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Bariatric surgeons help patients achieve sustainable weight loss

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In partnership with Fox45

March 10, 2022
Bariatric surgeons at GBMC have a common purpose when describing why they chose to work in bariatrics: helping people achieve sustainable weight loss in the most effective way possible. Shauna Costinett, MD, says, “Obesity permeates every aspect of a patient’s life. When people don’t feel good in their bodies, they don’t feel good in their lives.”

Emily Watters, MD, agrees, “Obesity affects how you’re able to move around, play with your kids, or walk from your car to the grocery store, and it’s associated with more than 40 different types of illnesses.”

This desire to help improve patients’ quality of life led Drs. Costinett and Watters to the Comprehensive Obesity Management Program (COMP) at GBMC HealthCare, where they regularly perform sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass surgeries, two of the most common weight loss surgeries implemented nationwide.

In a sleeve gastrectomy, part of the stomach is separated and removed from the body. The remaining section of the stomach is formed into a tubelike structure, which cannot hold as much food. Gastric bypass surgery shrinks the size of your stomach, so you can't eat as much as you could before the surgery. The surgeon will also re-route, or bypass, part of your digestive system so you don't absorb as much food.

Dr. Costinett says these are some of the most rewarding surgeries she does. For Dr. Watters, the choice to pursue a career in bariatric surgery came from a love of solving a problem as well as the continued communication with each patient after the procedure.

“Surgery is a very satisfying profession. A problem comes in, surgery is performed, a problem is gone,” Dr. Watters says. “With bariatric surgery, there’s also a long-term relationship with the patient because it’s so life-changing.”

Both doctors emphasize surgery is not the solution to long-term weight loss; rather it’s a tool in the toolkit for sustainability. COMP is key to helping patients keep the weight off for good.

“We have a Facebook group full of amazing, supportive patients and staff who are there to offer advice. We have a great nutritionist who meets with patients once a month, and we partner with a personal trainer who’s been through surgery herself,” Dr. Watters says.

“The Facebook support group is like a family that patients can turn to when things are getting hard or stressful,” Dr. Costinett adds. “Our clinical team is really active in the group, making sure patients are able to get in touch with us and get continued support after the surgery.”

They encourage anyone who’s considering weight loss surgery to reach out to the COMP team at GBMC.

Dr. Watters explains, “We [the surgeons] hold regular seminars to go over all the general information regarding weight loss surgery before meeting with patients one on one.”

Dr. Costinett says scheduling a consultation with a surgeon should be viewed as an open conversation focused on gathering information.

“People can be nervous to reach out, but you’re not signing a contract. We’re having a conversation. We’re here to explain why surgery is the most effective treatment we can offer patients in the disease of obesity, and let the patients decide if it's right for them,” Dr. Costinett says.

Both women agree that coming to work at GBMC was an easy decision because of the collaboration between team members and dedication to patient care.

“We have a great reputation as being a place that people want to stay and receive treatment,” Dr. Costinett says. “It’s a very special place where people love their jobs and love taking care of patients.”
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