Small Incisions, Big Outcomes for Gastric Patients

In the last decade or so, gastric bypass surgery has grown increasingly common in this country.  In that time, the way doctors perform the procedure has also changed dramatically.

At one Connecticut hospital, surgeons are now making stomachs smaller through a couple of tiny incisions that equal about an inch in size.

It’s a procedure that changed Nicole Winston's life.  She is slim and trim now, but a year and a half ago she was 110 pounds heavier.

"I was very frustrated.  You would lose some weight and then you would gain some weight and then you would fall of the wagon and you would eat the things you shouldn't be eating so of course it was very frustrating," said Winston.

She had given up on dieting and decided gastric bypass surgery was the way to go.

"I know people who had gastric bypass before me and their success rate and I said let's try this,” she said.

Lucky for Nicole, her Danbury Hospital surgeon was performing a new cutting edge technique.

It's gastric bypass done using micro laparoscopy -- which basically means smaller tools and smaller incisions.

"An incision in the abdomen with open surgery as we call it could be the length of the abdominal incision from just below the breast bone to all the way down to the pelvic region.  Which could be a foot long in some cases," said Dr. Keith Zuccala.

Using micro laparoscopy,  Dr. Keith Zuccala says if you added up all the incisions they would equal less than an inch in size.

Video technology makes this type of surgery possible.

"Now we have high definition technology in the operating room.  Now we can use these really tiny cameras and really see very well that means we can make do with the smaller instruments," said Dr. Zuccala.

The doctor says performing the surgery in this way has dramatically cut down infections and hernias.

"Now our incisions are so small they almost can't get hernias.  They're too small to get them.  So the incidence of hernia goes from 15-20% to 1% or less."

He says wounds now almost never get infected and if they do it's usually cleared up with oral antibiotics.

In the past, such infections could require further surgery.

"It's better for the patient, less pain.  They use a lot less pain medication post operatively."

Nicole's results are staggering.

"When people do see me, they're shocked," she said.

"I haven't seen my husband's cousin in over a year and he walked by me and didn’t even recognize me."

The surgery has simply changed her life.

"I guess the best way to say it is I'm going to live longer and I'm healthier.  I'm going to be able to see my son graduate and grow old with my husband and have grandchildren."

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