What sets the Penn Bariatric Surgery program apart?The education we provide our patients sets the program apart. One of our roles as providers is to educate, and I think we do a very good job in making sure our patients are prepared. The information sessions that we hold offer a very good explanation of the three procedures and the expectations of those procedures. By preparing our patients before we actually see them in the office, they have a chance to process the information. They come in with the understanding that weight loss is a lifelong commitment, that bariatric surgery is not a quick fix and that different variables come into play depending on which procedure they do.
You’ve been seeing bariatric patients for 10 years. Have you noticed a difference in how much patients know about bariatric surgery or the Penn program?I think that there is much more awareness now simply because so many people have had the surgery. Almost everybody who comes in can reference a friend, a neighbor, a coworker or even a celebrity who has been through this. A lot of people use those individuals as their support group, which is great.
Once a patient has gone through the information session, what's your first meeting like?Most people are anxious and excited and scared. A lot of people say that attending the information session is the hardest step. Then some people feel that the first appointment can be overwhelming. It lasts anywhere from two to three hours. They meet everyone on the team. They're asked a lot of questions, some of them personal. We go back to the very beginning, asking things like, "When do you first remember being overweight?" For many people, it was being picked on during their childhood.
What’s your advice for patients?Just showing up is a big deal! Literally half the battle is showing up and taking ownership of the situation. It shows us a lot: That you're committed and that you're willing to take the "downs" and can turn them around.
Also, if you gain a pound or two pounds, that does not mean don't come back. If you need to quit smoking and you haven't, that doesn't mean don't show up again. We have the resources as a program and as a health system to get you any type of help and support that you want or need. We're here for you.