Establish care: 218.249.4000
General questions: 218.249.5555

Patient Stories

Weight Loss Surgery: Patient Stories

Alexsis Saarela: Lost 130 Pounds, Gained New Energy for Life

It all started when I found out a friend of mine had lost 150 pounds. I was shocked since I had only ever known her as thin. Being aware that I could stand to lose that much weight myself, I reached out to her and found that she had accomplished this through weight loss surgery.

I immediately told her I’d be way too scared to ever even consider that option. Then she made a great point: my life was more in danger from obesity-related complications than it ever was going to be from weight loss surgery.

Grateful for the truth, I decided I to move forward.

I went to a surgical weight loss information session at St. Luke’s the following week, and then an initial consult with a surgeon a week later kicked off a six-month journey to prepare me for surgery. When I make a decision, I’m all in. I told myself it was going to be really hard, but it actually felt super easy.

On November 9, 2017, I had gastric sleeve surgery at St. Luke’s, removing about 80% my stomach.

Now, at 130 pounds lighter, I can’t believe how different my life has become. I can care for my husband and two daughters with new energy, and I don’t feel one bit deprived, which I was really scared of. If I want something, I can have a small bite and feel satisfied.

Thanks to St. Luke’s, I’m living my best life. I look good, and I feel good.


Jordan Kalm

Like many people, my weight had been a veritable roller coaster. I had tried many “fad diets” through the years, as well as a medical weight loss program. However, after gaining all of the weight back that I had lost, I decided I needed another tool to help me be successful. This came in the form of sleeve gastrectomy surgery in December of 2014.

It was one of the best decisions of my life; a decision I would make 10 out of 10 times.

There are two specific features that I appreciate most about St. Luke’s Surgical Weight Loss Program: the exceptional team approach to care, and the lifestyle changes that I was taught wholly prepared me to be successful.

I was able to achieve – and maintain – my goals: to be confident in myself physically, to be able to keep up with my children, and to extend my joy in life beyond food.

The whole experience was positive. The team members (dietitians, psychologists, physician assistants, surgeons) understand the struggles that come with weight loss. They actively worked with me towards success, from pre-surgery care to post-surgery follow up.


Lynn Kuehnow

My doctor referred me to the surgical weight loss program and I attended the info session pretty soon after. I was very motivated to move through the process and have the surgery. I really recommend doing exactly what the doctor tells you to do. It may sound silly to have to lose weight before the surgery and go on a liquid diet two weeks prior, but it’s great because it helps prove your commitment. If you’re not serious before, you’re not going to be serious after. I’ve lost more than 100 pounds, going from a size 18 to a size 2. It’s not a miracle surgery because it takes commitment from the individual, but I was dedicated and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

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St. Luke’s, 915 East First Street, Duluth, MN 55805
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Establish care: 218.249.4000
General questions: 218.249.5555

915 East First Street
Duluth, MN 55805