Can you explain a little about what you do as a Consultant GI and Bariatric Surgeon?
I specialise in surgical procedures involving the abdominal organs, but my sub-specialty is in the management of excess weight using both surgical and non-surgical methods.
What attracted you to specialising in bariatrics?
For years, I worked as an upper gastrointestinal surgeon and treated patients with cancer of the oesophagus and stomach. After realising it wasn’t for me, I decided to switch my practice to something completely different – the management of benign gastrointestinal disorders and weight loss surgery. At the time, weight loss surgery was fairly common in the US but had only recently reached the UK.
Having previously trained at Stanford University Medical Center, I returned to the US to study at the University of Rochester Medical Center where I spent over a year training in minimally invasive bariatric surgery in one of the highest volume units. I knew straightaway that this was the career for me.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
There is so much more to bariatric surgery than helping people lose weight. For me, witnessing the improvement in my patients’ chronic illnesses – such as type 2 diabetes – is immensely satisfying. My patients are always so happy, not just with their weight loss but with the massive improvement in their quality of life. It's incredible to know that with one 30-minute keyhole surgery, a one-night stay in hospital and complete recovery in a few days, you can have such a dramatic change in someone’s life.
I also enjoy the technical aspect of my work. As a child, when I would play (a lot of!) video games, I realised that I had a real talent for hand-eye coordination. This, coupled with the fine dexterity needed for surgical procedures, led me to specialize in minimally invasive or laparoscopic surgery. Within this specialty, weight loss operations are among the most complex and technically challenging – for example, a surgeon is required to be able to perform highly intricate manoeuvres using knitting needle-like tools on living organs that are 40-50cms away from their fingers.
Why did you choose to join Cromwell Hospital?
Cromwell Hospital is London’s largest private hospital. It's like working in a large teaching university hospital, with great colleagues and staff available 24/7.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love to cook! It might sound bizarre for a weight loss specialist who focuses on reducing people’s appetite and eating – but I find it really relaxing to come back from work, immerse myself in a recipe, and create something delicious from scratch. I don’t enjoy cleaning up afterwards though!
Can you tell us one surprising thing about yourself?
Most people cannot work out where I am from by speaking to me, as I have the genuine trans-Atlantic accent. This probably stems from the fact that as a child I studied in international schools, where I learned to speak French before English. I only switched to an English-taught education from the age of 10!