Dec. 16, 2016 – October 18, 2016 was a historic day for Southeast
Georgia Health System and a life-changing day for a 41-year-old mother
of two. A local resident, she received the first laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy
performed at the Brunswick Campus. John William Tsai, M.D., board-certified
surgeon, Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-Glynn General & Vascular
Surgery, a strategic affiliate of the Health System, conducted the procedure.
To perform the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, Tsai removed part of the
patient’s stomach and formed the remaining section into a tube-like
structure. The patient’s stomach now holds less food and produces
less appetite-regulating hormones. By reducing stomach capacity and appetite,
the procedure assists with weight loss and improves health. “Sleeve
gastrectomy substantially improves or cures comorbid conditions associated
with obesity, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol
and obstructive sleep apnea,” says Tsai.
“Offering good results, a low complication rate and a relatively
short recovery, the sleeve gastrectomy has become the number one weight-loss
surgery performed in America,” Tsai adds.
To qualify for surgery, patients must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35
with comorbidities, or a BMI of 40 without comorbidities. BMI is a measure
of body fat based on an individual’s weight in relation to their
height. A BMI range of 18.5-24.9 is considered a normal or healthy range.
A BMI of 30 or above is considered in the obese category.
Using minimal incisions, the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy takes one
to two hours, depending on the patient. Typically, patients return to
work in two weeks and are “back to normal” in six weeks. Another
advantage is that unlike gastric bypass surgery, the sleeve gastrectomy
doesn’t reroute the bowel, thus avoiding dumping syndrome and nutritional
deficiencies. Dumping syndrome occurs when food moves from the stomach
into the small bowel too rapidly.
The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy surgery performed in October represents
a Health System milestone, but helping to decrease obesity rates, along
with patient convenience, are the primary reasons for offering the procedure
locally. “Previously, patients traveled to Savannah, Jacksonville
or Atlanta for bariatric surgery. That’s a physical hardship on
them and their families. Our goal was to offer the same or better care
locally,” Tsai explains.
Prior to joining the Health System in 2016, Tsai was chief of the Department
of General Surgery and Bariatric Surgery at Fort Stewart, Ga., where he
founded a bariatric program.
Tsai is central to Southeast Georgia Health System’s comprehensive
bariatric surgery program, as is Bariatric Coordinator Lindsay Erickson,
R.N. The program encompasses patient education classes, dietary and behavioral
health counseling and support groups.
Tsai and Erickson offer the bariatric surgery class twice a month. The
class includes a presentation, a question and answer session and a one-on-one
consultation. The class is open to anyone wanting to learn about bariatric
surgery and whether they might be a candidate. A referral from a primary
care physician or specialist is required to attend. The class is billed
like a doctor’s visit, with the patient responsible for the copay.
For more information about the bariatric surgery class, call Southeast
Georgia Physician Associates-Glynn General & Vascular Surgery at 912-265-5125.