JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Obesity is a growing problem across the country. Mississippi is always on top or close to the top of the list of the latest surgical options. But now there's another surgical option available on the coast to help people lose weight.
Bariatric surgery is often a last resort option for patients who haven't had any luck on their own losing significant weight. Singing River Health System has added a robot to its bariatric surgery options that doctors said makes it easier for patients.
Most people know that bariatric surgery can lead to dramatic results. Coast resident Pam Ferrill had it five years ago, and lost 150 pounds and she has kept it off.
It's success stories like hers and many other patients that has bariatric surgeon, Dr Jason Payne excited about the introduction of the Da Vinci robotic system to his surgical options.
He said the high obesity rate and risks associated with it make surgery a viable option for a growing number of people.
"Obesity is directly linked to all kinds of co-morbidities including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke. Helping get that weight down cuts down on those risk factors," said Payne.
He said using the robot often means fewer incisions and a faster recovery, than using traditional laparoscopic or open surgery.
That's because the robot enhances the surgeon's capabilities.
"So it's greater precision, greater accuracy. We're able to reach into the abdomen and visualize the abdomen better. So better visualization," Payne said.
Dr. Payne said he performed the first completely robotic gastric sleeve bariatric procedure on the coast in July and has performed several more using the robot since then.
He reminds patients that it's not a complete fix. It definitely requires lifestyle changes after surgery.
"The surgery helps you get to that goal, but it does require you change your eating habits, selection of foods, and also leading a more healthy lifestyle and staying active and exercising," he said.
He said the weight loss and healthier lifestyle after surgery often leads to many of his patients not needing medications any longer to control diabetes and high blood pressure.
Dr. Payne said any patient with a body mass index greater than 40 or greater than 35 with other co-morbid conditions may be a candidate for bariatric surgery.