SANTA MONICA – Danny Shouhed, M.D., became the first surgeon in the nation to complete a nearly “scarless” robotic sleeve gastrectomy – one of the most popular and most requested weight loss surgeries in the United States – at Providence Saint John’s Health Center last week.
During the robotic-assisted surgery, Dr. Shouhed made five millimeter-sized incisions below the patient’s waistline to complete the sleeve gastrectomy, a procedure that induces weight loss by removing part of the stomach as well as ghrelin or the “hunger hormone.” Unlike a traditional robotic sleeve gastrectomy, where small incisions are made near a patient’s belly button, and other "scarless" procedures that currently exist in the industry, this minimally invasive technique places incisions below the waistline and allows the small scars to remain hidden from view when patients wear jeans or a bathing suit.
“It’s kind of like a C-section scar since they are so low. It gives patients an opportunity to keep their surgery confidential,” said Dr. Shouhed, founding medical director of the Bariatric Surgery and Metabolic Weight Loss Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. “A lot of patients don’t want people to know they had bariatric surgery to lose weight, so this technique makes it possible for them to hide their procedure.”
With more common techniques, micro-incisions near the abdomen can still be visible to the naked eye, and Single Incision Laparoscopic Surgery (SILS) – a procedure that creates a single, larger incision in the belly button – may lead to higher hernia and complication rates for patients.
“With the robot, it’s seamless,” Dr. Shouhed said. “The technology allows for fewer and smaller incisions, which leads to more precise procedures and faster recovery times.”
The procedure, however, is not for every patient. Due to the limitations of the robotic instruments, the “scarless” procedure can only be performed on patients who are of average height and who are not extremely obese. This is because the tools may not safely reach the surgery site.
However, for patients who qualify, the robotic surgery gives them an opportunity to have bariatric surgery with minimal scarring that is hidden from view.
“Today there are more options than ever for weight loss. The ‘scarless’ robotic sleeve gastrectomy is minimally invasive and can help patients with gastrointestinal disorders and obesity-related conditions,” Dr. Shouhed said. “I’m excited to use this technique in qualifying procedures to minimize scarring and allow patients to keep their surgery anonymous.”
To learn more about Saint John’s Bariatric and Metabolic Weight Loss Center, visit providence.org/saintjohnsbariatrics, or call 310-582-7329 to schedule a consultation.