By TJ Johnson

Many people have New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, for many it becomes their resolution year after year. If you’re looking for a new healthier you in the New Year, you have a cutting edge solution offered by one of the best surgeons in the nation here in the Coachella Valley. Renowned weight loss surgeon Dr. Bobby Bhasker-Rao is the first and only surgeon in Southern California to offer comprehensive weight loss surgery with the assistance of a robot.

Upon completing medical school and several years of surgical training, Dr. Bobby Bhasker-Rao found his passion in helping others lose weight to lead a healthier lifestyle. In turn, Dr. Bhasker-Rao, better known as “Dr. Bobby,” geared his interests toward a specialty in bariatric surgery. “I saw amazing changes. Morbidly obese patients come in afflicted with diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, some with a history of heart attacks, strokes, severe back issues, knee issues, and ankle issues. We operate on them, and almost immediately after surgery we see significant improvements in individual health issues. For example, in most cases the diabetes completely disappears and it happens overnight. The patient hasn’t even lost weight yet and the diabetes is completely gone. The same goes for high blood pressure. The very next day after surgery most patients are either able to cut back or completely discontinue taking their blood pressure medications. All of their cardiovascular risk factors significantly improve with the weight loss. I saw that as a huge benefit of these procedures, and I realized it’s not just the weight loss, the weight loss is great, but it also changes their lives. Furthermore, by getting rid of the diabetes, the hypertension, and other health conditions you’re not just changing lives, you’re actually saving lives. That’s what inspired me to get into bariatric surgery. It is where I knew I could be of most help to the people around me. With obesity growing at a rapid rate, today we find that 1 out of every 3 individuals is obese. Morbid obesity in this country is a huge problem, and I want to be a part of the solution for this population.”

Embracing technological advancements in bariatric surgery for the past 10 years, Dr. Bobby has been successful in utilizing the minimally invasive laparoscopic approach. In addition, his surgical advancement with robotics and technology led him to be recognized as the first Surgeon in Southern California to offer a more precise way of performing these operations. “Being the most experienced Robotic Bariatric Surgeon in Southern California, I am frequently used as a proctor and trainer for other surgeons who want to offer robotic surgery, that’s rapidly being recognized as a technique to provide safer outcomes especially for patients requiring such complex procedures.”

Dr. Bobby explained that the use of the robot is not necessarily new to surgery; for years it has been used in prostate and gynecological procedures. Robotics is superior according to Dr. Bobby, “The advantage of robotics is the ability to perform finer, more precise, accurate and safer surgery. When using robotics you get 3-D visualization of what is inside the abdomen. Based on this image, along with the added wrist action and flexibility of instrumentation that fit through these tiny keyholes, I am able to dissect, cut and sew more accurately. So being able to visualize, manipulate, dissect tissues more accurately, and drive the needle more precisely, translates into a superior operation resulting in safer surgery with less risk for complications.”

Dr. Bobby performs the Gastric Bypass, which is considered the gold standard for bariatric surgery because it has been practiced for over 45 years with benefits and risks studied in both short and long term settings. In addition, it is known to have the best outcomes for those with diabetes and other co-morbidities. He also performs the Sleeve Gastrectomy, the Lap-Band, and various other revisional procedures utilizing the da Vinci robot. When Dr. Bobby perfected his laparoscopic technique he took interest in the surgical advancements of the robot. Seeking additional training with world renowned surgeons, Dr. Bobby can now say he has perfected both the laparoscopic and robotic approaches to surgery. His expertise can be seen through his outstanding surgical outcomes that stand far above the national average. Dr. Bobby noted that “When looking at each procedure; on average the Lap Band will help lose 50-60% of excess body weight, the Sleeve Gastrectomy will help lose 60-70%, and the Gastric Bypass will help lose 70-80% of excess body weight. Typically, the more complex the procedure the more weight loss you will see.”

However, there are several patients that will achieve weight loss of a 100% of their excess body weight regardless of the procedure. Nevertheless, this is true only for those patients that diligently participate in a comprehensive weight loss program that includes the support, guidance and counseling of his Registered Dietitian, Annie Mohamed. Dr. Bobby emphasizes that one of the most important aspects of successful weight loss is pre and postsurgical education and tool management counseling offered by his registered dietitian. Annie is a key member of Dr. Bobby’s staff. She has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in nutrition and has received additional training and certifications after completing her dietetic internship through rotations over L.A. county. Annie understands bariatric and weight loss patients from both a medical and surgical perspective. “She teaches patients how to utilize the tool that they have been given to maximize their weight loss and health outcomes. Annie educates patients on diet and exercise throughout their weight loss journey. She also runs the bariatric support group, sends out newsletters, and writes articles for patient support on our blog. They are constantly under her guidance which I feel is the kind of support that is needed to stay on track and make them successful,” states Dr. Bobby.

Dr. Bobby and his staff offer support groups for all patients who have had surgery. Patients are encouraged to meet on a monthly basis to discuss barriers and successes. The support group utilizes guest speakers from the community and enables patients to be successful in the long term. Support from the registered dietitian as well as their peers, proves to be an effective resource in encouraging weight loss and maintenance.

With Dr. Bobby leading the way in Robotic Bariatric Surgery, it is without doubt the finest way to perform the minimally invasive procedures. “We are now able to do these procedures on an outpatient basis. After using the safer more precise technique of Robotic Surgery, the surgeon is confident that he has done a good operation free of complications.”

His compassion and willingness to help people overcome weight issues and health complications associated with morbid obesity continues with more than 2000 successful procedures and a zero mortality rate. One such success story is Brian Michaelz, who prior to surgery weighed over 500 pounds. “I was not well, and I literally had about 6 months to live. I had severe diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and numerous other health issues. I had surgery on April 25, 2012 with Dr. Bobby and da Vinci robot, the very next day the hospital staff could not give me insulin. I am no longer diabetic, I no longer have high blood pressure, I no longer have sleep apnea, and I went from 27 medications a day to 4. I am now 21 months post op and weigh 250 pounds.” Michaelz attributes his second lease on life to Dr. Bobby and his staff at Lite Life Surgery. “I know without a doubt if I had not made the decision to move forward with this surgery from Dr. Bobby, I would not be here today enjoying life. Dr. Bobby saved my life.”

Dr. Bobby certainly has gifts and talents and they do not go unrecognized. Most recently Dr. Bobby was recognized as one of the Top Surgeons in the Nation as seen in The New York Times (June, 2013). He has received several accolades for Patients Choice Awards as being their Favorite Physician. In 2010, he was one of only four surgeons in the nation named Surgeon of the Year, with Dr. Bobby being recognized specifically for the field of Bariatric Surgery. Additionally he has also been awarded as Top Doctor in Palm Springs, Top Doctor in Los Angeles, and Top Doctor in San Diego.

Dr. Bobby is affiliated with Eisenhower Medical Center, Desert Regional Medical Center, and other facilities in Orange County and Beverly Hills. Dr. Bobby stated, “It all depends on where the patient is located, all of these facilities offer robotic surgery.”

For more information on Lite Life Surgery visit www.litelifesurgery.com or call (760) 778-5220 or toll free at 1-866-DrBobby

The change is one that begins with the patient; the surgery is a tool with a support team dedicated to success at Lite Life Surgery, led by a compassionate man, Dr. Bobby Bhasker-Rao better known as Dr. Bobby. It’s not a quick fix, it is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change with benefits toward overall health and a better quality of life.