Dr. Bobby Bhasker-Rao is a leading expert in the field of robotic surgery.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MONOCLE PROJECT
When weight-loss specialist Dr. Bobby Bhasker-Rao reflects back on the early days of his 18-year-old Valley practice, it never would have occurred to him then that he would one day be seen as a leading expert in the field of robotic surgery. Yet 11 years after performing the very first robotic bariatric procedure in Southern California, that is precisely the case. As an early forward-thinking adopter of the renowned da Vinci robotic surgical system, Bhasker-Rao — known to patients as Dr. Bobby — trailblazed a path many surgeons now eagerly follow.
A Changed Landscape
“It’s very gratifying to me to see more and more acceptance of the technology that very few believed in a little over a decade ago,” says Dr. Bobby. In the beginning, his vision was met with skepticism from colleagues and patients alike who questioned his methods although never his bariatric expertise. Today he serves as a key opinion leader and educator in the realm of da Vinci robot assisted surgeries. Surgeons come from near and far to observe him in the operating room or he travels to other hospitals to train them in person.
Patients benefit from the ergonomic gains a surgeon realizes when he or she performs bariatric procedures robotically. Since surgeons are seated while operating, they are able to see with greater clarity and to perform procedures they never would have attempted laparoscopically. A less tired surgeon is a more effective one and as is the case with Dr. Bobby, one more inclined to take on complex revisional procedures. “I’m able to help a wider spectrum of patients because I can do so much more.”
No Going Back
Hesitancy on the part of patients has virtually disappeared. “Robotic surgery is seen as cutting edge and no one wants their bariatric procedures performed any other way these days,” Dr. Bobby explains. It certainly made patient Denise Trotter’s decision to undergo a sleeve gastrectomy 11 months ago an easy one. “I knew the healing time would be so much quicker.
I was up and walking two hours after surgery and I went home the next day,” said the 64-year-old who sought to lose 60 pounds in order to address a host of health concerns.
Now just a few pounds shy of her ideal weight, Trotter has seen her Type 2 diabetes and a couple of other co-morbidities resolve themselves. As Dr. Bobby is quick to stress, bariatric surgery is a tool that patients must learn to use correctly to meet their goals. They get plenty of help doing so from his skilled staff which includes dietitian Courtney Pogue, M.S., R.D. and nurse practitioner Heather Lewis, FNP-C.
Heather Lewis FNP-C, Courtney Pogue MS RDN, Bobby Bhasker-Rao M.D., Sarina Contreras, Alexis Villavicencio MA, and Brianna Anaya MA.
A Caring Team
Dr. Bobby’s team offers a comprehensive obesity care model encouraging a healthy lifestyle, goal setting through diet and nutrition, promotion of physical activity, and the ability to help patients learn to self-monitor their personal barriers to change and strategize on how to overcome them.
“It’s what we practice,” said Lewis. Trotter, for one, can attest to its validity. “Dr. Bobby and his staff are so encouraging. I definitely feel like it’s a team effort. It’s not just me doing this by myself.”
Accolades And More
Nationally recognized as Best of the Best among Bariatric Surgeons, Dr. Bobby serves as the Director of the Bariatric Program at EMC which is currently credentialed as a comprehensive bariatric program and a Center of Excellence by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). Dr. Bobby is one of very few surgeons in the country able to boast a zero-mortality rate and consistent superior outcomes.
Lite Life Surgery, 35900 Bob Hope Drive, Suite 205, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270. 760-778-5220; litelifesurgery.com