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Gastric bypass surgery can help solve potential life-threatening health issues

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POSTED November 3, 2013 11:46 p.m.

Before he underwent gastric bypass surgery six months ago for health reasons, Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer had to attend pre-surgical preparatory classes in Modesto.

“Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries make changes to your digestive system to help lose weight by limiting how much you can eat or by reducing the absorption of nutrients, or both,” according to the Mayo Clinic staff in the web article at “Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries are done when diet and exercise haven’t worked or when you have serious health problems because of your weight.”

Heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and diabetes are some of the weight-related health problems for which gastric bypass surgery can be done, as in the case of Messer, to reduce the risk of potentially life-threatening health issues.

The Mayo Clinic report added, “There are many types of weight-loss surgery, known collectively as bariatric surgery. Gastric bypass is one of the most common types of bariatric surgery in the United States. Many surgeons prefer gastric bypass surgery because it generally has fewer complications than do other weight-loss surgeries.”

These and other information are discussed during the series of informational classes that Messer attended before the surgery.

Messer had an advantage prior to making the decision to undergo the laparoscopic surgery in May. His brother and sister-in-law both went through the same thing with successful results.

One of the requisites that qualified him to have the surgery was his BMI of 37, or body mass index. A BMI of 35-39.9 is considered obese, a sign that one has serious weight-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or severe sleep apnea, as was in the case of Messer. In some cases, one may qualify for certain types of weight-loss surgery if their BMI is 30 to 34 and they have serious weight-related health problems.

While the surgery for Messer was laparoscopic which is not invasive, it required total anesthesia which means one is unconscious throughout the procedure.

There are several stringent restrictions on eating and drinking before surgery also. Messer had to drink water only and no solid foods allowed three days prior to surgery. That, to him, was the most difficult part of the entire procedure, pre and post op. But the surgery itself was painless. He laughed as he noted that his wife Kristen had had more pain when she had their two daughters - one is in college studying to be a nurse, and the younger is in high school at Venture Academy in Stockton.

Without insurance, the procedure could cost $18,000 to $20,000. But Messer said health-related gastric bypass operations may be covered by insurance. For those who are looking into this surgical procedure, he suggests doing a research on their insurance benefits to find out whether they are eligible for medical coverage

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