Winthrop’s Bariatric Surgery Center: Helping Patients Win in the Battle to Lose


Vol. 19, No. 1
Winter/Spring 2009

  • The Most Precious Gift of All

  • Winthrop Names John F. Collins President and CEO

  • Relief for Parkinson’s & Other Movement Disorders

  • Winthrop’s Bariatric Surgery Center: Helping Patients Win in the Battle to Lose

  • Winthrop Earns Prestigious Research Accreditation

  • Clinical Trials

  • Advanced Procedure & World-Class Care Provide Back Pain Relief to Patients

  • Yuletide Ball Raises Close to $90,000 in Support of Pediatric Services

  • Winthrop’s International Adoption Program: Connecting Loving Hearts and Healthy Children around the Globe

  • NY Islanders Score Big with Young Patients at Winthrop

  • The Guardian Society – Watching Over Your Future and Winthrop’s

  • Senator Fuschillo “Extends the Holidays” With Loads of Toys for Young Patients at Winthrop

  • Mineola Lions Club Shows Continued Support for Diabetes Education Center

  • Long Island Quilters Society Works of Art on Display at Cancer Center for Kids

    Back to Publications

  • Like many Americans, 64-year-old Plainview resident Michael Fishman has endured a lifelong struggle with weight.

    “I’ve tried virtually every diet and weight loss program out there, losing hundreds of pounds in the process, but never having any lasting success,” said Mr. Fishman recently.

    4-1 The remarkable transformations of his brother, niece, and work associate – all of whom experienced great success with bariatric (weight loss) surgery – in addition to a strong desire to break a family history of heart disease and early death, were motivators for Mr. Fishman to explore surgical options for weight loss. “I want to be around to see my grandchildren grow up and knew that I needed a tool to help me,” said Mr. Fishman.

    A visit with his primary care physician led him to the Bariatric Surgery Center at Winthrop-University Hospital, designated a Center of Excellence by the Surgical Review Corporation (SRC), a national non-profit organization that assesses and oversees bariatric surgery programs.

    Understanding the serious concerns of patients who wish to take the first step toward considering weight loss surgery and the significant commitment required for the success of the procedure, Winthrop’s multidisciplinary Bariatric Surgery Team, led by renowned bariatric surgery expert Collin Brathwaite, MD, Chief of the Division of Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery and Director of the Bariatric Surgery Center, offers patients sensitive and personalized care, supporting them in their every effort to improve their overall health and wellbeing.

    “Bariatric surgery provides treatment or prevention of the many medical conditions associated with obesity such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and sleep apnea,” said Dr. Brathwaite.

    “This is certainly not a cosmetic procedure. Surgery as a tool combined with a lifestyle change involving healthy food choices and exercise usually leads to long-term success.”

    A Board-certified surgeon and critical care specialist, Dr. Brathwaite is highly regarded in the field of bariatric weight loss surgery.

    Dr. Brathwaite is distinguished nationwide as a leader in the development and standardization of bariatric surgery practices. He held leadership positions at several hospitals before joining the Winthrop team in 2007 and served as a consultant to the New York State Department of Health and the New York Health Plan Association in the development of bariatric surgery guidelines for the state of New York.

    With patient safety at the forefront of its mission, Winthrop’s Bariatric Surgery Center offers a full range of weight loss surgery options including Laparoscopic Gastric Banding, Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass, and the minimally invasive Sleeve Gastrectomy – a procedure that drastically reduces the size of the stomach.

    The Center’s Team is also skilled in performing minimally invasive revision surgeries to correct and repair problems related to previous bariatric procedures using the most cuttingedge techniques. The Center recently added Single Incision Laparoscopic Surgery (SILS) to its armamentarium of treatment options as well as the new endoscopic StomaphyX™ procedure for revision of bariatric surgeries.

    “In Single Incision Laparoscopic Surgery, surgeons pass all of the necessary instruments through a single access point in the abdomen – usually the belly button,” said Alexander Barkan, MD, a Board-certified surgeon and esteemed member of Winthrop’s Bariatric Surgery Team.

    “This minimizes scarring and postsurgical pain in patients who are determined to be appropriate candidates for SILS.”

    In addition to the expert care that patients receive from the Center’s Board-certified surgeons, the Bariatric Surgery Team also includes Karen Norowski, RN, a highly skilled Bariatric Care Coordinator, as well as a dedicated team of nurses, nutritionists, and other medical specialists who play an important role in performing comprehensive medical examinations and evaluations prior to surgery.

    After learning more about bariatric surgery options at one of the Center’s free monthly informational sessions, Mr. Fishman scheduled an evaluation at Winthrop. During the initial evaluation, patients meet with a surgeon and the bariatric care coordinator to learn about their eligibility for surgery. The evaluation considers factors such as a patient’s medical history, body mass index (BMI), height and gender.

    At five feet, 10 inches tall and weighing 286 pounds at the time of his evaluation, Mr. Fishman’s BMI of 41 was considered to be extremely high by Center for Disease Control (CDC) standards. (Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 or higher; obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.)

    Upon a thorough evaluation, Mr. Fishman was determined to be a candidate for lap band surgery – a minimally invasive procedure that places an inflatable, adjustable band around the top of the stomach, limiting food intake. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and patients usually resume normal activities in one to two weeks.

    The new StomaphyX™ procedure for minimally invasive revision of prior bariatric surgeries and the new EsophyX™ treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – both available at Winthrop – are both endoscopic procedures, which means that they are carried out only through natural body channels (in this case, the esophagus) and without any incisions to the abdomen. Both procedures are part of the new state-of-the-art surgical field known as NOTES – natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery.
    Since undergoing the surgery in March 2008, Mr. Fishman has lost 80 pounds and his once high blood pressure has dropped to normal levels. Understanding that key to his success will be the continued close monitoring of eating habits and activity levels, Mr. Fishman is determined to stay on track. What’s more, his tremendous success with lap band surgery and the positive experience he had at Winthrop have inspired two of his daughters so much so that they also underwent bariatric surgery procedures at Winthrop.

    5-1 For 52-year-old Nesconset resident Paula Rudy-Messiano, bariatric surgery has also been life changing.

    “Next to getting married and having children, having bariatric surgery was the best thing I’ve ever done!” she exclaimed recently.

    Desperate for a “head start” in a battle against years of slow yet consistent weight gain, Mrs. Rudy-Messiano returned to the hospital where she delivered her children more than two decades ago to undergo gastric bypass surgery — a minimally invasive procedure that limits the size of the stomach and restructures the intestinal tract to restrict appetite and limit the calories the body can absorb.

    “My experience at Winthrop was wonderful – I can’t say enough great things,” said Mrs. Rudy-Messiano.

    “From the doctors to the nurses to the hospitality staff – everyone worked as a team and played an important part in my recovery.”

    Since having gastric bypass surgery in May 2008, Mrs. Rudy- Messiano has lost more than 105 pounds and feels terrific.

    “I’m beaming… I feel so wonderful!” she said. “Now, my only problem is shopping – I just can’t stop! Even my shoe size got smaller!” Although she did not suffer from any preexisting health conditions prior to having gastric bypass surgery, Mrs. Rudy-Messiano’s outlook on her health has also changed.

    “Food is not my priority in life anymore – my health is number one.”

    Winthrop-University Hospital’s Bariatric Surgery Center offers comprehensive services including consultation, support groups and preand post-operative care in both of its Nassau and Suffolk County offices. The Center accepts most insurance plans.

    For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (516) 663- 3300 or (631) 475-1900.



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