Bariatric Surgery Gives Holmdel Car Salesman New Life   

Bariatric Surgery Gives Holmdel Car Salesman New Life

Ryan Gastgeber

March 15, 2023

“I love you, but I can’t see you kill yourself anymore.” Those heart-piercing words from Ryan Gastgeber’s girlfriend, Jenna, led him to change his whole life.

At 689 pounds, 34-year-old Ryan described himself then as a “ticking time bomb.” As a boy, he’d always been big but healthy. When his caregiver grandmother died, he entered an emotional tailspin, which led to him drop out of high school and live in rented rooms, relying mostly on fast food to eat. When his father died a few years later, he completely gave up on his health.

Taking the First Steps

Jenna’s statement made Ryan decide to fight for his life. He made an appointment for a bariatric evaluation and met Karl Strom, M.D. “Dr. Strom showed me there was hope for me and that the door to shedding my excess weight through bariatric surgery could open for me if I put in the effort,” Ryan says.

Adds Dr. Strom: “Ryan was a young person who had limitations in his daily lifestyle because of his weight. Fortunately, he didn’t have any severe comorbidities, such as hypertension, diabetes or sleep apnea, that would likely develop in the near future. But he had a very high body mass index [BMI] that he could not correct through diet alone.”

Before Ryan could qualify for surgery, he had to demonstrate his commitment to losing weight. Working with a nutritionist and psychological counselor, he exercised daily and changed his eating habits. “I cut sugar and ate grilled chicken constantly for a while,” he says.  

After he lost 75 pounds, surgery was scheduled.

An Unexpected Complication

When Ryan arrived for his surgery, an unexpected complication was identified: His current weight exceeded the limit of the operating room table. His surgery had to be delayed a week so that the team could bring in a new table with a higher weight limit.

“It was the most frustrating feeling,” Ryan remembers. “Since I wasn’t anesthetized yet, they released me from the hospital, and I went right back to work, so I wouldn’t be focusing on it.”

His care team stuck with him to help him mentally overcome this setback and continue to keep his eye on the prize.

A week later, on September 21, 2021, Ryan underwent a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy procedure in which several very small incisions are made and the stomach is reduced to about the size of a banana. Part of the tissue that is removed includes the ghrelin gland, which causes people to feel hungry.

Ryan says the team members who handled his care were amazing, and he appreciated having a certified bariatric nurse on his case.

Reaping the Rewards

Ryan is ecstatic about the results. So far, he has shed 269 pounds and continues his diet and exercise. Dr. Strom anticipates that Ryan will get down to at least 300 pounds, significantly less than half his original weight.

Ryan’s success has enabled him to give up his oversized vehicle with automatic transmission for a fun smaller car with a stick shift, all-wheel drive and great gas mileage. “It’s comfortable, and I feel fantastic!” says Ryan, who is a car salesman.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.



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