Lakewood Clinic Pioneers “Scar Free” Bariatric Surgery

Flower Mound resident Ned Spiritas was mortally obese, clocking in at more than 400 pounds.  After trying every option he could think of to take off the excess weight – including losing and gaining back 100 pounds twelve different times – Spiritas became despondent and nearly gave up hope.

He canvassed the country, meeting with some of the leading surgeons in the emerging field of bariatric surgery.  One surgeon was consistently recommended for his skills and for the weight loss surgery program he had started at Baylor University Medical Center: Dr. Todd McCarty.

Spiritas met with McCarty, who discussed the various options available to him.  Shortly thereafter, Spiritas underwent outpatient laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery.  He subsequently dropped more than 200 pounds, kept it off, and now leads a vibrant, healthy lifestyle.

“Dr. McCarty’s surgical skill was exemplary and his overall care impressive,” said Spiritas.  “I truly believe he saved my life.  Now, I’m not only much healthier and more active, I regularly ride in 100-mile bike events at the age of 70 and I’ve even climbed the Great Wall of China.  My lifestyle transformation has been extraordinary.”

Hundreds of thousands of men and women have undergone one form or another of bariatric surgery, a procedure designed to reduce the size of the stomach.  The surgery has proven effective in reducing obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and premature mortality, among other health issues.

Until recently, however, bariatric surgery required multiple abdominal incisions, which can cause significant discomfort and extended recovery times, and which leave behind visible external scars.  The risk of complications also increases with every incision.

Todd McCarty, and his Lakewood Weight Loss & Wellness Clinic, is in the process of revolutionizing bariatric surgery.  Last November, McCarty successfully performed “natural orifice” surgery on a female patient in the first nearly scar-free bariatric operation in Texas. 

The patient returned home the next day and is now following a scientifically based nutritional and exercise plan designed by the Lakewood Clinic to optimize weight loss and ensure long-term success.

This cutting-edge procedure, which involved accessing the patient’s stomach through the back of the vaginal wall, is the first of what is likely to be the most important advance in the field of bariatric surgery in more than a decade.  The natural orifice procedure can also be performed orally, via the esophagus.  Both men and women are candidates for this approach.

“For too long, bariatric surgery has been entrenched in older techniques that place more emphasis on profit than patient comfort and care,” said Dr. McCarty.  “If we don’t have to make five or six incisions in our patients to perform a safe and successful surgery, we owe it to them not to.”

As with all of Dr. McCarty’s operations, the natural orifice procedures will be tracked in a clinical research database, presented in peer-reviewed surgical society meetings and published in leading medical journals for the benefit of other bariatric surgeons and programs. Lakewood Weight Loss & Wellness is one of a very few bariatric surgery programs in the nation to offer this surgical technique, in part because of the advanced surgical skills and credentialing required.  Bariatric surgeons should not attempt to perform the natural orifice procedure without substantial additional training.

“I have built my practice from its inception on the premise that surgery, when necessary, is the first step in every patient’s weight loss journey, not the final destination,” explained McCarty. 

Psychological support is important for most patients undergoing weight loss surgery, and the team at Lakewood takes a unique approach.  McCarty states, “In its purest sense, overeating shares many similarities to other substance abuse disorders.  We offer insight and support to help each individual understand the role overeating plays in their life.  Without this, many patients will regain their weight regardless of how the surgery is performed.” 

Dr. McCarty was among the first to perform many advanced laparoscopic operations, including surgery of the stomach and esophagus, spleen, liver and bile ducts, and adrenal glands, as well as weight-loss surgery procedures.  He has been a leader in teaching bariatric surgery on both the local and national levels, and has served as a faculty member for the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Previous clinical research published by McCarty formed the foundation upon which the Milliman Clinical Care Guidelines set the nationally accepted standards for laparoscopic bariatric surgery.  The 14th edition of the Milliman guidelines is used by more than 1,800 hospitals, seven of the eight largest insurance carriers and 25 centers for Medicare and Medicaid services auditing contractors nationwide.

In contrast to many bariatric surgical programs, Lakewood does not require unnecessary pre-operative medical tests like endoscopy, sleep studies, upper GIs or sonograms, among others. 

“Bariatric surgery isn’t an inexpensive proposition to begin with, so I find it unreasonable to obtain these tests when there’s rarely any medical justification for them whatsoever,” said McCarty.

Dr. McCarty is board Certified general surgeon who received his residency training at Baylor University Medical Center and cancer fellowship training at City of Hope National Medical Center.  He has keen interest in minimally invasive surgery and trained many of the surgeons in the Dallas Metroplex and across the nation.

The Lakewood Weight Loss & Wellness Clinic, located in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas, specializes in a wide range of cutting-edge disciplines, including general surgery, surgical oncology, nutritional counseling, metabolic testing, male vitality therapy (low HGH and testosterone) and Botox treatments. The bariatric procedures offered by Lakewood include laparoscopic gastric sleeve, bypass, band, duodenal switch and revision of previous operations. 

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