Dr. William D. Stembridge, 33, of Moultrie, Georgia, who has been on the Sterling Center Bariatrics team for only a few months, has become a general and bariatric surgeon in a community he already knows well.
After researching with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta after college, he chose to go to medical school to further his interest in and appreciation for public health.
Stembridge did not have the easiest time choosing a specialty, but in the end, he found the one that appealed to him the most.
“I realized that the general surgeons training me had the most capacity to help a broad spectrum of patients in a hands-on manner – from young to old, healthy to extremely sick,” he said
After his residency, fellowship, and training were complete, it became time for him and his wife, Pallavi, who is a cardiologist at Sterling Group Cardiology, to look for jobs.
“I have family from Moultrie,” he said. “My dad grew up here, and we learned about the hospital’s interest in us via a series of word-of-mouth conversations between dad and friends.”
Stembridge recently received his certification from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. He explained some of his work and certain procedures he performs.
“Roux-en-Y gastric bypass has existed for decades and is technically the gold standard operation in weight loss surgery,” he said. “Sleeve gastrectomy has gained a lot of popularity lately as another excellent weight loss operation with similar results but a quicker operation.”
Certain indications determine if a patient needs a traditional gastric bypass for their initial or revisional surgery. Sleeve gastrectomies average about 45 minutes of surgery. Gastric bypass is 2.5-3 hours of surgery, according to Stembridge.
“The surgery is more technically and anatomically complex than sleeve gastrectomy and involves both restriction – patients can eat less food – and malabsorption – patients digest food less effectively – that combine to create excellent weight loss and more profound metabolic effects that can resolve diabetes and hypertension,” he said.
While Stembridge enjoys hobbies outside of work like biking, fishing, and hunting, he is also a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army and Georgia Army National Guard and spends a weekend each month drilling with his unit. But even so, he has also participated in at least 750 or more bariatric surgeries during his training. He gave a run-down of the gastric bypass procedure and its requirements.
“The gastric bypass involves reducing the size of the stomach and then forming a bypassed portion of the intestines such that ingested food and digestive enzymes don’t meet until much further along in the intestinal tract than in normal anatomy,” Stembridge said. “For any weight loss surgery, we typically ask patients to invest in a conventional weight loss program as guided by our surgeons, dietitians, and weight loss coaches leading up to the surgery and thereafter. Our program is not limited to certain operations; it is a lifelong program that primes the patents for best weight loss and resolution of their comorbid medical conditions. This means education, teaching, dieting, and exercise training such that they are set up for success. The operation is only a single piece of the program, but a very powerful one that makes a huge difference. We perform all operations via minimally invasive surgery. There is a prescribed diet progression postoperatively that accounts for healing of the surgical changes, hydration, weight loss and calorie restriction, and protein and vitamin repletion.”
Stembridge gets to do all this and more at Sterling Center Bariatrics. He enjoys helping his patients take control of their health and be successful.
“Seeing a patient come to me out of his or her own will with a resolution to work on his or her obesity and the many medical problems it facilitates and then watching that patient realize that goal is amazing,” he said. “Our patients get to learn a plethora of knowledge about obesity; how, when, where, and what to eat; appropriate exercise; healthy living; and recovery from surgery. I see them all throughout the process, both before and after surgery, and love to meet with them six months post-op to talk to them about their massive weight losses, how they have drastically cut down their medications needed, and how well they feel. It’s very inspiring.”