Shedding light on yet another weight-loss procedure

Bariatric Director Jessica Miller, certified bariatric nurse Barbara Allen, Dr Jason Radecke and Dr Patrick Domskowski [Photo: Denise Ritchie]

The world has been looking for safe, effective weight-loss surgeries for a long, long time.

At the very least that quest dates back to Spain in the 10th century when King Sancho of Leon – also known as Sancho the Fat – lost his throne when he gained so much weight he could no longer walk. His nobles revolted and replaced him with his cousin.

In desperation, Sancho sought out a draconian solution.

He had his lips sewn shut, forcing him onto an all-liquid diet. And while Sancho did eventually regain his throne after losing half his body weight, today there are infinitely safer, faster, far more effective and less gruesome procedures available.

Just ask Dr. Patrick Domkowski at Sebastian’s Riverside Surgical & Weight Loss Center.

Domkowski just marked his 10-year anniversary of performing modern bariatric surgeries at the Steward Health Group’s Sebastian River Medical Center, and earlier this year the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) gave him a present.

Sort of.

The ASMBS approved a new procedure known as the “Single Anastomosis Duodenal Ileostomy” (SADI), which adds one more clinically proven tool to Domkowski’s tool belt – a belt that also includes sleeve gastrectomies, duodenal switch procedures, lap bands or gastric banding, gastric balloons and gastric bypasses.

But Domkowski gives more credit for Riverside’s success to the people around him than to any individual procedure – successes that include being designated a “Bariatric Center of Excellence” and garnering a five-star patient rating on healthgrades.com for a fifth consecutive year.

Those people include his partner, Dr. Jason Radecke, a fellowship-trained bariatric and minimally invasive surgeon; Barbara Allen, a certified bariatric nurse practitioner; and, Domkowski continues, “a great team in the office. These are people who have been with us a long time, and I think that speaks to the culture we have been able to grow. They want to stay with us.

“We’re very blessed to have this great team.”

Radecke echoes his partner’s sentiments and then points back to that healthgrades’ five-star rating: “We are one of six places in the entire state that has obtained a healthgrades’ five-star rating five years in a row.

“Those grades are given by patients,” Radecke continues, “and that, to me, speaks unbelievable volumes because nobody’s out there trying to coax them. This is an anonymous thing where people go [online] and vote for you. Five stars is really hard to get [let alone for] five years in a row.”

When pressed on whether the “laser” weight-loss procedures that seem to dominate local TV screens these days are a viable alternative to bariatric surgery, Domkowski tactfully says, “we wouldn’t consider those medical weight-loss procedures. Two words that we really love to use in bariatric surgery – because that’s what works – are durable and sustainable.

“A lot of people think if they go get this laser thing done at a plastic surgeon’s office, they’re going to lose their weight. But when you’re talking about people who are 80 to 100 pounds overweight – and have a lot of other diseases including diabetes as a result of their obesity – those lasers are not going to help.”

That said, Radecke adds, “we do not discourage these plastic surgeries after bariatric surgery because [those patients who have been obese for a long time] have certainly earned the ability to do that.”

At the same time, he reiterates, “there is no laser procedure done in this world” that can have the impact on obesity that bariatric surgery does.

He points to two patients he operated on the day before who were taking three injections of insulin every day for their diabetic neuropathy. “Today they can say their diabetes is in remission. They require no shots. They will go home on no medicine for their diabetes in 24 hours – 24 hours.”

And while neither Domkowski nor Radecke will promise remission from diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol problems or sleep apnea – let alone decreasing the risk of cardiac disease or certain cancers – the current data seem to suggest they could make that promise if they wanted to.

With new procedures and new techniques coming into play all the time, people with serious weight problems clearly have much better options than King Sancho of Leon did. They just need to consult a bariatric physician.

Dr. Patrick Domkowski is at Riverside Surgical & Weight Loss Center and is the surgical chief at the Steward Medical Group’s Sebastian River Medical Center. His office is at 14430 U.S. 1 in Sebastian. The phone is 772-581-8003.

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