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Thursday, June 14, 2007

A whirlwind of a day

SAN DIEGO -- Thursday was such a crazy day that it took me until Friday to realize that I didn't publish this post. I'm back-dating it so it's chronological:

I sat in today on an interesting session for primary clinicians. The opening speaker was Dr. Sasha Stiles of Kaiser South San Francisco, where I had my bariatric surgery two years ago. Dr. Stiles is the program's medical director, creating Kaiser's Northern California program with Dr. Prithvi Legha (my surgeon). During my time with Kaiser, I grew to know Dr. Stiles more than Dr. Legha because she is the one who handled my pre-operative screenings and post-operative follow-up. I was very sad when my employer switched from Kaiser coverage, because she is such an amazing doctor. At least I'm still able to be in Dr. Legha's capable hands.

Dr. Stiles provided a brief introduction to the Primary Clinicians Tract that was an overview of the advancements made in the treatment of obesity. For a rail-thin woman, she knows a lot about obesity. She sees 6,000 patients a year through Kaiser's bariatric program, and the South San Francisco facility treats about 200 patients a month.

She didn't report anything that was new or earth-shattering but did pose some interesting questions for the audience to ponder. Her over-arching theme regarding the success of bariatric surgery was that it provides hope for the morbidly obese. Hope, she said, is what motivates patients to make the lifestyle changes required for long-term success.

She called the physicians collectively on the carpet for not doing a good enough job in following up with their patients to ensure long-term success. Studies show that dieting is stressful and that even the most successful weight loss programs have followers who fall off the wagon and start over. Dr. Stiles said anticipating this aspect of human nature can make bariatric programs more successfull, too. After all, if you anticipate that after two years, post-ops will stop attending after-care programs and possibly begin to gain back weight, doctors could then build services into their programs to bring those patients back to the fold in a supportive manner.

Makes sense to me. What do the rest of you think?

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