KIPS BAY — For weight-loss patients at Bellevue Hospital Center, surgery has given them the energy and the confidence to be runway models for a day.
At the fifth-annual fashion show, 25 former patients showed off their new figures while posing in front of photos taken before their surgeries. Marina Bruno, who had surgery in May, kicked off the show by singing a solo, strutting up and down the runway in a long red dress.
"It was a burden to live before," said Bruno, 32, who went from 300 to 221 pounds. "But now I want to run and jump. I have so much energy, I can't stop."
Manish S. Parikj, the director of the bariatric surgery program at Bellevue Hospital Center, says that the procedure is life-changing for his patients. Bariatric surgery encompasses three different weight-loss procedures: gastric bypass, gastric banding, and sleeve gastrectomy.
"This is the highlight of their year, and our favorite day of the year," said Parikh. "They can't wait to show off how happy and healthy they are."
Friends and family cheered as the host read each model's personal weight loss story.
Oscar Valenica, 45, brought pants that used to fit his 410-pound frame. Since he's gone down to 159 pounds, he says life has never been better.
"It's a total change of life for me and my family," said Valencia, grinning as he compared the pants to his new body.
Renee Thompson, 30, who lost 65 pounds after her surgery in February, was excited to walk down the runway, something she had never done before.
"I've always had high self-confidence," said Thompson, who was wearing a tight minidress. "But after the surgery, I fell in love with myself all over again."