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Better Weight, Better Life

January 03, 2020
Better Weight, Better Life

After Lifetime of Obesity, Man Finds Permanent Solution with Weight Loss Surgery

Michael Jackson had been obese for as long as he could remember. That was in 2018, before he had gastric bypass surgery.

“In first grade, I weighed almost 100 pounds; I weighed 225 at age 14,” he says. “When I graduated from college, I weighed around 320-325. I was generally the most obese kid in my class.”

In September 2018, he had Roux-en-Y surgery at TriHealth to staple off part of his stomach and reposition his small intestine to receive food from the smaller stomach pouch. He lost 120 pounds in seven months. “I started shedding weight immediately – every day a pound or two,” he says.

Choosing Surgery

On three separate occasions before gastric bypass surgery, Michael had lost 100 pounds through dieting on his own. "It was unhealthy. I restricted myself to 400 to 500 calories a day, plus exercise." The weight loss never lasted.

Watching his father struggle with diabetes and its effects, including a toe amputation last year, gave Michael added incentive to lose weight.

At age 42, with a successful career in a logistics company, he has higher aspirations for his health and his life. "I had been struggling with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea. I mentioned to my nurse practitioner that I’d like to get gastric bypass surgery, and she recommended Dr. [George] Kerlakian."

He met with Dr. Kerlakian, a gastric bypass surgeon at TriHealth Weight Management, who explained the pros and cons of the surgery. Michael pondered the decision for the next year. "It’s major surgery," he reflects. "They’re rearranging your organs. I was looking down the long road and thought I still have to do this."

Once he made the decision, Michael completed the necessary steps to prepare for surgery, including meeting with a dietitian and psychologist. “Gina, the dietitian, was awesome. She was very informative, knowledgeable and supportive."

Dr. Kerlakian also boosted his confidence: "He was incredible. Very empathetic, with impeccable professionalism and bedside manner. He wants to help you make your life better."

A Life-Changer

After Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery and following diet and exercise recommendations, weight loss happened easily for Michael. Due to his smaller stomach pouch, he was eating less food at meals As Michael comments, "You fill up so fast."

At 221 pounds, he has achieved and exceeded his weight loss goals, and his blood work is within normal ranges.

He likes to work out at a local gym–swimming, weightlifting, doing upper body strength and conditioning and using an elliptical machine. His favorite pastime is hiking with his dog, Chase, in French Park in Amberley Village.

Michael has no regrets about weight loss surgery. He notes his greater ease and confidence in social situations. Buying jeans in a store, sitting comfortably on a plane or an amusement park ride, and taking his shirt off on a Florida beach are activities that once produced anxiety. Now, they’re part of Michael’s new normal.

"Being obese made me feel ostracized and marginalized," he says. "What I like best now is feeling like a normal person."

For others facing the decision to have weight loss surgery, he advises, "Just do it. It will change your life. You’ll feel better, look better, accomplish more things and be more active. In life, people want to be healthy and happy. Getting this surgery can help you be healthier and happier."