CATHEDRAL CITY – Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pettis will undergo weight-loss surgery at Riverside Community Hospital on Aug. 31, Pettis confirmed for Uken Report.


Gavin Newsom and Greg Pettis

Pettis, 61, will undergo gastric bypass surgery on the advice of his general practitioner, internal medicine physician, cardiologist and endocrinologist. He is expected to be hospitalized for two to three days.

At 5-feet, 10 inches tall and 282 pounds, Pettis said he was “medically diagnosed as obese.”

In 2015–2016, the most recent data available, the prevalence of obesity was 39.8 percent in adults and 18.5 percent in youth, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

He has pondered having the surgery for several years but never made the leap. Everything came to a head in January when he became ill, Pettis said. He was bleeding internally and needed two, two-liter blood transfusions.  He was anemic, leaving him tired and short on energy. He suffered from high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He was also diagnosed with three ulcers.

He is currently taking 11 medications. After surgery, he will be able to dispense of four of them immediately, Pettis said.

Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries make changes to the digestive system to help people lose weight by limiting how much they can eat or by reducing the absorption of nutrients, or both, according to the Mayo Clinic. Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries are done when diet and exercise haven’t worked or when people have serious health problems because of their weight.

Gastric bypass is one of the most common types of bariatric surgery in the United States. Many surgeons prefer gastric bypass surgery because it generally has fewer complications than do other weight-loss surgeries. Last year alone, there were 228,000 bariatric surgeries, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Though popular, it is, without question, major surgery, which makes him nervous, Pettis said. As with any significant surgery, there are potential risks and side effects.

There is also a palpable sense of enthusiasm.

“I’m excited for the change,” Pettis said.

His “dream” weight loss goal is 100 pounds, but his overall goal transcends numbers on a scale. What he really longs for is to “get healthier” and satiate his “desire to live longer.”

Reducing the number on the scale and getting healthier are two of Pettis’ main objectives, but there is a third with which any overweight, fat, obese, thick, chubby, chunky – pick a word – person can empathize. It’s the one that tugs at your heart strings and can be difficult to discuss.

When Pettis flies, he requires a seatbelt extender. He gets winded navigating staircases in older government buildings where elevators are not available. When he was in Rome recently with youth from Cathedral City to sing at the Vatican, he had difficulty keeping up with them.

Those are brutally painful and personal insights into a person struggling with his weight.

“There are choices for people who are thin that aren’t available for people who are heavy,” he said. Even clothing options are limited.

Most importantly, he said, “Bullying doesn’t stop when you get out of high school. There’s the whole body shaming aspect to being obese.”