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Rare and risky surgery changes Broomfield woman’s life

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DENVER -- When was the last time you made a quick trip to the grocery store,  enjoyed a movie with friends or even tied your shoes? Sixty-seven year old Linda Sturdevant hasn't done any of those things in more than 10 years.

The former music teacher reached a weight of more than 450 pounds after her retirement and the death of her beloved husband.

She says, “Did I ever make the right choices? I don't think so.”

Linda decided to make a change in her life and even dedicated herself to dieting. She successfully lost 80 pounds but weight loss alone wouldn’t remove the massive amount of abdominal fat that ended up holding her prisoner in her own home.

Linda’s abdomen became so large that it prevented her from bringing her feet together and she could no longer walk. Surgical removal was the only answer.

Hope arrived in the hands of Dr. Philippe Capraro of the famed Grossman Plastic Surgery clinic in Denver and Beverly Hills.

The clinic is a favorite of many top name celebrities.

Dr. Capraro, determined to help Linda lead a healthy and full life once again, expressed the deepest compassion when explaining her case.  He said, “She mentioned to me that really no one wanted to touch her. I could see she was really hurting inside.”

Dr. Capraro went on to paint a picture of the challenges Linda faced. “(She can’t) do what you and I can do every day,  going to lunch or seeing a movie or walking in the mall,  so allowing her to walk again is just something I’m privileged to do.”

Linda said she is grateful to have an expert of Dr. Capraro’s caliber show this kind of attention to her case, especially after many other doctors refused to help her.  “He makes you feel so good, so respected, he doesn't laugh and turn away.”

In preparation for the six hour procedure that would remove the abdominal fat and skin, Dr. Capraro designed a special hoist to lift Linda’s abdomen. It turned out to be a great success.

The surgical team removed the mass and within 24 hours, Linda was awake and smiling, while receiving some special pampering from make-up specialists from Facial Aesthetics.

She carefully took her first steps in more than a decade saying, “I feel light as a feather!”

Dr. Capraro said, “She’s doing so well, she really has a (full) life ahead of her.”

Linda said she looks forward to being active. Her dream is to take a trip to Hawaii with her sister, since she is now able to sit on a plane.

She said it was difficult to share such a personal story, but she wanted to inspire others who may be struggling with weight problems.

She offered these words,  “I feel really good, I’m so glad I took that first step (even though) I was so scared. If I can do it you can do it.”

Get information about ways to begin a healthier lifestyle. The American Heart Association also has information.