Patient Stories

Weight loss can transform your health, your relationships and your overall enjoyment of life. Our patients know that better than anyone – take Britt for example.

Before reaching out to the bariatric surgery team at Park Nicollet, Britt was eating healthy and exercising regularly, but when she developed sleep apnea, she knew it was time to seek additional support.

Two years after her surgery, Britt has lost 95% of her excess body weight. But for her, it’s not just about the number on the scale. It's about the little moments in life with her family and partner that have become so much more special to her. Whether it's doing yoga, going ice skating, or riding bikes, Britt is able to enjoy these activities with the people she loves most.

Britt’s story is just one we’ve been lucky to be a part of. Read on to see what others who have trusted us with their weight loss journey have experienced.

Read on for more experiences from others who have trusted us with their weight loss journey.


Age: 62
Weight loss: 397 at highest weight, 240 now with continued weight loss

Mary had experienced difficult times in her life. Between struggling with her weight after being diagnosed with major health problems, she was also helping her family care for her beloved mother.

Mary didn’t feel like she had much time to focus on herself. The stress of her mother’s health issues, and her continued long-term prednisone use contributed to her weight gain. After Mary’s mother passed away in March of 2016, she reached a breaking point and decided to take control of her health and her life. She went to the Bariatric Surgery and Weight Center to talk seriously about her weight loss options.

“I went in with a total blank slate,” she says. “They asked me about my goals and what I felt comfortable with. I told them I wanted to be off insulin due to Type II Diabetes and to look and feel healthier overall.” She realized that she was “no expert” when it came to weight loss and was open to their expertise and guidance.

There were many steps in her treatment plan. First, her doctors wanted her to be seen at Melrose Center to evaluate if she had a binge eating disorder. Then, because of her many health issues, she needed to see doctors in a few different specialties for their approval to move forward with the clinic’s recommended vertical sleeve procedure.

Prior to surgery, the program had classes, including homework. Mary was determined to do whatever they asked, which included a 30-day liquid diet. She did her best to plan for the procedure by setting manageable goals – including one to stop drinking Coke Zero and other forms of caffeine – and she ended up losing 30 pounds during this process.

Surgery was scheduled for December 7, 2017, at Methodist Hospital. Mary picked that date for extra luck as it was her grandmother’s birthday.

The surgery was successful, and Mary said the only downside was that she was slightly uncomfortable and tired afterward. Two months post-surgery, Mary was off insulin. Six months after surgery, she finally felt like she got her energy back.

“I knew that every day was going to get better,” she said. She followed the eating plan set forth by the clinic’s dieticians and nutritionists, attended all post-surgical appointments, and did her best not to look at YouTube or read blogs about other people’s bariatric weight loss journey. She knew that every journey would look different, and she didn’t want to compare herself to others.

After surgery, life looks different for Mary. In May 2019, she completed her first 5k walk. She got a pedometer and is now up to almost 10,000 steps a day and does chair yoga six days a week. She is an attorney and hopes to get back to work in her field in the near future.

She orders in nearly all of her food, using delivery services for groceries. She feels that it is a great way to avoid temptation by not shopping while she is hungry or picking up unhealthy items.

Her goals now are less about a weight loss number and more about how she feels both physically and emotionally. She enjoys getting into smaller clothes and feeling lighter on her feet. She is in the process seeing a surgeon to remove excess skin and looks forward to a happy and healthy future as she continues with her weight loss journey.

Mary encourages others to learn about their weight loss options. “I was on all the diets and they didn’t work,” she said. “Trust yourself. If you’re thinking about this, you’re starting your journey to better health and you should move forward. The benefits are wonderful!”


Age: 59
Weight loss: 396 at highest weight, 280 now

Mark had been overweight since his teenage years, and as he got older, he continued to gain weight.

“Everyone knows that it’s not good to carry extra weight, but sometimes you just feel stuck,” Mark said. “I knew I couldn’t carry this into retirement and feel healthy and happy.”

He’d had some success with other programs, but nothing lasted. The weight always came back.

Mark said he felt fortunate that he’d “hit the genetic jackpot” and didn’t have many health issues related to his weight. But he said he could see issues coming down the road. His blood pressure continued to creep up during his 30s and 40s. And in addition to dealing with Crohn’s disease (not related to obesity) since his teens, his doctor identified that he had fatty liver disease and may have been pre-diabetic.

“I realized I needed to do something more dramatic. More productive,” Mark said. “I needed to be an active participant in my weight loss.” He got serious about his goals in January 2017 and had his first appointment at the Bariatric Surgery and Weight Center with Dr. Strohm.

Over the next year, he went through the program steps and insurance process to get approved for surgery, and it was finally scheduled for August 2018. Mark says Dr. Luthra spent over an hour talking through the procedure with him. “Everything was so thorough and he helped put me at ease.”

Mark says the hardest part leading up to the surgery was the 10-day liquid diet. “It got me prepared for what was to come, but it was definitely a shock on my system. That was the only time I had any physical discomfort.”

The surgery was a success. Mark said it took a couple of months to re-introduce himself to food post-surgery. For the first time, he was hungry for something good. He ended up craving apples and salad.

“My blood pressure numbers are coming down, and even my Crohn’s disease is more manageable with the weight I’ve lost,” Mark said.

Mark is excited about his life after surgery. He says that after losing weight, he’s found joy in surprising places. Last holiday season, he discovered he needed new sweatpants. He couldn’t believe that he was able to go to a regular department store and find pants that fit him. “It was amazing,” he said.

“You do feel better, no aches and pains. You’re able to do more things and see people you haven’t seen in a while.” He added, “Just going out to the theater, being on an airplane or going to a concert. I could finally go to a basketball game and not get wedged in the seat. I could enjoy the experiences around me.”

Mark believes that the program at the Bariatric Surgery and Weight Center is a fantastic tool. He said that diet programs don’t always work for people. He needed to do something more vigorous. “It’s a thorough and comprehensive program,” he explained. “They prepare you for what’s to come. You aren’t going to have surgery next month. It’s a process.”

He recommends the program to others. “Go to the group meetings. Take your time eating. I still struggle with that and need to plan a little bit.” Mark says he’d like to see more weight loss, but he’s really happy with the progress he’s already made.


Age: 26
Weight loss: 370 at highest weight, now down 150 pounds

Kelsey was always a very reserved person. She didn’t like to stand out or draw attention to herself because of her weight. She had other health problems, too, including PCOS, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.

In November of 2016, she spoke with an aunt who had vertical sleeve surgery. Kelsey saw the life-changing results of her aunt’s surgery and thought about her own challenges with weight and self-confidence.

It wasn’t until November 2017 that she finally decided to take the leap and make an appointment with the Bariatric Surgery and Weight Center. “I went into the appointment just wanting to understand all the options available to me,” she said.

Kelsey was graduating college that December, and at 26 years old, she didn’t want her weight and health issues to carry into the future. She wanted to have a full life, and knew that it wasn’t possible the way things were going.

That initial appointment was the first time she’d seen her weight in quite some time – 370 pounds. Kelsey had her appointment with Robert and describes him as very patient and understanding. He reassured her that she had many options, and that if she was dedicated to this, he could help her.

Next, Kelsey met with Melrose Center to see if she was experiencing an eating disorder. She went to therapy and they helped her identify triggers and improve habits related to food. She began taking an appetite suppressant in addition to working out at the gym, and she lost 70 pounds before the surgery.

Kelsey had the vertical sleeve procedure done in August of 2018. She lost 100 pounds post-surgery, and with the changes she’s made to her lifestyle, she said the whole experience has been transformative.

“I wish I would’ve done it sooner,” she said. “I feel like my whole life is completely different.”

Mentally, Kelsey describes herself as significantly healthier. She’s improved how she deals with stress and isn’t afraid to speak up anymore. Kelsey says that she’s been through so much change, nothing is going to get in her way. Her top priority is taking care of herself.

Today, Kelsey exercises five days a week and does yoga. She’s in remission with diabetes, has a regular period for the first time in her life and doesn’t have high blood pressure anymore. She has a trainer at the gym and they’re working to tone her stomach so she doesn’t need plastic surgery. She’s content with her weight, but has not yet reached her personal goal.

Kelsey is more socially active now, and believes she has a fuller life. She doesn’t want to hide anymore and is proud of how far she’s come. “I encourage people to see what the team at the Bariatric Surgery and Weight Center has to say,” she said. “The sleeve is so safe. I had no complications. It’s like a dream.”

She dedicates much of her success to the habits that were developed throughout the bariatrics program and at Melrose Center. “The program is so supportive. I’m a completely different person,” she said.

“It’s worked so well for me – I couldn’t recommend it more. If I can benefit, so can you.”