Krista Kretman wanted nothing more than to have a second child.
After experiencing two miscarriages and difficulty managing her weight—both caused in part by her polycystic ovary syndrome—Kretman hoped weight loss surgery could be the kick-start she needed to find a healthier way of life.
She consulted with a care team at the University of Minnesota Health Weight Loss Management and Surgery Center and found she was eligible for gastric bypass surgery, a common surgery that involves dividing the stomach and rearranging the small intestine. But Kretman didn’t want the invasive procedure.
Instead, she chose a newer, less-invasive weight-management surgery—known as a sleeve gastrectomy. The procedure involves fashioning a new, smaller stomach, which reduces the space for food and drink to roughly the size of a banana. University of Minnesota Health bariatric surgeons take a minimally invasive approach for this surgery, which results in smaller incisions and improved recovery times for patients.
University of Minnesota Health Bariatric Surgeon Daniel Leslie, MD, who is the director of the M Health bariatric surgery program, cautions that surgery is not an end-all, be-all solution to a healthier life.
To achieve success, patients must make a commitment to lifestyle changes, such as a better diet and regular physical activity.
“There is no free weight loss,” he said.
Kretman took that to heart.
Kretman underwent surgery in December 2014 with Bariatric Surgeon Sayeed Ikramuddin, MD. In just a 12-month span, she lost nearly 140 pounds of excess weight.
“I don’t like being average,” she said laughing.
Along with surgery, Kretman drastically changed her diet. She focused on a modified liquid diet initially, and later transitioned to a protein-based diet. She also worked out with a personal trainer twice a week and got outside every day with her husband, Matthew, and toddler daughter, Isabelle.
Now, she runs up to seven miles daily. In October, she completed the 10-mile race at the Twin Cities Marathon. As she ran by University of Minnesota Medical Center on the course that day, her transformation overwhelmed her.
“I just bawled at that point,” she said. “Looking back at my life 10 months prior, I would never have dreamed of running a race.”
While Kretman said the changes weren’t as hard as she expected, it still took a tremendous amount of work, both before and after the surgery. Typically, surgeons request patients lose 10 pounds before the procedure to show dedication to change. That was no problem for Kretman, who blew past that number.
“It was important to have the whole healthy mindset of nutrition and exercising,” she said. “Embracing that lifestyle was a big motivator. I wanted to be around.”
Learn more about weight loss surgery options at University of Minnesota Medical Center.
Eligible patients must have tried to lose weight without long-term success and have a BMI over 40, or over 35 with associated medical problems, Leslie said. Before undergoing any bariatric surgery, patients must also complete a series of consultations with M Health care providers to ensure patients are psychologically ready for the procedure. Patients must also partner with a dietitian for a three-month period.
The sleeve gastrectomy accounts for more than half of bariatric surgeries in the United States, Leslie said. At University of Minnesota
Medical Center, the procedure accounts for 90 percent of all bariatric surgeries.
There are risks, of course, Leslie said, but they are far fewer than the more invasive gastric bypass. On average for his patients, gastric bypass patients have lost 96 pounds. Sleeve recipients have lost 86 pounds. Leslie says the difference is worth avoiding possible deficiencies and a heavily-altered anatomy.
Kretman, down multiple dress sizes, says the surgery has made a healthy pregnancy and a family of four possible.
“The surgery saved my life and I gained my health back,” she said. “It’s been an incredible journey.”