Weight loss management, bariatric surgery turn Emporia woman’s life around

Health Check

EMPORIA, Kan. (KSNT) – Karen Gutierrez of Emporia weighed 307 pounds about a year ago.

“I couldn’t walk across my living room at 307 pounds without huffing and puffing,” Gutierrez said. “I was in denial thinking I am not that big.”

Ultimately, it was her mother’s dying wish that urged her to get help.

“I made a promise to myself first and foremost to get healthy, but my motivation has been my mother,” Gutierrez said. “I have been promising her and I knew this is what she wanted.”

Amber Groeling, a dietitian with the Cotton O’Neil Weight Management Center, said Gutierrez struck her as someone who is committed because she had a reason for “why.”

“I always ask someone, why are you doing this? I want to know what the reason for doing this life-altering procedure would be,” Groeling said. “And her reason was her mom.”

Karen turned to the Cotton O’Neil Weight Management Center in Topeka for help and had bariatric surgery last year.

“We decrease the size of the stomach over a sizer. We turn it from a big balloon, which is the regular stomach, into a narrow tube,” Dr. Partha Bhurtel, the Director of Bariatric Surgery at Stormont Vail, said. “What it does, is it limits the amount of food a person can eat. Also the part of the stomach we take out produces the hunger hormone so that decreases the amount of hunger a person has.”

Alongside the surgery, Gutierrez participated in months of classes at the Weight Management Center.

“Typically our program is a 6-month program because we want to really make sure our patients understand that it’s not the easy way out. It’s a tool and life long commitment to that healthier lifestyle,” Groeling said.

Today, Gutierrez eats healthier, exercises five days a week and went from a size 24 to a 12.

“I know that my mom is proud of me, and that’s the main reason I have done this. She knows I am healthy now,” Gutierrez said.

Bariatric Surgery is not for everyone, though. According to the Weight Management Center, qualifications for the surgery include:

  • Any patient with a BMI of over 30
  • Patients with a BMI of over 27 who also have other conditions related to their weight, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol

For more information on the Cotton O’Neil Weight Management Center call (785) 354-9591 or visit the center’s website.

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