Facebook page and reading testimonials about it.
“The surgeon performed 12 procedures in the two days I was in the clinic. He was so experienced that I knew I was in safe hands.”
After having the operation, Haleigh was on a diet of baby food and yogurt while her stomach recovered.
A week later she was allowed to fly back home to Ireland – and was already 20lbs lighter than when she’d flown out.
Just months after the operation, Haleigh was slim enough to be able to start doing cardio exercise – and a few months after that, she was able to incorporate weights into her routine too.
As the weight fell off her, Haleigh barely recognized herself – but losing so much weight so quickly left her with some excess skin.
Now weighing in at 13st 2lbs and fitting into size 12 clothes, Haleigh is looking to have her extra skin removed, and has her eye on Lithuania again.
She said: “Since I’ve been training properly in the gym, I’ve really noticed how bad my loose skin is.
“I just want it off me now. My body is toning up underneath, but then I have these great folds and flaps of skin. It’s my arms that are the worst.
“I’m really confident with my size and shape, but still have to have something covering my arms at all times as they bother me so much.”
The operation, which she’s booked for October at the same clinic, will cost £6,000.
Haleigh said: “I just have so much more confidence now. I love going for walks and out on adventures.
“Before all this I couldn’t even walk down the road without getting out of breath or my back hurting.
“Now I love taking exercise. I’m the complete opposite of what I was.”
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