Bariatric Surgery Can Be Lifesaving
Millions of Americans are morbidly obese, typically 100 or more pounds overweight with a body mass index of 40, and that can trigger life-threatening complications like diabetes, high blood pressure, and increased risk of cancer. Bariatric surgery is a safe and proven way for these individuals to regain their health.
Drs. Yong Choi and James Dickerson are two highly experienced bariatric surgeons in Southeast Texas at St. Luke’s Health – The Woodlands. Throughout their careers, they have helped thousands of patients who have struggled to lose weight on their own with no success. As part of the hospital’s accredited Bariatric and Metabolic Program, both surgeons are fellowship-trained in minimally invasive bariatric surgery and were the first to perform robotic bariatric surgery in The Woodlands.
“We have 20 years of knowledge and practice in weight loss and decades of general surgery experience,” Dr. Choi said. “Our comprehensive program treats a wide range of patients who have tried unsuccessfully for years to lose weight — from the more common sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass to more complex revisional surgeries.”
Both surgeons agree that a patient considering bariatric surgery must be motivated to make serious lifestyle changes. Following surgery, patients are restricted to eating only 1,000 calories a day and small portions of 4 to 6 ounces. They must commit to exercising on a regular basis and to eating a healthy diet.
“We are here for our patients to provide every facet of bariatric medicine. Not just operate and send them on their way. We follow our patients indefinitely,” Dr. Dickerson explained, noting that caring for a patient involves “treating them nonoperatively or operatively if they need it — even if it takes a long time or it’s a complex preoperative evaluation or postoperative course.”
In addition to this highly qualified pair of surgeons, the bariatric team at St. Luke’s Health–The Woodlands includes specially trained staff, including nurses who are skilled in bariatric care including psychology and nutrition. Following surgery, patients recover in a ward specially designed for bariatric patients. The team follows the patient for 12 months and every year thereafter. A bariatric coordinator runs a twice-monthly support group that encourages patients to share their experiences.
“Bariatric surgery has become one of the safest operations performed in this country,” Dr. Dickerson said. “It has been proven to increase longevity, decrease your mortality, decrease your chance of having a cardiac event, diabetes, or cancer. It is a dramatic change for patients.”
Less than 2% of all patients in the U.S. who are eligible for bariatric surgery actually undergo a procedure. “Obesity is a huge problem in the United States and causes many comorbidities. It should be a serious consideration for anyone who is morbidly obese,” Dr. Choi said.
Comprehensive Cancer Care in The Woodlands
Thanks to a collaboration between St. Luke’s Health and the renowned Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center (DLDCC), patients in north Houston now have access to world-class oncology care in The Woodlands.
The two institutions are working closely to ensure that patients at St. Luke’s Health–The Woodlands benefit from the same leading-edge cancer care that is offered at the renowned medical center that is backed by clinicians and researchers from Baylor College of Medicine.
Members of the oncology team at St. Luke’s Health – The Woodlands are on the DLDCC faculty and regularly collaborate with their downtown counterparts. As a result, they offer everything a patient needs for diagnosis and individualized treatment of a wide range of cancers. For patients requiring a procedure or treatment that is only available at the downtown center, the team remains closely involved so the patient may return to The Woodlands for the remainder of their treatment.
“St. Luke’s Health–The Woodlands is equipped to handle a patient’s oncology care from surgery to treatment for many patients. When surgery must be performed at the Duncan Cancer Center, we partner with the surgeon and resume treatment back here, closer to the patient’s home,” said Hematologist/Oncologist Angela Coscio, MD, who works closely with an onsite oncology team that includes Hematologist/Oncologists Yelenda Bracchini, MD and Laura Meza-Rios, MD, and Radiation Oncologist Carlo Demandante, MD.
“Here at The Woodlands, we have access to the behind-the-scenes sharing of knowledge that happens downtown for all of our patients, regardless of their diagnosis. We can offer those services right here at The Woodlands within the community where the patient lives, all in a very personalized setting,”
Dr. Coscio said.
She says patients facing a cancer diagnosis have reason to be hopeful thanks to advances in research and ever-expanding clinical trials, all accessible at St. Luke’s Health – The Woodlands. “For example, it used to be that in the field of breast cancer there were only 10 preferred drugs for treatment. Now, we can use more than twice that number and we are able to offer patients treatment that is much more personalized.”
The Woodlands oncology team participates in the cancer center’s Molecular Tumor Board, a regular meeting of all Baylor Oncology faculty who review and opine on the most difficult cancer cases. Baylor College of Medicine houses the nation’s largest clinical genetics program, providing the opportunity to analyze the genetic makeup of patients to develop custom treatments.
This depth of expertise at Baylor College of Medicine earned the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center the prestigious Comprehensive Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute, awarded to the country’s top programs. U.S. News & World Report also recognized the center as one of the best in the United States for cancer care.