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How Surgical Weight Loss Brings New Self-Confidence

Published on Jun. 17, 2021




This is how Katie Anderson describes the feeling of losing more than 200 pounds after bariatric surgery with Munson Healthcare.

Her journey was a long one. But after a lifelong struggle with weight, she knows her physical, emotional, and mental transformation has been well worth the effort.

In fact, her results are nothing short of amazing.

Deciding on Bariatric Surgery

Katie wasn’t unhealthy before her surgery. Her vitals and health markers were relatively normal. But she realized carrying an unhealthy amount of extra weight didn’t bode well for her future.

At 360 pounds, she knew her health could take a dramatic turn if she didn’t make a major lifestyle change.

“There wasn't really one lightning strike that told me I better do this,” she said. “I had perfect blood pressure. My cholesterol was great. I didn't have sleep apnea… But yeah, give me ten years and I’m not going to be so fortunate.”

So after considering weight loss surgery for several years, Katie finally took the first step. She attended a Munson Healthcare Bariatric Surgery Educational Seminar and received a referral. And ultimately, she committed to the enormous lifestyle change that comes with surgical weight loss.

“I didn’t want to be on medication or to develop sleep apnea,” she said. “I just wanted to live.”

Successful Weight-Loss Surgery and After-Care

Katie’s first meeting with Michael Nizzi, DO, FACOS, surgical director of Munson Medical Center’s Bariatric Surgery Program, was in May of 2017. After nearly a year of careful planning and research, she underwent a successful Duodenal Switch (DS) procedure the following April.

During surgery, part of Katie’s stomach was stapled off to create a sleeve. Her small intestine was also divided and only a short length of its lower portion was reattached. Because part of her small intestine is now bypassed, less calories can be absorbed.

She credits the Munson Healthcare Bariatrics team for creating a positive environment before, during, and after the procedure.

“I haven't had any real complications,” she said. “The only thing I've dealt with briefly was low blood sugar. I’ve been working through that with Wendy [Whitfield, FNB, BC, Bariatrics nurse practitioner], and she's been phenomenal. Wendy has asked me multiple times, ‘How are you feeling? Have you tried these ideas? Is what we’ve suggested working for you?’ And that was a very personal connection. I've never felt like a number.”

“Katie’s success is a reflection of her inspirational attitude,” Wendy said. “She went into this experience with self-awareness, knowing what she wanted out of it, the commitment she needed to make success happen, and a willingness to find support each step of the way. Her continued positivity, even amidst inevitable challenges, makes me smile each time I see her. I am extremely proud of her efforts and wish the same for all of our patients.”

A New Lease on Life

Post-surgery, Katie is embracing her new life and thriving. She credits her surgery for a renewed sense of self-confidence and pride. It’s a feeling that shows up in every part of her life. From reconnecting with family to finding new relationships.

“Life-changing and empowering. It’s really just amazing. And I'm proud of myself. That's such a change. I’m proud of myself because I struggled with weight my entire life.”

Katie’s a much happier person today and looks forward to seeing where a more “normal” life takes her –from shopping in local boutiques to seeing her favorite bands as Michigan concert venue restrictions begin to lift. She’s also focusing newfound energy on nurturing current friendships, creating new relationships, and enjoying the beauty of northern Michigan with her newly adopted Texas Heeler, Marley.

She also plans to add new tattoos to her growing collection of body art, with each tattoo holding meaning for some aspect of her physical and emotional transformation.

“I’m excited for my future,” she said. I'm excited for five years from now. I'm excited for ten years from now. I'm creating memories and living in the moment. And that’s just amazing to me.”

Even through COVID-19 and the uncertainty of the pandemic, Katie was able to maintain her weight loss. She credits not only the program itself, but also her newfound confidence. 

“I know there was a period where I was struggling, but I had to put myself first and focus on my mental health. This experience has proven how strong and determined I really am. Despite my weight loss, I feel like I have grown so much over the last three years.”

Advice for Those Considering Surgical Weight Loss

Katie’s advice for anyone thinking about bariatric surgery? Do the research. And ask the questions.

“Make sure you’re doing it for yourself, and for the right reasons,” she says. “Don't settle on one type of surgery because that's what a relative did or that’s what a friend had. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

“With this surgery, you learn very quickly. You change and then people struggle around your struggles as you change. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first. Because it’s not just about reaching a number on the scale. It’s really about what you’re doing to make these changes successful long-term.”

Anyone considering weight loss surgery must attend a free, one-hour virtual educational seminar, “Surgical Options for the Obese Patient,” before a surgical referral can be made. Virtual seminars are held each month. Find dates and locations here.

More Bariatric Surgery Resources

Surgery can help achieve long-term goals, but only if a patient commits to life-long changes in diet and exercise.

Munson Healthcare’s team of bariatric surgeons performs weight loss procedures only when surgery is the best choice for the patient’s health. Weight loss surgery has been shown to significantly improve health by eliminating or reducing some of the co-morbidities of obesity, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea.

To lean more, talk to your family doctor or primary care provider about a referral. Visit us online to learn more about Bariatric surgery options.

Find Bariatric Surgery Options