October 25, 2018

Bariatric Surgery at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus Changes Woman’s Life for the Better

Susan Kotsch, 56, had struggled with weight problems for what seemed like forever. After experiencing numerous health issues, she decided to make a change that would positively impact her life for years to come.

“It felt like I had tried every diet out there,” said Kotsch. “When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I weighed 323 pounds. Following my diagnosis, I did lose quite a bit of weight. Sometime after, I found out I had enlargement of the liver from fatty liver disease and I knew I needed to make some changes. My mother and uncle had passed away due to fatty liver disease from diabetes complications. My mother was only 56 when she died and I knew I didn’t want to die young like she did. I wanted to see my grandkids grow up and I really was tired of the constant battle with my weight.” 

After attending a free seminar and learning more about the bariatric surgery program at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus, Kotsch decided to have bariatric surgery. “Making the decision to have surgery really wasn’t hard for me,” said Kotsch. “By the time I met Dr. Bernita Bernsten, I was around 270 pounds. She determined that it was best for me to have the gastric sleeve surgery. I felt very strongly about my decision to have the surgery and I’m so happy I did. I absolutely love the way I feel and look. My overall health has improved drastically and my life has really changed so much since having surgery. I now have tons of energy which I never had before. I really feel like I blossomed as a person. It’s almost like I lost my shell and it’s the most incredible feeling.”

Post-surgery, Kotsch stays in a stable weight range of 168-170 pounds. Stepping on the scale keeps her accountable. “I stay motivated by weighing myself every day,” said Kotsch. “That’s something Dr. Berntsen told me to do, so I have made that a habit. I get scared thinking about putting that weight back on, so if I see myself gaining a few pounds, I make sure to lay off of whatever foods I was eating too much of. I walk at least three times a week, and I have also been taking water aerobics which has been very helpful.”

Kotsch is still amazed at the progress she has made. “When I see pictures of myself, that’s when I realize how far I’ve come,” said Kotsch. “Even some of my family members who haven’t seen me in several years don’t even recognize me after the weight loss. It makes me feel so good thinking about how I have kept this weight off. It hasn’t been easy and is a lot of work, but I will never let myself be overweight again.”

Kotsch has no regrets when it comes to her experience with weight loss surgery. “It’s the best thing I have ever done for myself,” said Kotsch. “I would make the choice to have the surgery again and again. If you are overweight and worried about your health, have the surgery. Make your dreams come true.” 

The University of Kansas Physicians Topeka – General, Vascular and Bariatric Surgery, part of The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus, offers a full range of bariatric surgery procedures and support services for those seeking weight loss solutions. Our surgeons have performed more than 3,000 bariatric surgeries since 2002. All are board-certified in general surgery and are fellows of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

To learn more about bariatric surgery options available at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus, click here.

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