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About the Procedure

Genesis to Webcast Sleeve Gastrectomy Weight-Loss Surgery

Having already had a malfunctioning gastric band removed, and apprehensive about undergoing a complicated gastric bypass procedure, Ken Croken was looking for another surgical weight loss option.

The potential side effects of the Roux-en-Y procedure troubled me," said Croken, vice president of corporate communications and marketing for Genesis Health System. "And while I felt capable of losing weight, I felt very pessimistic about my ability to maintain a healthy weight for the long term without surgical intervention of some kind."

Croken found an alternative, one now offered by his own employer, in a procedure called a sleeve gastrectomy. His surgery will be broadcast on, premiering Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. CST.

The live panel webcast will include Croken, surgeon Matthew Christophersen, M.D., FACS, Medical Director of the Genesis Center for Bariatric Surgery and a partner in the Davenport Surgical Group, and Teresa Fraker, Nurse Manager of the Genesis Center for Bariatric Surgery.

The Genesis bariatric surgery center has been designated a Center of Excellence as recognized by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), a UnitedHealthcare United Resource Networks Bariatric Center of Excellence and a Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Care. Nearly 700 patients from across the region have been treated for morbid obesity through weight loss surgery at Genesis.

The sleeve gastrectomy, a restrictive bariatric surgery, is the newest of three surgical options available to Genesis patients. Genesis is the only health care provider in the Quad Cities to offer the procedure, during which the surgeon creates a small, sleeve-shaped stomach by stapling and dividing it vertically. As a result, between 70 and 80 percent of the stomach is removed. The smaller stomach reduces the amount of food a patient can eat, thus promoting weight loss.

The procedure is technically less difficult than the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, which reroutes a length of the small intestine to connect to a newly created stomach pouch. But it's more involved than introducing an adjustable gastric band, which is placed around the outside of the stomach to divide it into a small upper pouch above the band and a larger pouch below the band.

Dr. Christophersen, who performed the first laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in the Quad Cities in November 2004, describes sleeve gastrectomy as a middle-of-the-road approach to surgical weight loss.

"With a sleeve gastrectomy, there is no reliance on a device to perform flawlessly to ensure the weight loss, as there is with a gastric band," said Dr. Christophersen. There also is no intestinal bypass with this procedure, only stomach reduction, so we avoid potential complications such as marginal ulcers, vitamin deficiencies and intestinal obstructions."

Like the Roux-en-Y and gastric band, the sleeve gastrectomy is usually done through a minimally-invasive approach, using several small incisions instead of a single, large one. That means recovery time, discomfort and surgical wound complications are significantly reduced, and patients can return to normal, daily activities much faster. Patients undergoing a gastric sleeve procedure normally require only a one night hospital stay.

Other advantages of the sleeve gastrectomy include retention of normal stomach function so most food items can be consumed, albeit in small amounts, and lowering of the hunger-stimulating hormone, Ghrelin, which is produced in the portion of the stomach that is removed.

Weight loss associated with the sleeve gastrectomy, based on available clinical date, show patients lose 60 percent of their excess body weight by the end of the first year. That is less than with the Roux-en-Y procedure, but more than patients achieve with a gastric band.

Sleeve gastrectomy is typically considered as a treatment option for bariatric surgery patients with a Body Mass Index of 60 or higher. It also is an option for people who have existing anemia, Crohn’s disease and numerous other conditions that make them too high-risk for intestinal bypass procedures.

Patients in the Genesis program attend an introductory education class, followed by consultations with the surgeon, nursing staff, pharmacist, dietician, physical therapist and recreational therapist.  Psychological evaluations and consultations are done through Psychology Associates, an affiliate of Genesis Health System. Only patients who follow the pre-surgery requirements are scheduled for surgery.

"With the addition of sleeve gastrectomy to our program, we have even more flexibility in helping our patients find the procedure that's right for them," said Dr. Christophersen. "If you only offer one option, the patient doesn't have a choice, and some times, that one option isn't the best one."

The sleeve gastrectomy option has been the right one for Croken, who's lost an average of 20 pounds a month since his surgery.

"I am within pounds of what I consider to be my ideal weight," he says. "The results have surpassed my expectations."

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