This article is presented in partnership with MU Health Care.

Megan Lawson has been adventurous throughout her life. Growing up, she loved the rides at theme parks and enjoyed cruising her family’s land near Marshall, Missouri, on her all-terrain vehicle. But as Lawson grew up, she struggled with her weight.

“I got myself down into a hole, and I started to question myself. ‘Is this the plan I have set for myself ? Is this how my life is going to be?’ ” said Lawson, 34. “I didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted to live my life and enjoy it.”

Lawson turned to MU Health Care’s Missouri Bariatric Services after watching two of her friends lose weight and regain their health following treatment at the clinic. By this point, Lawson weighed 347 pounds and had developed type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. She took insulin and five other medications.

She met with MU Health Care’s chief of bariatric surgery, Andrew Wheeler, MD, who helped her decide which weight loss procedure to pursue in the fall of 2018. Lawson decided to have gastric bypass surgery, a procedure that reduces the size of the stomach and bypasses part of the small intestines. After the surgery, Lawson ate less and absorbed fewer calories to decrease both food consumption and absorption.

“Megan was very dedicated to losing weight and regaining her health through the gastric bypass procedure,” Wheeler said. “We see the most success at resolving diabetes from this surgery since it’s a metabolic operation that affects how your body processes, burns, and stores food. It even helps the body react better to the insulin a person normally produces.”

After spending one night in the hospital, Lawson headed home to start the next phase of her new life. Lawson had to relearn new eating habits to allow her body to adjust to her new stomach. She slowly added liquids before moving on to soft and then hard foods. She also built exercise into her routine.

“You can’t just have surgery and sit around,” Lawson said. “My treadmill was my best friend because it was indoors in the middle of the living room, so I didn’t have an excuse not to do it. Obviously, I eat
smaller portions and still enjoy the things I like, just in moderation.” In addition to the preoperative and postoperative classes, Missouri Bariatric Services offers long-term support from the doctors, staff, and
other former patients to help new patients succeed.

“Treating obesity can be a complex process, so we have a very large team in place to help our patients be successful,” Wheeler said. “From our dietitians to our surgeons to our mental health providers to our office staff and insurance specialists — we make sure people are both safe and successful with weight loss surgery.”

Since her surgery, Lawson has lost more than 150 pounds. She is no longer diabetic and is off all of her medications. She credits her success to both the surgery and her dedication, and she urges people considering surgery to not be afraid.

To see if weight loss surgery is right for you, take MU Health Care’s assessment at