Valley Baptist-Brownsville Now Offering Robotic Surgical Weight Loss Procedures

Feb 12, 2018

BROWNSVILLE  - The Valley Baptist Medical Center-Brownsville Surgical and Medical Weight Loss Program has added robotic surgical procedures to its lineup to bolster the fight against obesity in the Rio Grande Valley.

Accredited through the “Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program,” which is sponsored by the American College of Surgeons in partnership with the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, the Valley Baptist-Brownsville Surgical and Medical Weight Loss Program is the only accredited bariatric program in Brownsville, and is one of only two accredited programs in Cameron County. The Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen Surgical and Medical Weight Loss Program is accredited through the same quality improvement program.

“We believe that robotic surgery is a technology that is here to stay,” said Dr. Carlos Barba, Medical Director of the Valley Baptist-Brownsville Surgical and Medical Weight Loss Program. “With the addition of new equipment at Valley Baptist, bariatric procedures can now be performed completely robotically by the surgeon controlling the robot.”

Before the introduction of fully-robotic weight loss surgery at Valley Baptist-Brownsville, many bariatric surgeries had been performed in a hybrid fashion, using both robotic and laparoscopic surgical techniques.

“Through robotic surgery, certain types of procedures may be easier,” he said. “With the technology we now have at our disposal, everything is faster and quicker. Perhaps the biggest advantage of the robot is the capability to perform intracorporeal sutures (sutures within the body) so much easier. With the robotic instrument’s ability to rotate precisely, it is like a surgeon is suturing normally. The other big advantage is visualization – everything is in 3D, so depth perception is superior to regular laparoscopy.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults in the United States suffer from obesity, and Hispanics have the second highest age-adjusted rates of obesity at more than 42 percent.

Obesity is a risk factor in many serious and life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

The Valley Baptist-Brownsville Surgical and Medical Weight Loss Program offers two different surgical weight-loss procedures. Each has specific risks and benefits, and the program’s staff will review those risks and benefits with each patient to help choose the appropriate course of treatment.

One procedure is the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, which involves removing between 60 and 80 percent of the stomach. The remaining portion of the stomach looks like a small tube, or sleeve. A smaller stomach can lead to less consumption of food, and that, along with a slower digestive process, can lead to weight loss.

The other procedure is the Laparoscopic gastric bypass. This surgery creates a small pouch at the top of the stomach, and in addition the small bowel is divided. The biliopancreatic limb is reattached to the small bowel on one end, and the other is connected to the pouch, creating what’s called a Roux limb. The pouch releases food slowly, so the patient feels full after eating very little food.  

“In many cases, gastric bypass surgery can be the most effective long-term tool for weight loss and resolution of medical problems associated with obesity and associated diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, arthritis, acid reflux, and more,” Barba said.

Marcela Montemayor, Program Director of the Valley Baptist-Brownsville Surgical and Medical Weight Loss Program, said the program’s surgical procedures are just one facet of the services it provides. Surgical and Medical Weight Loss Program patients are also provided education to help them transform their lifestyle and make the commitment to healthier diets.

 “What we try to do is educate our patients on what the procedures are about and exactly how the doctor changes their anatomy during the procedures and how these changes can benefit their lives. We explain exactly what lifestyle changes are required to help make this procedure successful, because we’re looking for long-term goals,” she said. “We want to make changes that last a lifetime. People need help analyzing their lifestyles and dietary habits so they can make beneficial changes to help them reach their goals.”

For Valley residents looking for surgical options to lose weight, Valley Baptist-Brownsville holds free “Introduction to Surgical & Medical Weight Loss Options” patient information seminars each month. To RSVP for an upcoming seminar, please call 1-888-902-5433.  For more information about surgical weight loss options, contact your physician and Montemayor at (956) 698-5220 or by e-mail at [email protected], and visit

Weight loss surgery is generally designed for those with a body mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 40, or equal to or greater than 35 with serious co-morbidities. Weight loss surgery is considered safe, but like many types of surgery, it does have risks. Consult with your physician about the risks and benefits of weight loss surgery. Patient testimonials reflect results achieved by these patients. As each case must be independently evaluated and managed, actual weight loss will vary.

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