New weight-loss procedure ‘can change lives’

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A few months ago, Elaine Hodder weighed 120kg and was on medication to control her diabetes and high blood pressure – she had no motivation and was worried about her health.

Now, after becoming one of the first people in Western Australia to undergo a new procedure that is helping patients shed 80-90 percent of their excess weight, she is looking forward to a brighter future.

Ms Hodder has lost 30kg since bariatric surgeon Dr Ravi Rao performed her Stomach Intestinal Pylorus Surgery (SIPS) at Perth’s Mount Hospital.

“The SIPS procedure changed my life, and I am extremely pleased I trusted Dr Rao because I am now a much happier and healthier person,” she said. “I am no longer on medication for diabetes and heart control, and in my recovery process I experienced minimal pain, could eat and drink, and was walking within a day.”

SIPS is a modification of the duodenal switch (DS) operation. It involves a standard sleeve gastrectomy to reduce the stomach pouch, then the first section of the duodenum is divided and connected to the ileum, skipping the middle part of the small intestine.

Dr Rao went to the United States to learn the procedure, training under its creator – bariatric surgeon Dr Daniel Cottam – in Utah.

“SIPS allows patients to slowly and steadily lose weight right up until 18 months post-operation and, when reaching maximum potential, patients can expect to experience 80 to 90 percent of excess weight loss,” Dr Rao said. “Patients are able to eat and drink better in the post-operative phase and often do not require any major lifestyle changes.”

While it can be a primary procedure, SIPS is also a secondary option for people who have experienced failed sleeve operations.

“It not only provides impressive results in terms of shedding excess kilograms, but also reduces the risk of long-term complications such as anastomotic ulcers and dumping syndrome because the pylorus, which is the opening of the stomach into the duodenum, is still attached,” added Dr Rao, who has performed more than 20 SIPS operations since becoming the first surgeon in the state to take on the procedure.

He is also the first in Western Australia – and one of only a few nationwide – to be designated as a Surgeon of Excellence in Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery by the prestigious Surgical Review Corporation USA.

In a country where almost two-thirds of all adults are overweight or obese, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics research, Dr Rao said he has seen a rise in the number of patients seeking weight-loss surgery – and specifically asking for SIPS.

“I approach each patient strictly on a case-by-case basis so I can make informed decisions about which surgery is the right one for them.

“It is important to be able to perform all types of bariatric procedures because it means we can provide each individual with the procedure they need, rather than the one the surgeon knows how to perform,” he said.

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