Here's What It Looks Like To Lose 120 Pounds

Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
This article was originally published on June 22, 2015.

Sandra, a 31-year-old woman living in Barcelona, has been overweight since childhood. But, as an adult, she developed morbid obesity. "From my 124 kilograms [273 pounds] I managed several times to drop to 100-105 kilograms [220-230 pounds], but I never managed to remain at that weight," she told photographer Alessandro Vincenzi. Ultimately, Sandra decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery — and invited Vincenzi to document her life before, during, and after the procedure. The result is an honest, often melancholy photo series Vincenzi titled Metamorphosis.

Vincenzi, a self-trained documentary photographer also based in Barcelona, first met Sandra while visiting the Hospital del Mar at the recommendation of a friend who worked there as a radiologist. The hospital's obesity program offers gastric bypass surgery to select morbidly obese patients who have already completed a year of nutritional and psychiatric counseling. Patients do not choose to undergo the surgery lightly.

The procedure typically involves dividing the stomach into a small upper section and larger bottom section; then, the small intestine is connected to both sections, restricting the amount of food patients can eat and the calories the body absorbs. "When I asked Sandra why she [chose to have the surgery], she told me that she didn’t want to have health problems in the future and also, she wanted to be accepted by society," Vincenzi writes on his website. Sandra told Vincenzi that she didn't have a "complex" about her looks, but that she feared for her future.

Sandra lost nearly 120 pounds over two years, and now, at 154 pounds, she is "on her way to a new life, though she is still in the process," Vincenzi writes. That process will be lifelong: While recovery from the gastric bypass surgery itself is painful, the regimented schedule of eating many small, nutrient-rich meals each day exacts a greater toll on patients. Still, Sandra "looks at these pictures with a smile," Vincenzi says of his subject's reaction to Metamorphosis.

Click through to view the 29 poignant photographs — including intimate moments with family as well as scenes in the operating room itself — with commentary from Vincenzi.
It's your body. It's your summer. Enjoy them both. Check out more #TakeBackTheBeach here.


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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
April 2012
In photographer Alessandro Vincenzi’s words:
"[This is] Sandra in her room while dressing up to go to the doctor. At this stage, Sandra was a bit less than 120 kilograms [264 pounds], and it was when she started the program to be admitted [for] gastric bypass surgery."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
April 2012
"Sandra, along with her mother, Julia, in the living room while watching TV."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
April 2012
"Sandra in the attic of her house in Barcelona, where she keeps various exercise machines, seldom used."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
April 2012
"Sandra during a visit at the Hospital del Mar before the operation. To be admitted to the surgery, she had to lose 15 kilograms."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
April 2012
"Sandra with her mother and Dr. Goday, head of [the] Section of Endocrinology at the Hospital del Mar, while [he] describes the process of the surgery."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
April 2012
"Sandra during a work break. Her attention [to] aesthetic never changed, even when she came to weigh 124 kilograms."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
April 2012
"[Once] Sandra entered the program at the Hospital del Mar to undergo gastric bypass, she had to follow a controlled diet and do sports. Before surgery, she has to drop below 105 kilograms [231 pounds]."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
April 2012
"Sandra and her mother during lunchtime. Before surgery, Sandra must drop at least 15 kilograms [33 pounds] and respect a balanced diet in preparation for post-surgery."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
April 2012
"Sandra, while waiting for her mother and aunt, engrossed in thoughts pre-operation."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
May 2012
"Sandra while talking with her sister, Lola, about the procedure of the surgery."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
May 2012
"A week before the surgery, during a relaxing moment for Sandra on the terrace of her house."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
May 2012
"Sandra...undergoing an x-ray examination before surgery."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
May 2012
"A hug [from] Sandra's sister, Lola, the evening before the operation."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
May 2012
"The day has come. Sandra [is] in the operating theater at the Hospital del Mar...being subjected to the initial checks... The surgery will take about four hours."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
May 2012
"A moment of concern [for] Sandra's family during the surgery. On the beach in front of the Hospital del Mar [are Sandra's] mother Julia, [her niece] Lorena, [her] brother Angel, and Cristian, [Lorena's] boyfriend."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
May 2012
"Sandra, the day after the surgery. Apart from some post-surgery pain, she is [feeling good]. She will be discharged in a few days. Now, she has two weeks in which she will only swallow liquid."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
May 2012
"One week after surgery, Sandra's staples are removed. [There are] only five small holes through which the surgeons passed with the laparoscopic technique to remove part of the intestine and reduce the stomach."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
May 2012
"[Sandra's] 32nd birthday...celebrated at her sister's place, with her mother and her niece, Lorena. 11 days after surgery, Sandra is still having only liquids."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
May 2012
"Sandra during the first medical check, 20 days after the surgery. Alejandra Parri, a nutritionist at the Hospital del Mar, has followed Sandra throughout the journey, before and after the surgery."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
June 2012
"For one month after surgery, Sandra consumed only liquids and mashed foods. Then, she was able to move on to solid foods."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
July 2012
"Sandra [after] the surgery, together with her mother, in a bar at the Maremagnum shopping center in Barcelona."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
September 2012
"It's been four months since Sandra went under surgery, and she [has] not [had] any kind of complication so far. A month ago, she began exercising in the gym and in the pool."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
September 2012
Sandra exercising.
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
December 2012
"Sandra...getting ready in the bathroom of her house before hanging out with some friends."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
December 2012
"Sandra playing with old trousers that she used to wear when she was 125 kilograms [275 pounds]."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
July 2013
"Sandra is almost unrecognizable...having lost more than 50 kilograms [110 pounds] in a little more than a year after the surgery."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
July 2012
“Sandra during a night with her friends at the Hotel Vela."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
July 2013
"Sandra during dinner with some friends in a restaurant in Barcelona. She is able to eat everything, although in small quantities."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alessando Vincenzi / CAPTA.
August 2013
"Sandra during one of her walks at dusk in the hills near her home. In addition to physical activity, Sandra takes advantage of these moments to relax."
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