Mother claims a gastric sleeve operation caused her to become anorexic

Obese mother who tipped the scales at 364lbs claims a gastric sleeve caused her to become anorexic and left her close to death

  • Rachel Layou, 43, from  Texas, weighed 364lbs before having a gastric sleeve
  • But surgeons made her stomach too small and she battled infection to stay alive 
  • Mother-of-four’s weight quickly dropped and she ended up at about 84lbs 
  • Was unable to drink water and was fed through a catheter line straight to heart 

An obese mother-of-four has claimed a gastric sleeve operation destroyed her life after it caused her to become anorexic and left her close to death. 

Rachel Layou, 43, from Fort Worth, Texas, tipped the scales at 364lbs (26 stone) before having a gastric sleeve operation in December 2015.

But days later, she was rushed to hospital where she learned that the surgeon who had carried out the operation had made her stomach too small before she battled infections to stay alive.

Rachel couldn’t even digest a spoonful of apple sauce or a sip of water, and her weight quickly plummeted to 84lbs (six stone), threatening her life.

Doctors warned corrective surgery could be fatal, but Rachel went ahead with the procedure and has since regained weight to a healthy 140lbs (10 stone), revealing: ‘I just had to have faith in God giving me a miracle and not give up hope.’    


Rachel Layou, 43, from Fort Worth, Texas, has claimed a gastric sleeve operation in 2015 destroyed her life after it caused her to become anorexic and left her close to death

After the gastric sleeve, Rachel couldn’t even digest a spoonful of apple sauce or a sip of water, and her weight quickly plummeted to 84lbs (six stone), threatening her life

Rachel decided to have the gastric band after she was diagnosed with diabetes following the birth of her fourth child. 

The mother-of-four revealed: ‘I had a 12 pounds baby in 2011 and after that I developed diabetes which got out of control.

‘My medication wouldn’t control it and I gained an enormous amount of weight so my doctor recommended the surgery.’

She explained: ‘I was unhappy with the way I looked.

After the surgery in 2015, Rachel was unable to drink water for three years after doctors removed too much of her stomach (after the operation)

‘I was 364lbs (26 stone) and I couldn’t lose the weight no matter what I did or what the doctors did, my weight just kept climbing. It became hard to care for my children.’

Rachel continued: ‘I researched it for about a year before I had it done. When I had it done, I was released home for recovery and to start my liquid diet.’

Yet shortly after the operation, Rachel quickly fell ill and was rushed to hospital.

She revealed: ‘Three days later I had a high fever and extreme pain in my abdomen so I went to the hospital.

The mother-of-four spent almost two months in hospital after the operation after she was left ‘full of infection’ following her initial operation

‘I had a leak in my stomach because the sleeve was too small so my stomach contents were leaking out and I was full of infection. I spent almost two months in hospital and they couldn’t fix it.’

Rachel explained:  ‘My body was shutting down because I was anorexic. I knew something was terribly wrong because I couldn’t swallow anything.

‘They tried to feed me a spoonful of apple sauce and I couldn’t swallow it. I couldn’t even swallow my own saliva.

Rachel said she was unable to swallow and she had a tremendous weight loss, leaving her at just 84lbs (six stone)

‘Once they’ve taken the stomach out, they can’t put it back.’

She explained: ‘I had tremendous weight loss which I was happy about in the beginning but then I ended up around 84lbs (six stone).

What is gastric sleeve surgery? 

Sleeve gastrectomy staples off a portion of the stomach and removes the excess – effectively turning it from a pouch into a sleeve. 

As no part of the stomach is bypassed, nutrients are absorbed in the usual way. 

However, the restrictions on the amount of food patients are able to eat means patients will still need to take supplements. 

The results are excellent, achieving up to 70 percent excess weight loss, just shy of the standard set by the gastric bypass. 

Nonetheless, it is a simpler solution, both in the operation and the way the patient’s life is affected afterwards. 

As well as weight loss, sleeve gastrectomy has also been proven to bring about remission of diabetes. 

‘They just kept telling me I had to learn to swallow and obviously I know how to do that.’

She was unable to drink water for three years after the December 2015 operation, and dodged death on several occasions. She also shrunk from a size 26 to a size four. 

Rachel was left being fed through a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line straight to her heart.   

She explained: ‘I got PICC line infections and ended up close to death many times.’

She said: ‘I wanted to be a healthy weight, not skinny just around 112lbs (eight stone) so I could spend time with my kids.

‘I ended up in a nursing home and they were going to put me in a hospice.

‘I lost all of my hair, my teeth are damaged because I wasn’t getting the right nutrients. I even went blind in my left eye, it was terrifying.’

In January 2019, Rachel had corrective surgery but was told to prepare for the worst.

She explained: ‘They said they were going to try and correct it with surgery but couldn’t guarantee that I’d wake up.

‘I was so scared. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to watch my children grow up.

‘And if I did survive but the surgery wasn’t successful, I’d have six weeks to live because my heart would fail.’ 

Thankfully, the corrective surgery worked and Rachel is back to a healthy 140lbs (ten stone).

Rachel shrank to a size four and was left being fed through a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line straight to her heart (pictured, in hospital)

She said: ‘The surgery did work but I have to be careful because one spoonful too many and I can be sick for the day.

‘I usually have half a turkey sandwich for my lunch and I’m able to take care of my kids again.’

Rachel has now set up a fundraising page as she had to give up her job as a carer while she was ill. 

After the surgery, Rachel said she lost much of her hair, her teeth were left damaged and she even went blind in one eye because she wasn’t getting the right nutrients 

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