Clinical Staff

Dr. Helmuth BillySurgeon
Helmuth Billy, MD

Dr. Billy is the leading Lap-Band and laparoscopic gastric bypass surgeon in Ventura and Santa Barbara County. Dr. Billy relocated his practice to Ventura in July of 2002. Prior to that he had established himself as one of the premier laparoscopic surgeons in the Sacramento and Sierra Nevada region of Northern California. Dr. Billy was instrumental in developing the bariatric surgery centers at Sutter General Hospital and Sutter Roseville Medical Centers. He is currently director of Bariatric Surgery at St. John’s Regional Medical Center, a recognized bariatric Center of Excellence by the Surgery Review Committee, Medicare, Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Health Net. St. Johns Regional Medical Center is located in Oxnard California. Dr. Billy also serves as the Medical Director of the Community Memorial Hospital, a Surgical Review Corporation accredited Bariatric Center of Excellence, located in Ventura, California.

Dr. Billy obtained his undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He subsequently received his medical degree at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. Dr. Billy received additional training in the techniques of the Lap-Band system prior to its release by the FDA in 2001. He is actively involved as a teaching faculty member for placement of the Lap-Band® system and has educated and proctored dozens of surgeons throughout the west as part of their educational training. Dr. Billy has been a faculty member at numerous national educational events and surgeon training workshops. He has been a featured speaker at the annual meeting of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and was a contributing author on the recently released SAGES Bariatric Surgery Manual published by the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. Dr. Billy has an international reputation and has lectured and taught principles of bariatric surgery in Mexico, Taiwan and India.

Dr. Andrew BinderPulmonary & Sleep Specialist
Andrew Binder, MD,FCCP,FAASM

Dr. Binder has been practicing sleep medicine since 1989. He was the medical director and founder of The Sleep Disorders Center of Santa Barbara. After practicing Pulmonary and Critical Care medicine from 1978 through 1998, he focused his practice on sleep medicine. He has served on the volunteer clinical teaching faculty affiliated with University of Southern California School of Medicine as an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine. He left his Santa Barbara sleep center in 2007 and now serves as the Director of Medical Physiology for Ventura Advanced Surgical Associates’ Institute for Comprehensive Metabolic Evaluation and Treatment. Dr. Binder provides cardiopulmonary and sleep medicine evaluation on patients who are considering bariatric surgery for treatment of their obesity.

Dr. Binder graduated Magna Cum Laude from Williams College, Massachusetts in 1967 where he majored in English literature and went on to get his MD degree from Harvard Medical School in 1971. He did his Internal Medicine training at the University of Washington, Seattle and his Pulmonary Medicine training at UC San Francisco. After practicing in Berkeley for several years, he travelled to Santa Barbara, California in 1980, where he continued to practice until 2007. He is a diplomate of the ABIM in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases, and Sleep Medicine, and the American Board of Sleep Medicine, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American College of Chest Physicians. He has published scientific articles relating to the pathophysiology of pulmonary edema, and has authored several patents related to technology for evaluating exercise physiology.

Clinical Nurses

Sara Reyes, R.N., B.S.N., C.B.N., Bariatric Nurse EducatorSara Reyes, RN, BSN,CBN
Bariatric Nurse Educator

Sara has been an integral part of our organization since relocating our practice to Ventura in 2002. She was in the first group of bariatric nurses to be recognized as a certified bariatric nurse after having successfully passed a national exam. Since 2002, Sara has developed expertise as a bariatric educator and provides patients the educational experience necessary to enhance the successful outcome of our bariatric procedures. Sara works closely with patients and family to provide the educational experience and tools necessary to allow improved success and better weight loss outcomes. Sara is located at our Ventura office. To contact Sara directly, please email

 Melissa Stephenson, RN, CBN
Clinical Nurse

Melissa joined the practice in November 2009 and has since passed her exam to be a certified bariatric nurse. Since she joined our practice, she has dedicated herself to our patients and providing exceptional bariatric care as our only clinical nurse.  Melissa adds expertise to our dynamic clinical team.

To contact Melissa directly, please email

Michele Beiderman, R.D.Dietitian
Michele Biederman, R.D.

Michele has worked with Dr. Billy for 7 years to provide an integrative approach to diet and nutrition with an emphasis on science, eating style and overall health and wellness. She is trained and certified in adult weight management by the American Dietetic Association and the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Michele has worked in the field of Nutritional Science and Dietetics for over 17 years. Her experience includes acute and critical care, eating disorders, developmental nutrition and medical nutrition therapy. Michele has also completed training in the area of polycystic ovarian syndrom and nutrition as it relates to hormonal imbalance such as occurs with obesity. In addition, Michele provides one-on-one lifestyle coaching for healthier choices and presents nutrition topics to a variety of groups in the community. To contact Michele directly, please email

Dr. Heather Gibson, Ph.D.Psychologist

Heather Gibson, Ph.D.

Dr. Gibson is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in eating disorders, obesity, and related issues. She works within a cognitive-behavioral model to assist patients with maximum success both pre- and post-operatively. Dr. Gibson performs psychological evaluations and consultations with patients before their procedures to assist them in developing concrete behavioral plans for weight loss success. These plans are specific to the patients’ background, circumstances, coping skills, and the types of lifestyle changes they will be making. Dr. Gibson sees patients in our Ventura office and in her Thousand Oaks office, depending on what is most convenient for the patient. In addition to pre-operative consultations, Dr. Gibson is available to work with patients after surgery if they would like additional emotional or behavioral support. She also joins our bariatric support groups on a quarterly basis as an additional resource for ideas and discussion surrounding some of the behavioral, emotional, and psychological challenges involved in weight loss and weight maintenance.

Dr. Gibson received her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Texas Tech University. She completed her clinical hours and training at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute and has spent much of her career in the specialization of eating and related disorders. Additionally, Dr. Gibson has completed and published empirical studies in the treatment of eating disorders. To contact Heather directly, please email

Maggy Ojeda

Maggy has been with the practice in a variety of functions for 10 years. She is responsible for performing EKG's, stress tests and is approved to perform bone density testing in our Ventura office. Maggy is a great asset to our team.

Jeff Manson

Jeff Manson 

As our medical technician, Jeff performs overnight sleep studies at Ventura Advanced Surgical Associates’ sleep lab. Trained to Dr. Binder’s precise expectations, Jeff provides a comfortable sleep study experience. 



Liahna Davis King

Liahna is our Medical Assistant and provides exceptional support to our clinical staff. She has established great relationships with our patients because of her friendly and professional attitude. Liahna continues to be an essential part of our clinical staff.