In an operating room at Northeast Baptist Hospital, bariatric surgeons Dr. Sonny Cavazos and Dr. J.J. Gonzalez are performing a gastric sleeve operation in a new way. They're using the Da Vinci Robot. controlling the tools from a console. The surgical site is magnified in three dimensions.
Gonzalez said, "The visualization is unbelievable. I mean, you literally see everything in 3D. It's like you're in there. It's like you're in the patient's body."
The instruments move inside the body, creating less post-op pain than conventional laparoscopy.
Cavazos said, "The movements with the robot are so precise. Not that, you know, we're particularly shabby, but but yeah, I mean, the thing is just perfect."
During the hour-and-a-half operation, doctors remove all but 20 percent of the stomach, leaving a tube-like structure.
"With 80 percent less stomach, you're only going to be able to accommodate so much food. So you're going to get full right away," said Gonzalez.
Over time, obese patients lose more than 80 percent of their excess weight. This team has performed about 10 of these procedures using the robot over the past couple of months. It's a surgery that can change lives.
"It's impossible for people who aren't obese to have an appreciation of just what they go through day to day," said Cavazos.
Northeast Baptist is one of a handful of facilities in San Antonio designated as a bariatric center of excellence. Doctors perform about 40 bariatric procedures here every month.