In the early 2000’s, very few surgeons were doing bariatric surgery laparoscopically (minimally invasive, thru small incisions). I was one of the few at the time. Now, everyone does it that way. This has dramatically improved the recovery time for patients.
Twenty years ago, bariatric surgery patients were in the ICU for 2 days, in the hospital for a week and out of work for 8-12 weeks. Today, most patients go home the next day and are back to work in 10-14 days (not weeks!!). Eighteen years ago, the gastric bypass was the surgery we did 80-90 percent of the time. Today the gastric sleeve is what we do 60 or 70 percent of the time. I will admit that when we first started doing the sleeve, I was skeptical that it would be as effective as the bypass, but it is! Then, about 7 years ago we added another tool to the ‘bariatric toolkit’ the duodenal switch, the most effective of all the bariatric surgeries!
When I started doing bariatric surgery 18 years ago, there was much talk about how ‘dangerous’ it was. In fact, there was so much concern about it that the State of New Jersey (in 2005) commissioned a special ‘Health Care Quality Assessment’ investigation. The final report was issued in 2007 and found that bariatric surgery in the State of NJ is very safe and guess what… it has become safer since then! In fact, today it is as safe or safer than many commonly performed surgeries such as gallbladder surgery or hysterectomy.
So, here is the 3 second summary… in the 18 years since I’ve been doing bariatric surgery it has become easier, safer, less invasive and more effective! If there is anyone in your life who is ‘on the fence’ about whether or not bariatric surgery is right for them, you might want to let them know. Sometimes things really do get better!
By Dr. Michael Bilof
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