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Weight-loss surgery helps Coon Valley woman reclaim her health 

Weight-loss surgery helps Coon Valley woman reclaim her health 
Wednesday, March 29, 2023

before and after weight loss surgery
before and after weight loss surgery

‘Bariatric Surgery was the answer for me’  

Last year, Maggie Traastad and her husband, Kevin, visited the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan for a much-needed getaway. The Coon Valley, Wis., couple had vacationed in the Upper Peninsula before, so they were familiar with the old-growth forests, expansive vistas and crashing waterfalls that line miles of hiking trails. 

But one thing was new. 

“I kept up with Kevin the whole time,” Maggie says. “It used to be that I couldn’t. He’d have to stop and wait, but now I have so much more energy and my body can handle physical activity.” 

Maggie underwent gastric sleeve surgery in October 2020 at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis. The procedure is a type of bariatric surgery, also known as weight-loss surgery or metabolic surgery, that makes the stomach smaller. 

Before the procedure, performed by Brandon Grover, DO, Maggie had long struggled with her weight and related chronic health issues like high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and knee and ankle pain.  

“Being overweight can take a toll on you,” Maggie says. “I wasn’t able to physically do things I wanted to do.” 

After a prediabetes diagnosis, she was ready to find a long-term weight-loss solution that would work for her.  

“I wanted to do something to improve my health,” Maggie says. “I had already tried everything else.” 

“Everything” included dieting, exercising, working with a nutritionist, taking prescribed weight-loss medication and more. Maggie’s experience, like many others, highlights how difficult it can be to manage obesity.  

“Obesity is a complex disease that, in addition to significant lifestyle changes, often requires medicines and surgery to treat,” says Laura Marchiando, MD, a Gundersen Bariatric Medicine provider. “Maggie is a fantastic example of someone who had an excellent result with [weight-loss] medications and eventually did very well with surgery, too.” 

Health benefits of bariatric surgery

For some, like Maggie, bariatric surgery can be the missing puzzle piece in their health journey. 

While most people tout weight loss as the main benefit of bariatric surgery, the procedure can significantly improve a person’s well-being in other ways. Bariatric surgery can cause diabetes to go into remission, thanks to hormone changes after surgery that allow the body to better use glucose. Most patients who undergo surgery also see their blood pressure lower almost immediately. Recent research shows bariatric surgery may reduce the risk for certain types of cancers, too. 

The health benefits of bariatric surgery may seem too good to be true, but Maggie knows otherwise. Since her surgery, she’s no longer prediabetic.  

“I have no plans to ever get to that point again,” Maggie says. “Lowering my A1C was one of my main purposes of having surgery.” 

Maggie also has lowered her blood-pressure and reduced the amount of medication she needs to take to manage it. She no longer has sleep apnea. Her joints don’t hurt anymore. 

“I feel younger than I am,” Maggie says. 

With the support of her bariatric team, Maggie spent nine months preparing for surgery, learning skills that would set her up for long-term success. This groundwork put her in the best place possible for a positive outcome. After surgery, she continues to check in regularly with her care team several times a year for monitoring and support. 

“Weight-loss surgery is not a quick win,” Maggie says. “It’s something you have to work on for the rest of your life.” 

Now having conquered most of her chronic health issues—along with some of the Porcupine Mountain’s rigorous trails—that hard work is a challenge Maggie happily accepts. 

“For me, weight-loss surgery was a huge life-changing event and I’m so happy I did it,” she says. “My health is unbelievably better. Surgery was the answer for me.” 

Weight-loss surgery options at Gundersen

Interested in learning more about weight-loss surgery options at Gundersen?

Check out our short 12-minute video  

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