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Busy Jim Thorpe Mom’s Weight Loss Promotes Health, Confidence

Bariatric surgery at LVH–Hazleton was an easy decision for Kristy Berger

Kristy Berger is one busy woman. 

A single mother of two young children, she works part-time at a grocery store and is pursuing her degree in elementary education. And in the middle of all that, her weight became an unhealthy obstacle.

“I gained a lot of weight after having my two children,” she says. “And with two children, I didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the gym to try to lose the weight. It just wasn’t feasible.” With her children involved in activities, eating healthy was a challenge as they often had to grab something on the go.

Making the decision

At nearly 300 pounds, she wanted to be able to keep up with her children, ages 4 and 5, without getting easily exhausted. She began talking with another mother at her daughter’s day care, a woman who previously had bariatric surgery at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). That spurred Berger, of Jim Thorpe, to seek more information through LVHN and attend the six months of mandatory classes before having surgery. She had to lose a small amount of weight for her health insurance to cover the surgery and that in itself was a struggle, she says.

On July 1, 2021, surgeon Michael Mahoney, DO, performed Berger’s laparoscopic bariatric surgery at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Hazleton. Berger, at 29, underwent a sleeve gastrectomy, where about 75 percent of her stomach was removed, leaving a narrow tube, or sleeve, of stomach.

“This isn’t that 600-pound-life television show. Everybody’s goal coming in is to lose weight and become healthier. Almost universally, they are glad they had the surgery.” - Michael Mahoney, DO

Mahoney says the vast majority of his bariatric surgery patients don’t need to lose hundreds of pounds. “This isn’t that 600-pound-life television show,” he says. “Everybody’s goal coming in is to lose weight and become healthier. Almost universally, they are glad they had the surgery.”

Getting back into life

Berger says she didn’t lose a lot of weight in the first six months after surgery. But then, it started coming off. Today, she’s down to 135 pounds. “I’ve never felt better, and I’ve never felt better about myself,” she says. “I have so much more energy.”

Berger says she had a lot of support before and after her surgery from her mother, who’s also her next-door neighbor, and friends.

Like most bariatric surgery patients, Berger says she needed to be mentally strong and ready for the lifestyle and eating habit changes that come with weight-loss surgery. “You also have to be mentally strong for what people are going to say,” she says. That includes comments that having surgery was somehow taking the easy road to weight loss.

“My goal was to be healthy. They don’t see the tough times. It’s a real lifestyle change,” she says.

The right decision

Mahoney says Berger is doing “fantastic” more than a year out from her surgery. Berger had high praise for Mahoney and the entire bariatric surgery program at LVHN.

“Dr. Mahoney is great. He’s laid back and welcoming, which I like,” she says. “Everyone is very accommodating. They all want the best for you and they’re always on your side.”

Berger says she’s had old friends reach out to her on social media to ask about her bariatric surgery experience. “I tell them it’s not something you can jump into,” she says. “It’s a big commitment. I’m not going to lie. It’s hard at first. You have a liquid diet for weeks. It’s not only about what you eat, but how you eat.”

When all is said and done, Berger says bariatric surgery was “absolutely worth it.”

When she graduates with her teaching degree in 2024, Berger will start yet another chapter in her life. She’s already written the weight-loss chapter – and it had a happy ending.

Kristy lost 147 lbs through Bariatric Surgery at Lehigh Valley Health Network

Weight-loss surgery

Weight-loss surgery can be a life-changing procedure for many people. At Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), we have the most established bariatric surgery program in the region, which is part of Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence. We perform hundreds of successful surgeries every year, including gastric sleeve, gastric bypass and revision surgeries. Take the first step today!

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