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Memorial, BMIWLSS announce Niagara Metabolic and Bariatric Services

Area residents now have another important resource for help with serious weight issues.

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center has entered into an agreement with Buffalo Minimally Invasive Weight Loss Surgical Solutions to form Niagara Metabolic & Bariatric Services, a joint practice to provide weight-loss services including bariatric surgery at the hospital’s downtown campus.

Surgery, when appropriate, will be performed by Dr. Dang Tuan Pham (right), who specializes in minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic-assisted metabolic and weight loss surgery and was the first in Western New York to perform single-incision scarless bariatric surgery as well as robotic gastric bypass; and Dr. Bala Thatigotla (left), better known as Dr. Bala, an experienced surgeon who specialized in advanced laparoscopic surgery/bariatric and robotic surgery at the prestigious Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

“Working together with a multidisciplinary team at Niagara Falls Memorial, Dr. Bala and I will dedicate ourselves to helping improve the care and treatment of people with obesity and related diseases, therefore giving them a second chance for longevity, disease resolution and healthy life,” said Dr. Pham, the program’s medical director.  “With bariatric surgery, we aim to provide to these patients, many of whom have struggled through multiple unsuccessful attempts to correct their condition, an additional powerful tool which they can use to achieve substantial and durable weight loss.”

“In the course of performing hundreds of bariatric procedures while at Vanderbilt University, I was able to see first-hand the positive impact such surgery can make on patients’ lives,” said Dr. Bala. “This is a passion of mine and something I have wanted to do here ever since I came to Niagara.”

The program does not stop there, Dr. Pham added.

In addition to surgical intervention, Niagara Metabolic & Bariatric Services is structured to include non-surgical weight management and extensive support services such as nutrition counseling, physical therapy, cardiac rehabilitation and behavioral health/psychological support.

“In order to help the patients be successful in their decision to choose health over obesity, the comprehensive team approach is instrumental by engaging them with nutritional, educational, exercise physiology, psychological and peer-support help at every step of their life-long journey," Dr. Pham said.

Both physicians emphasized that bariatric surgery is not performed for cosmetic purposes but to address serious medical issues.  Obesity is the nation’s second leading cause of preventable death and is associated with multiple life-threatening medical conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. 

“Morbidly obese people die 10 to 15 years sooner than non-obese people,” Dr. Bala said. “This type of surgery can be a lifesaver with significant positive impact on their quality of life. It’s like a physiological rejuvenation to people with these serious weight issues.”

The types of weight-loss surgery to be offered include:

• Laparoscopic/Robotic Assisted Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass – This is the most frequently performed weight loss surgery in the United States.  The stomach is divided and a small pouch is formed as the majority of the stomach is sealed off.  This limits the body’s ability to absorb calories.
• Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy – A procedure in which the surgeon removes approximately 85 percent of the stomach and shapes the remaining stomach into a tube or “sleeve.”  This substantially decreases hunger by removing the part of the stomach that produces the main stimulating hormones.

• Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding: A procedure that artificially reduces the capacity of the stomach and helps decrease appetite by placing a band around the upper part of the stomach. This creates a small stomach pouch that can only hold a small amount of food.

“Having two experienced surgeons on staff will ensure Memorial’s bariatric surgery patients have around the clock, post-operative coverage – an important consideration given how medically fragile these patients can be,” Memorial President & CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo said. “Given the high incidence of type 2 diabetes in patients with serious weight issues, we are also very fortunate to have Dr. Anita Chaudhuri of the Diabetes & Endocrinology Center of Niagara available as a resource for this service.”

Dr. Bala noted that opting for surgical help can be a tough decision for patients to make.

“It involves self-discipline, lifetime commitment, a significant change of lifestyle habits and regular follow up,” Dr. Bala said. “In turn, it can totally transform their lives and we are proud to be able help people achieve that success.”

“We will treat each patient with the utmost compassion and respect,” Dr. Bala added. 

Ruffolo thanks staff for making Memorial a great place to work

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