Bariatric Surgery: Beth's Journey

After Beth Prentzler gave birth to her children, she struggled with her weight.

photo of Beth

After Beth Prentzler gave birth to her children, she struggled with her weight. “I could always lose weight but could never keep it off,” she says. “I would lose weight, then gain it back, lose it again and then gain it back.

“I fought this battle for 14 years,” she continues, “always thinking that the next diet, diet pill or exercise program would be the key to my success.” Watching her results slip away time after time took a toll on Prentzler's spirit.

“I hated myself because I couldn't sustain long-term results,” she says. Eventually, she knew something would have to give. “I was tired of the insanity, emotionally exhausted from the despair I felt over all of my failed attempts at weight loss, and I realized that I had to do something I had never done before to lose this weight.”

Preparing for a change

“In 2014, it finally dawned on me that this vicious cycle would go on for the rest of my life if I didn’t do something different,” Prentzler says. She knew a few coworkers who had undergone bariatric surgery at MU and were pleased with their results, so after doing some research, she got in touch with MU Health Care’s Bariatric Services.

“My contact with MU bariatrics center was always a great experience,” she says. “The staff are super friendly and responded to my questions in a timely manner. I never felt judged, and I was always treated with respect.”

Before her insurance would approve her surgery,Prentzler was asked to undergo a six-month-long medically supervised weight loss program, supervised by Kevin Suttmoeller, DO. Beth was nervous about surgery, and she shared her concerns with Dr. Suttmoeller. “He always listened to me, explaining my weight loss battle in ways that actually made me feel better about myself instead of worse.”

“I wanted to feel like I exhausted all methods before committing to [surgery],” she says. “Dr. Suttmoeller was receptive to this, so we tried two medications to lose weight during that time.”

Prentzler also worked with Michelle Hoenig, a registered dietitian, for diet consultation and preparation for her life after the surgery. “She was always friendly and positive, and I walked away from her classes having learned so much about nutrition,” she says. “Most importantly, I felt better prepared to make this life change.”

A new chapter

Bariatric surgery is a major operation. Although Prentzler had no complications and returned to work a week after her procedure, “my body and mind went on a rollercoaster ride for about three months,” she recalls. She experienced some moodiness because of her post-op dietary restrictions, and her body was sore as it healed. She wanted to feel “normal” again. “But around that three-month mark, it was like the rain stopped, and the rainbow came out,” she says. “ I had energy again, I wanted to exercise – that’s totally a new experience for me –, my mood improved drastically, and I knew that I had made the right decision.”

As for her weight-loss goal, Beth started to see results immediately. She lost inches off her waist, calves, thighs, arms, neck, and hips, and the number on the scale continued to drop. “When weight loss stalled, and the scale stopped moving, my body was still shedding inches,” she says. “I lost weight for about eight to nine months and then got to my new ‘magic number’ where I have been for the past 10 months.” Her goal was to lose 80 pounds, her lowest weight since she had her children. To date, Prentzler lost more than 100 pounds.

“I am still shocked when I look in the mirror,” she says. “I love my body now. It doesn’t look exactly like it did in high school, but that's OK. It’s beautiful to me. I feel confident, energetic and full of life.”

For more information on bariatric surgery, visit muhealth.org/bariatrics.