Bariatric surgery is hardly robotic
Merri Wagner, from Salisbury, Maryland, likes to dance and wants to learn to salsa. But this dream was on hold for many years because of her weight. Wagner, who has struggled with obesity for 25 years, tried dieting many times without success and slowly watched her health deteriorate with rising cholesterol levels and borderline diabetes. With encouragement from her seven children, she researched her weight loss options and chose robotic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery.
“I didn’t expect overnight results, but that’s what I got,” says Wagner. “Ten days after surgery, I don’t even feel like I had surgery. I feel great!”
Robotically assisted surgery
In August 2010, Wagner was the first patient at Johns Hopkins Bayview to have robotic bariatric surgery. Hien Nguyen, M.D., a Johns Hopkins bariatric surgeon specially trained in robotic surgery procedures, performed Wagner’s operation. “Merri was right for this type of surgery because her heart and lungs were strong,” says Dr. Nguyen. “Plus, I know she has a great family support system and is dedicated to the lifestyle changes needed after surgery.”
Robotically assisted gastric bypass surgery is a new minimally invasive approach. The surgeon controls the robot’s flexible arms from a console in the operating room while an assistant helps at the patient’s side. This advanced tool makes the surgery more accurate than open bariatric surgery, so the patient has less pain and blood loss, and faster recovery time. It also minimizes the risk of hernias and infection.
Because the robot’s binocular vision allows the surgeon to have 3D (three dimensional) vision instead of two dimensional (as with traditional laparoscopic surgery), the surgeon has better control during the procedure, making it more precise and efficient than even laparoscopic surgery.
“It’s exciting that we can provide this sophisticated procedure to patients who can benefit from it during intricate operations,” says Dr. Nguyen. “When Merri heard about all of its benefits and safety precautions, she was enthusiastic to be my first robotic gastric bypass patient.”
Wagner’s gastric bypass surgery was a success and she stayed in the hospital only two days. Within a week after surgery, she didn’t need her blood pressure medication and food is no longer a major focus in her thoughts.
“Already, I am starting to see my feet again, and learning to salsa is just around the corner. I’m so happy to be getting healthier,” notes Wagner. “I want to live and dance–not just get by.”
Research Focus: Weight Loss Surgery and Diabetes
In August 2010, the Archives of Surgery published Johns Hopkins study results showing that weight loss surgery allows most obese patients with type 2 diabetes to stop using insulin and other sugar-controlling medications within six months of surgery. The study’s co-author, Thomas Magnuson, M.D., a bariatric surgeon and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery, explains that the goal of weight loss surgery is to decrease medical problems, such as diabetes, that are caused by obesity. This research demonstrates that weight loss resulting from surgery not only helps diabetes symptoms subside, but for some patients, markers of the disease disappear even before they lose a significant amount of weight. Says Dr. Magnuson, “It’s gratifying to see bariatric surgery patients who needed medications, like insulin, come back a few months later not needing any at all.”
To discuss a case or refer a patient call +1.443.287.6499.