By Erika Z. Byrd
Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It carries an increased risk for many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, gallbladder disease, arthritis and cancer among others. Approximately 270,000 adult deaths are attributed to obesity annually as reported by the National Institute of Health. Considered one of the biggest public health problems of the 21st century, the percentage of obese American adults continues to rise and is projected to reach or exceed 44% in every state by 2030.
Bariatric surgery, more commonly known as weight-loss surgery, can hold the key to unlocking the chains of those imprisoned by obesity. For people who are 100 pounds or more overweight or 75 pounds overweight with other medical conditions, bariatric surgery offers the opportunity for sustainable weight loss resulting in a better quality of life and improvement of obesity-related medical conditions.
Ramy A. Awad, MD, a board-certified, fellowship-trained bariatric surgeon specializing in minimally-invasive techniques, considers bariatric surgery his calling. There is no greater reward for him, than the transformation of a patient – not just physically and medically, but how it affects their entire wellbeing. “It allows them to hatch out of their shell and become who they were meant to be,” said Dr. Awad.
“There are very few things that can change people’s lives as dramatically as bariatric surgery,” he continued. “It helps in a multitude of ways. Shortly after surgery, a majority of my patients’ weight-related medical problems are resolved and many are off most if not all their medications.”
Dr. Awad has performed over 1,000 bariatric procedures – both primary and complex revision surgery – including the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy. Dr. Awad’s advanced surgical training provides his patients with excellent results as he maintains an impressive track record of safety with outcomes better than the national average. In 2014, Dr. Awad was named a Vitals Top Ten Doctor based on patient satisfaction and reviews. Of the nation’s 870,000 active doctors, he is among the top 1 percent to earn this award.
Dr. Awad’s top-rated schooling spans both coasts. He earned his undergraduate degree at UCLA and his Medical Degree from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Returning to California, he completed his surgical residency at the University of California in Irvine. He also devoted an additional year training at the University of Florida for a minimally invasive surgery fellowship with a focus on bariatric surgery.
While the majority of Dr. Awad’s practice is devoted to bariatric surgery, as a skilled laparoscopic surgeon, he also performs gallbladder, colorectal and other intestinal surgeries. Always at the forefront of the latest surgical techniques, Dr. Awad was the first physician in the Coachella Valley to perform a da Vinci robotically-assisted cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) – a procedure performed via a small single incision at the umbilicus with a virtually scarless result. He also is the only physician in the Valley and one of a small number of surgeons in the country trained to implant the LINX® System – a small magnetic band which is placed around the lower portion of the esophagus to reinforce a weak sphincter and treat acid reflux essentially eliminating the need for medication.
Dr. Awad believes in a multi-disciplinary approach to weight loss and offers his bariatric patients access to a psychologist, dietician and fitness coach along with other specialists. Patients also can join a support group and social media network as well as attend informative and motivational lectures. In addition to his private practice, Dr. Awad serves as the Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at Desert Regional Medical Center, designated a Center of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
What patients find with Dr. Awad at Desert Surgical & Bariatric Specialists, is a team who compassionately listens to them and provides all aspects of pre- and post-operative education, structure and support for their journey to a better quality of life. Office Manager Cathy Ripley not only assists patients through the entire process from consultation to post-surgery follow-up visits, she also relates through personal experience having had a gastric bypass by Dr. Awad in late 2010. She joined his staff a year later and enjoys helping others achieve the success she has obtained.
“The level of respect I have for Dr. Awad is immense,” said Ripley. “What he does is more than surgery. It’s the gift of a new life. It’s given me and other patients a tool to lose the weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
At 5’ 4”, Ripley was 268 pounds with a body mass index (BMI) of 46 (considered morbidly obese), when her doctor referred her for gastric bypass surgery. Today Ripley is 140 pounds with a BMI of 24. Previously a size 24, she surpassed her goal of being a size 14, and now wears a single-digit size 8.
“I am so grateful to be able to share my weight loss journey and experiences with our patients,” said Ripley, “It’s a daily reward to see others experience this life-changing transformation.”
Scott Moss, 60, of Palm Desert is celebrating a remarkable turnaround in his health following a sleeve gastrectomy this past October. For over 10 years, Moss had been battling Type 2 Diabetes and was on about 12 different medications. In seven months, he has lost 106 pounds and no longer needs diabetes medication.
“This has been life changing for me,” said Moss. “It eliminated my diabetes which was spiraling out of control and required an enormous amounts of insulin. My cholesterol level has been reduced by half and my blood pressure is now normal at 108/62.”
“I can’t say enough about Dr. Awad and his staff. They are so supportive and have helped me succeed and maintain my success,” he said.
A former professional chef and seafood wholesaler, Moss plans to share his new passion for healthy cooking with fellow patients as a guest presenter at bariatric support group meetings.
If you or a loved one is ready to experience the transformation of weight-loss surgery, you will not find a more capable or compassionate partner for your journey than Dr. Awad and his team. To learn more about weight-loss surgery or register for a free educational seminar, call the office at (760) 866-0024. You can also find more information at www.desertbariatrics.com or www.facebook.com/desertbariatrics where you can read patient testimonials and see before and after photos.
Desert Surgical & Bariatric Specialists
555 E. Tachevah Drive, Suite 2W-107
Palm Springs, CA 92262