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National Leaders in Complex Bariatric Surgery

Published: Jan 21, 2022

The Bariatric Surgery Program at Tampa General Hospital features a large multidisciplinary team. This team consists of specialty trained surgeons, obesity medicine physicians, nurse practitioners, dietitians, psychologists, cardiologists, pulmonologists, and exercise physiologists who manage some of the most challenging bariatric cases - from surgery to medical management to endoscopy - with optimal outcomes.

High-Volume, Minimally Invasive Procedures with Low Risk

With the largest and busiest academic robotic program in Florida, TGH offers bariatric surgery candidates the most advanced minimally invasive procedures, including laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB), Sleeve Gastrectomy, and Duodenal-Switch. The bariatric program also offered endoscopic surgery (transoral) for both new patients and revisional cases.

Bariatric surgeons at Tampa General’s Bariatric Center perform as many as 500 procedures each year with 20% being revisional. TGH consistently reports a readmission rate of less than .05% and no mortalities post-surgery.

Robust Medical Weight Loss Program

The TGH Bariatric Clinic facilitates 2,000 patient encounters each month – the highest volume in the state. It also features Florida’s first board-certified obesity medicine physician.

The clinic cares for all patients, no one is too complex or too simple. Working with the team we will formulate an individualized care plan tailored for each and every patient. This can range from the most complex Heart Failure patients in need of a new heart, to a patent that is trying to losing a few extra pounds.

Bariatric Center Transforms Morbidly Obese Patient’s Health

A patient came to TGH’s Bariatric Center with a BMI of 77, carrying over 611 pounds on his 6-feet-4 frame. In addition to his obesity, the patient suffered from sleep apnea, hypertension, and prediabetes.

Christopher DuCoin, MD, MPH, FASMBS, FACS, program director and bariatric surgeon, determined that robotic-assisted laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy would be the safest and most effective surgery for the patient. The patient met with the team who worked with him in the pre-operative setting to ensure he was fit for the operating and would have a successful outcome. The patient was in the hospital less than 24 hours, and has lost a total of 180 pounds. Not only did he lose weight, but he is also now off of his blood pressure medication and no longer requires his CPAP at night.

Complex Bariatric Surgery Gives Heart Patients New Options – and New Hope

Tampa General offers bariatric procedures to obese patients with end-stage heart, kidney or liver disease whose weight would otherwise exclude them from transplantation. Such is the case for a recent patient who benefitted from the expertise of Dr. DuCoin.

A heart failure patient who received an LVAD in 2015 desperately needed a life-saving heart transplant. But for four years, he had been unable to lose weight. His obesity made his chances too risky to be eligible for a transplant – but his LVAD and heart condition made most bariatric surgeons reluctant to operate. His prospects were diminishing fast amid mounting frustration and fear. That’s when he turned to Dr. DuCoin and the innovative, state-of-the-art bariatric surgery center at Tampa General Hospital.

The patient underwent his bariatric procedure and has lost over 80 pounds. In less than 3 months since his bariatric surgery, he has met the requirement for a heart transplant and has now been listed for his new heart.

“It’s amazing he has done so well with an LVAD, and exciting that he will now get his new heart,” says Dr. DuCoin. “To do a surgery like this you have to have a dedicated bariatric team, cardiologists, cardiac anesthesiologists, and cardio-thoracic surgeons. Then you must find all of that in a high-volume transplant and bariatric center. It is hard to find all of that in a single institute. We are fortunate that the stars have aligned just right at Tampa General to do such surgery.”

That alignment is a hallmark of TGH’s Bariatric Center, with its dynamic, integrated program offered in a handful of other hospitals nationwide. One of the keys to success is TGH bariatric surgeons’ willingness to perform bariatric surgery on high-risk patients. The complex, robotics-driven procedures continue to yield positive outcomes. It is no surprise that patients now come from throughout the Southeast for this operation, which DuCoin calls “one of the safest elective surgeries.”

Many hospitals avoid taking on the inherent risks involving obese, heart-failure patients as they cling to hopes with the clock running on their survival. But for TGH, blazing new ground is part of its DNA.

Tampa General is always exploring ways to care for the most complex cases which underscores how this game-changing bariatric surgery became a reality – helping a patient reduce a perilous 40-plus BMI to below the recommended level for transplantation.

National Leader in Bariatric Surgery

Christopher DuCoin, MD, MPH, FASMBS, FACS, and his partners Ashley Mooney MD, Salvatore Docimo DO, FASMBS, FACS, Ali Abbas, MD, MPH, Lindsey Wiles, MD, OMP, Amy Weiss, MD, MPH, are the key physicians at the Tampa General Hospital’s Bariatric Center. They are all uniquely qualified in their own manner.

Dr. DuCoin has been recognized as a “Best Doctor” in Tampa for General and Bariatric Surgery, he was the recipient of the SAGES Brandies Leadership Program for Health Policy and Management Award, was elected to the Board of SAGES, and is a Governor of the YFA. He is well-published, and a sought-out scholarly speaker with 56 regional, national, and international lectures, 44 peer-reviewed journal articles and 14 book chapters. Dr. DuCoin has also taught more than 50 surgical residents, 5 surgical Fellows, and numerous medical students the art of surgery.

Adolescent Bariatric Surgery

Dr. Mooney is the Director of the Adolescent Bariatric Surgery program and has helped numerous children not only lose weight but has cured adolescent hypertension and diabetes. She works along side Dr. Weiss who is the Medical Director of the program. Dr. Mooney and Weiss work together to ensure these children are provided the highest level of care.

Bariatric and Hernia Surgery

Dr. Docimo is a bariatric surgeon who specializes in both weight-loss surgery and hernia repair. He is the director of the USF/TGH Abdominal Core Health & Hernia Center. He helps patients get to a weight that makes their hernia surgery safe and lasting. He is a national leader on this topic with multiple publications, invited lectures, and holds positions on national surgical societies.    

Bariatric Endoscopy

Dr. Abbas is the director of the Endoscopic Bariatric Program. He is Harvard trained and performs unique transoral (incisionless) surgery. He has a number of “first” operations in the state of Florida. He is both a national speaker on the topic and well published. 

Training the next Generation

The TGH and USF Health Bariatric Center has trained numerous fellows, residents and medical students. This is a high-volume clinical center, that also takes the time to teach. You will see students and residents thoughout the clinical setting. The team is also constantly involved in research endeavors and manages a team of 50-plus researchers. We truly feel this is a triple-threat program dedicated to clinical excellence, meaningful research, and a laser-like focus on surgical education.