What I’ve Learned from 1,000 Weight Loss Surgeries

by Leon V. Katz, M.D., director, Crozer-Keystone Bariatric Surgery Program

iStock_000007005644SmallThis year marks a monumental accomplishment for the Crozer-Keystone Bariatric Surgery Program as we just recently performed our 1,000th bariatric case. The obvious question is: what have we learned in the last 1,000 cases? In addition to continuously learning the most advanced techniques and technologies for weight loss surgery, we have learned that there are some common misconceptions regarding people suffering from obesity related diseases.

The predominant misconception is that people who have weight loss surgery simply couldn’t control themselves and lose the weight on their own. This is absolutely a false statement. I have had many patients who have been able to lose between 50 and 100 pounds on their own. In fact, they’ve lost that weight multiple times and yet the weight comes back on a consistent basis. People use this surgery as a last ditch effort to help them get healthier. Following surgery, most people have had excellent weight loss with improved medical conditions and have successfully maintained a significant amount of weight loss for many years.

There is an interesting belief that obese people have stretched their stomachs and so one would expect that during surgery I would encounter a very large stomach – especially in a patient that is super morbidly obese. This is simply not an accurate observation. I have operated on people who are minimally obese and turned out to have a very large stomach and those that were extremely heavy who turned out to have a very small stomach. It is true that the stomach is an organ that contains a muscular layer, but overeating doesn’t necessarily lead to the stomach stretching out. The stomach is like a giant rubber band; it can accommodate a big portion of food but eventually returns to its original size.

As the program has evolved, we’ve gained increased knowledge in the field of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Eight years ago when starting the program at Crozer-Keystone, the two main treatment options offered were the gastric bypass and the lap band. In the last few years, we have added the sleeve gastrectomy as an additional option for the patients.

The sleeve is a relatively new procedure but the results have been excellent. The sleeve has essentially replaced the lap band throughout the country, not simply in our practice. Long-term I believe that the gastric bypass will remain the gold standard, but its use will be predominant in folks suffering from metabolic disease, like diabetes or elevated lipids.

davinci_surgical_systemIn addition to expanding operative treatment options to address obesity, we have also added the latest technology to help make the surgery more precise. Last July I introduced the da Vinci® Surgical System to help me perform bariatric procedures. This new technology allows me to have much better visualization, including seeing the organs in three dimensions. The robot also allows for the manipulation of the tissue in a gentler manner, thus resulting in a decreased level of pain experienced by the patients in the immediate postoperative timeframe.

One of the most important things I’ve learned over the past eight years and 1,000 surgeries is that we must never stop learning. Whether reaching our 1,000th or 10,000th surgery, we continuously strive to apply the most successful techniques and advanced technologies to help people achieve their health and weight loss goals.

If you believe weight loss surgery is right for you, please call (610) 619-8450 today to schedule a consultation.

1 Response

  1. Janice

    I’m disappointed that nothing was mentioned about support groups like Overeaters Anonymous http://www.OA.org that can support people after surgery to keep the weight off and maintain the healthy life style.

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