Health Beat

Health Beat: Robotic surgery helps shed major pounds

SAN ANTONIO - Teresina Francis is a busy, hard-working mom, but at 295 pounds, she found that it was all she could do, to get through the days.

"I was always tired. I was always looking for a reason to not do something. The tipping point for me was that I finally saw myself as a morbidly obese person in the mirror," Francis shared.

Frustrated, she turned to laparoscopic gastric surgery, using groundbreaking robotic technology.

"The robotic technology allows me to sit at a console," said Dr. David Thomas, a bariatric surgeon at Baptist Health System. "It allows me to operate the hands of the robot, which ideally doesn't cause as much trauma to the patient."

The robotic system provides the doctor with vision that is three-dimensional and magnified by 10. During the procedure, the doctor uses the robot to divide the stomach and remove a large portion of it, leaving a long tube-shaped pouch in place. It can hold up to 10 ounces.

"I didn't have a lot of pain. I didn't have a lot of nausea. It went really well," Francis said.

"It's an amazing thing to see in person. It really does help the patient recover a lot faster," Thomas stated.

"The surgery for me was a huge game-changer," Francis said. "This isn't the easy way out. I've put in a lot of hard work to get to this point. We are outdoors more and we are constantly going and I can keep up instead of falling behind."

Francis said she has lost 79 pounds, so far, and still has a few to go. The surgery makes patients feel full faster. They don't absorb food quite as well, and the part of the stomach that is removed eliminates the hormone ghrelin, which causes people to feel hungry.

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Allentown, PA 18102


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