Mar 26, 2015 7:44 PM

NH1 News Investigates Cutting Edge: In the operating room of robotic weight loss surgery

MANCHESTER - Courtney Swan has two young girls.

Her 2-year-old daughter has Down syndrome. Sometimes she worries about being able to care for her long-term.

Courtney said, "I used to work next to a doctor's office, and a couple came in with their daughter and she was in her 40s and she had Down syndrome. They were probably in their late 70s, but they were in incredible shape. I said, 'I need to be that.' "

Courtney scheduled her bypass surgery the very next day. Her chronic weight problem has left her with high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome and debilitating arthritis.

Courtney said, "I can barely pick up my daughter. She's almost 2 and doesn't walk, so picking her up is pretty regular throughout the day. The heavier I get, the worse it gets."

After years of unsuccessful dieting, she turned to surgeon Dr. Robert Catania. He performs a new, cutting edge robotic bypass surgery. We were in the operating room for Courtney's surgery at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester.

Dr. Catania said, "In straight laparoscopic surgery the instruments only go up down, side to side and open and close, whereas with the robot we're able to actually move the wrists on the instruments, so it gives you a lot more degrees of freedom."

With robotic weight loss surgery there are fewer complications, lower infection rates, shorter hospital stays, less pain, and less scarring inside and out.

"It avoids using a lot of staplers and permanent stitches, things that can cause complications down the road."

Dr. Catania says the average person who has weight loss surgery lives much longer than an obese person and takes fewer medications. Without surgery the likelihood of losing 100 pounds is about 10 percent or less, but with the surgery it's a 70 percent chance of losing weight. The overall outcome is higher quality of life.

"People who couldn't ride in a kayak can now do that. People who couldn't walk up a flight of stairs now run a 10k or a marathon. So it really changes lives dramatically," said Dr. Catania.

Linda Lance says it's changed her life. At just six weeks out of surgery she's lost 35 pounds and is off seven medications. She said, "I'm off of all of my medications but one for blood pressure. I'm on no medication whatsoever for the diabetes. I was on 60 units a day of insulin before- now I take none."

Dr. Catania says most people see their type 2 diabetes reverse, and many are able to get their blood pressure back in check. Patients are up and walking around the same day, and go home after two days. Most take just two weeks off from work.

For more about the surgery, including some more graphic video, view surgeon commentary about the entire operation narrated by Dr. Adrian Thomas - surgeon and NH1 News Medical Expert.

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