Robotic Bariatric Surgery Aids in Liver Disease Treatment

Phlebotomist Rick Colmenero leads a busy life. In addition to drawing blood for medical tests at HaysMed, he serves part-time as a patient care technician in progressive care. His goal is to someday be a nurse. He understands first-hand how much healthcare professionals mean to their patients.

In 2018, Colmenero developed pancreatitis and underwent testing at The University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City. There, he was diagnosed with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease along with nonalcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. His treatment options were either a transplant or gastric sleeve surgery on his stomach.

He then made an appointment with Zurab Tsereteli, MD, a surgeon at HaysMed who specializes in metabolic and bariatric surgery. Because HaysMed is part of the health system, Dr. Tsereteli could easily view Colmenero’s records in the electronic medical record. He could begin his consultation with Colmenero immediately.

Dr. Tsereteli recommended performing gastric sleeve surgery to decrease the amount of fat absorbed into Colmenero’s system.  Although his body mass index was not as high as others who have this type of surgery, Colmenero suffered from other health conditions, including diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The combined factors ultimately led to the selection of gastric sleeve surgery as the best treatment option.

“Dr. Tsereteli was great from the beginning,” said Colmenero. “He was very forthcoming, explaining the before-and-after process of the surgery. All of my questions were answered in great detail.”

In December, Dr. Tsereteli performed the gastric sleeve surgery using a surgical robot. Colmenero’s surgery took place in the morning, and he was up and walking the same day. After a night’s stay in the hospital, he was released before noon the next day. He returned to work after 2 weeks’ recovery.

“I could have gone back to work after a week, but I chose to take 2,” he said. “I wanted to be able to return to work at full capacity.”

Colmenero was 100% pleased with his entire experience. “Dr. Tsereteli is meticulous about the details before, during and after surgery,” he said. “He wants the best outcome for his patients, so he makes sure everything is covered. I had consults with social workers, dietitians as well as with Dr. Tsereteli.  All my questions were answered, and I felt very confident about having the surgery.”

Since then, Colmenero has lost 40 pounds. He is no longer taking diabetes and cholesterol medications and is taking one-fourth of the blood pressure medications he was taking before the procedure. “I have been improving by leaps and bounds and feel so much better,” he said.

He has met with Dr. Tsereteli several times since the surgery and will continue to follow up on a yearly basis.

Although he is still very busy, life has changed for Colmenero. He watches what he eats, consumes smaller portions and is now exercising like he did in high school. Not being sick has given him more time for other things.

Colmenero says he would definitely recommend robotic bariatric surgery at HaysMed. He was impressed with the service and the staff’s attention to detail, making sure he was prepared to experience the best outcome possible.

“I’m not the same person I was 4 years ago,” Colmenero said. “I didn’t see my family until 2 months after the surgery. My mom cried because she was so happy for me. I feel awesome, and I know I’ve been able to extend my life, thanks to this surgery.”

Short recovery after robotic surgery helps woman return to busy life

Gayla Petersen-Whitney is a very busy woman. She and her husband farm and ranch just outside Kensington. Together, they’re raising a son and daughter who are both less than 3 years old. In addition, Gayla commutes nearly 80 miles round trip to work at her full-time position at a veterinary clinic in Stockton. She doesn’t have time to let medical issues slow her down.

Both of Gayla’s children were born prematurely, and she dealt with gestational diabetes. After her second child was born, she experienced additional medical problems that needed attention. She consulted with her obstetrician, Joel Fort, MD at the Women’s Center at HaysMed. Dr. Fort went over treatment options with her, and they both decided that a robotic hysterectomy was the best choice.

“Because of her age and busy activity level, she was a prime candidate for a robotic hysterectomy,” Dr. Fort says.

Never one to waste time, Gayla scheduled her hysterectomy at HaysMed. She arrived at the hospital at 6:30 a.m., had her surgery and was dismissed by 3 p.m. The surgery itself required just 3 minor incisions.

“It was great,” says Gayla. “I was in, out and back home before I knew it. The next day, I was back to my normal housework with a few lifting restrictions and, of course, back to taking care of my kids”

After 2 weeks of recovery, she returned to her job. And after 6 weeks, she was released to resume all normal activities.

The option of  robotic surgery offers people many advantages, including smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays and recovery time, less risk of infection and quicker return to normal activities.

“A traditional hysterectomy requires an average of 3 days in the hospital,” says Dr. Fort. “Robotic hysterectomies, on average, require a 7-hour stay in the hospital. The pain level is also lower.”

Pain typically rates around a 5.2 on a 10-point pain scale for those who have had traditional surgery, while robotic surgery patients typically rate their pain at 2.9.

HaysMed began offering robotic surgery in April 2014. Surgical teams at the hospital have performed more than 2,000 surgeries and offer 22 types of procedures. The staff includes 11 surgeons who are trained to perform robotic surgery for the treatment of gynecologic/obstetrics, urology, gallbladder, hernia, weight-loss, and lung and chest conditions.

Today, Gayla is very pleased with all the care she has received at HaysMed. When people ask her why she drives more than 150 miles roundtrip for her and her family’s healthcare, she tells them:  “The nurses, doctors and care are amazing.  I highly recommend HaysMed.”