Robotic surgery helps patients shed major pounds, recover quickly

Published: Jul. 13, 2018 at 4:48 PM EDT
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Losing weight is such a huge challenge that many people turn to gastric bypass surgery.

And now, a minimally invasive robotic procedure speeds the recovery process for patients.

Robotic sleeve gastrectomy is the latest in bypass weight loss surgery. The surgery is performed using cutting-edge robotic technology to minimize trauma to the patient, meaning a faster recovery and less pain.

For one woman who has already lost nearly 80 pounds, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Teresina Francis is a busy, hard-working mom, but at 295 pounds, she found that it was all she could do to get through the days.

“I was always tired," she said. "I was always looking for a reason to not do something. The tipping point for me was that I finally saw myself as a morbidly obese person in the mirror.”

Frustrated, she turned to laparoscopic gastric surgery, using groundbreaking robotic technology.

“The robotic technology allows me to sit at a console, it allows me to operate the hands of the robot, which ideally doesn’t cause as much trauma to the patient,” bariatric surgeon Dr. David Thomas said.

The robotic system provides the doctor with vision that is three-dimensional and magnified by 10. During the procedure, the doctor uses the robot to divide the stomach and remove a large portion of it, leaving a long, tube-shaped pouch in place. It can hold up to 10 ounces.

“I didn’t have a lot of pain," Teresina said. "I didn’t have a lot of nausea. It went really well.”

“It’s an amazing thing to see in person," Thomas said. "It really does help the patient recover a lot faster.”

“The surgery for me was a huge game-changer," Teresina said. "This isn’t the easy way out. I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to this point. We are outdoors more and we are constantly going and I can keep up instead of falling behind.”

Teresina says she has lost 79 pounds so far, and still has a few to go. This surgery makes the patient feel full faster, they don’t absorb food quite as well and the part of the stomach that is removed eliminates the hormone ghrelin, which causes people to feel hungry.




REPORT: MB #4442

BACKGROUND: Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries are major, life-changing procedures. While weight-loss surgery can help reduce the risk of weight-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and sleep apnea, it can also pose major risks and complications. In general, gastric bypass or another weight-loss surgery could be an option if: efforts to lose weight with diet and exercise have been unsuccessful, the body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher, or the BMI is 35 or more and there is a serious weight-related health problem, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or severe sleep apnea.


SLEEVE GASTRECTOMY: During a sleeve gastrectomy (also called gastric sleeve, vertical gastrectomy, restrictive vertical gastroplasty, or vertical sleeve gastrectomy) the stomach is divided vertically with a line of staples and a large portion of it is removed. This is usually done using minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery. The remaining stomach is a long tube shaped like a very slender banana. It can hold between 1 and 5 ounces. The surgery helps you lose weight by restricting the amount of food that can be eaten at one time. The part of the stomach that is removed secretes a hormone called ghrelin which is partly responsible for appetite and hunger. Due to the decreased amount of ghrelin, sleeve gastrectomy patients experience a loss or reduction in appetite. This loss of appetite induced by sleeve gastrectomy surgery helps them achieve weight loss.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: David Thomas, MD, Bariatric Surgeon, who practices at Baptist Health System said, “Sleeve gastrectomy does not change the way the body absorbs food. Only the quantity a person can eat, and also their appetite by decreasing ghrelin (because we remove the part of the stomach that makes that hormone during sleeve gastrectomy.) Alternatively, a gastric bypass does alter the amount people can eat and makes it so they do not absorb food as well. But, the ghrelin part of the stomach stays within the body and is not removed. So, sleeve causes people to lose weight differently than a gastric bypass.” The vision is much better than typical laparoscopic surgery.

(Source: David Thomas, MD)