A mother from Fleet, Lincolnshire loses more than eight stone in a year after flying to Turkey for a gastric sleeve operation
After being bullied as a child and facing constant weight struggles, a mum felt it was her ‘last resort’ to travel to Turkey for surgery.
Crystal Rudd, 29, of Fleet, lost more than eight stone in a year after undergoing gastric sleeve surgery – something she did of her own accord to avoid a decade long wait for the same treatment on the NHS.
The non reversible procedure involves removing the hunger hormone, ghrelin, and up to 80% of the stomach.
The mother-of-three weighed 23 stone at her heaviest – but has now slimmed down 13 stone and six and a half pounds.
She said: “I have always struggled with my weight and as a child I used to get bullied - it was so bad the police had to get involved.
“I tried to lose weight by going to my GP but it just didn’t help. I had no choice but to go through the procedure privately. The NHS couldn't help me and I would have been on the waiting list for up to ten years.”
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Crystal, formerly of Spalding, explained that she originally asked to be put on the list in 2021. However, due to other health issues, the doctors removed her from the list.
The operation hit national headlines after a London woman died after having the surgery in Turkey but Crystal said she accepts there are risks and urged everyone to do their own research.
She however, felt she had reached the point where she had to act.
Crystal said: “I just thought, if I want something doing, I’ve got to do it myself.
“I also didn’t want to rely on the NHS, especially as it is already stretched and under a lot of strain. I just felt like other people needed the resources for more important things.“
Crystal travelled to Turkey for her gastric sleeve operation at the start of 2023 and it cost £2,700.
“Initially I felt anxious about it because you hear so many horror stories online.
“I was reassured by the amount of operations they do day in, day out. They put me to sleep and removed 80% of my stomach. When I initially woke up, I panicked and thought, what have I done.
“Before I had the surgery I had a bad relationship with food and I wasn't very healthy because I used food as a comfort.
“After having the gastric sleeve, I subconsciously think about eating healthier and I’ve noticed that I now pick better options when I go shopping for my family.
“I received a lot of support from my family and my husband helped push me to do it. My children say they can’t remember me ever being that big, but I notice that I am more energetic and able to do more things with them now.”
Following her dramatic weight loss, Crystal has been left with loose skin and is planning to head back to Turkey in May for a 360 degree tummy tuck and arm lift surgery – which will cost £6,000 for both procedures.
She said: “I feel quite excited really. I’m still losing weight but I feel like once I have the loose skin removed, I will be at my maintenance weight.”
While Crystal was undergoing this change in her life, she decided to upload videos onto social media platform TikTok, where she has nearly 40,000 followers.
Some of the content includes her weight loss story, fitness videos and ‘What I Eat In A Day’.
She said: “People do say negative things but I chose to rise above it because it's my life and I'm choosing to do something that will keep me and my family healthy.
“I think there is a huge stigma around going abroad and getting the surgery in general and people class it as cheating, but all surgeries come with risks.
“I have had a lot of people on my TikTok account say that my videos help them. It has also enabled me to go to events where thousands of people have also gone through similar changes.“
Crystal has also featured on a Channel 4 documentary called, ‘The Other Side’, where she shares her weight loss story and the impacts it has had on her life.
She said: “I wanted to do the documentary to help other people in similar situations. A lot of people just think it's easy but there's a big mental side to it.
“It is hard to process not being the person you were, when you still see yourself as the old you. I am basically finding out who I am all over again, like what clothes I like and look good in and finding a new style.
“After having the surgery, I have gained more confidence in myself. I used to wear a lot of makeup to cover up the way I looked, but now I don't need to hide as much.
“My diet has changed a lot since I had the surgery and even if I could eat more I wouldn’t want to. The gastric sleeve has changed my relationship towards food and I don't want to go back to the portion sizes I originally was eating as that wasn't healthy.
“I can still eat 'bad' foods but there is no food that is ‘bad’. It's just portion control and size and as long as you eat everything in moderation you won’t be abusing your privilege by over eating.
“I am planning to stick to smaller portions otherwise I could risk re-stretching my stomach and going back to where I started, which I don’t want to do. I also have to take multi vitamins every day and biotin vitamins for my hair and skin, so that I don’t get any deficiencies.
“My advice for anyone looking to have any kind of weight loss surgery abroad would be to thoroughly research everything – don’t always think that cheap is best. If it feels like the right thing to do then go with your heart.”
If you are interested in learning more about Crystal’s story, you can find out more by viewing her TikTok account,Sleevesurgery2023,or by visiting the Channel 4 documentaries YouTube page.