More than 20 years ago Lindsay Washburn was dealt a hand she wasn’t expecting.
She was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease; an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.
March is Colon Cancer Awareness month, and for those who are 50 and older, it’s a good time to have a conversation with your doctor about getting a colonoscopy.
For many, just the idea of a colonoscopy produces enough anxiety to keep them from having it done. But putting it off, even for just a year or two, could mean the difference between a simple procedure to remove small polyps and having to undergo serious treatment if a polyp progresses into cancer.
In a two-part series, KCAU’s Tim Seaman shares his personal experience with this potentially life-saving screening, and assures us all that there is no reason to avoid it.
In Part One, which you can find here, Seaman talks to his doctor about the procedure, and interviews a local barber who tells a cautionary tale about waiting too long to get screened for colon cancer.
Part Two, found here, follows Seaman as he sets up an appointment with Dr. Michalak and goes through with the entire procedure, including the “dreaded” prep. Throughout it all, he found no reason to avoid getting a colonoscopy, and encourages everyone who has been putting it off to start that conversation.
This October, Dr. Paul Johnson was recognized at a ceremony in Lincoln, Neb., for performing multiple surgeries on John Dunning, who survived a tornado in fall 2013 near Wayne, Neb.
Johnson, a general surgeon at Midlands Clinic and Mercy Medical Center – Sioux City, said of Dunning’s condition upon arrival, “I was amazed at the amount of injuries he had to the skin. It looked like he’d gotten sandblasted [from all the debris that assaulted his skin]. That was in addition to the large lacerations that he had and the fractures that he had.”
According to Johnson, Dunning required 38 procedures to treat his many injuries, including a tracheostomy and a feeding tube. Those procedures were completed slowly, over the period of several weeks, before Dunning was transferred to Madonna Rehabilitation Center, where he began a rigorous physical therapy regimen.
Madonna honored Dunning and three others with a GOAL award, and during the ceremony, the efforts of Johnson and other doctors were celebrated with a luncheon.
CORRECTION: The video states that the KYBELLA™ procedure costs “around $5,000.” The correct price is $1200.
There’s a new treatment to melt away “double-chin fat,” and you don’t have to go under the knife for it.
The Kybella procedure is an FDA approved non- surgical injection, which eliminates fat below the chin.
Midlands Clinic Dermatologist Dr. Indy Chabra is one of the first dermatologists in Siouxland to offer the fat removing treatment.
“The product works by dissolving fat cells and releasing the fat, so it works in a permanent manner. So the number of injections really depends on the degree of submental fullness, how much fat there is underneath the chin. So it varies person to person. In this patient, it was 20 injections.”
The procedure costs $1200. Chabra says his patients experience visible results around their chin and areas around the neck.
“We look at weight loss surgery as just a tool it is not a quick fix or an easy way out,” said Megan Cleveland, Midlands Clinic. “So to really help the patients be successful with this tool, the educational program is really necessary along with the support group.”
The Educational program team includes registered dieticians, registered nurses, psychologists and bariatric surgeons.
“And so we really work together as a multidisciplinary team to help the patients not only physically but emotionally mentally prepare for the life style changes that they will have to make,” said Cleveland.
Doctors also recommend these patients join support groups to help them through these major life changes.
“If you are on a typical diet, you have the decision of either following your diet that day or not,” said Cleveland. “They don’t have that decision any longer because weight loss surgery is a permanent change to your body.”
Each group includes 10 to 30 patients and they talk about good eating habits and avoiding bad habits.
“So we really try to teach them not only alternatives of things they can do other than rewarding with food but also coping mechanisms to not use foods for comfort or to celebrate or to mourn” said Cleveland. “But to try to rely on some other things.”
Though the Midlands Clinic is one place to find a weight loss support group, you can also find other groups in the community and online.
It is no surprise that obesity can lead to a lot of complications.
Dr. Keith Vollstedt of Mercy Medical Group said, “That excess weight that we carry also contributes to pain on the joints, pain in the back, contributes to high blood pressure, acid reflux disease and getting that weight off can improve people’s overall physical condition. And hopefully reduce the use of medications or pills, and maybe some further surgeries down the road.”
This is why doctors recommend surgeries that can help with weight loss for patients who are 100 pounds overweight and have other health problems.
“Mercy and our group Midlands Clinic Office, offers a gastric by-pass, we offer a gastric sleeve resection, and we offer the adjustable gastric band.”
Each surgery has its benefits over the other and you and your doctor can decide which is best for you.
The surgeries usually require one to two nights in the hospital and up to 3 weeks of recovery at home.
Doctors also recommend time with a dietician before the surgery to create good eating habits.
But the key thing is, “When the person is ready to change their life, when they are ready to eat differently, when they are ready to give up foods, certain foods, when they are ready to start exercising, then we can have a successful operation and people are successful with the surgery.”
But remember these surgeries are not permanent, when patients fall back into old habits they will regain the weight.
Colonoscopies can be uncomfortable to talk about. But regular checkups could save you from the second leading cause of cancer.
Siouxland News Reporter Katie Link went to Midlands Clinic to learn more about this life saving procedure.
Dr. Michalak, Gastroenterologist at Midlands Clinic said, “So colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer in the united states it accounts for over eight percent of all cancer deaths in the United States.”
Dr. Michalak is a Gastroenterologist at Midlands Clinic he says that many people still aren’t getting screened.
“Usually this occurs after the age of 50… about 90% of all cancers are diagnosed after the age of 50 which is why we recommend colorectal cancer screenings to begin at the age of 50 for the average risk person,” said Dr. Michalak.
Many may find it uncomfortable to do the screening but it could save your life.
“Colonoscopy is done specifically to find polyps, specifically abnormal polyps that will form into colon cancer … if we find these polyps early we can remove them and decrease the risk of developing colon cancer,” said Dr. Michalak.
Knowing your family history is important since cases of colon cancer in your family can increase your risk.
“There are risk factors though…family members that have had abnormal polyps, family members with colorectal cancer… Those patients should be screened sooner. 10 years before the time that their family member was diagnosed,” said Dr. Michalak.
Obese patients wanting to go under the knife to lose weight now have another option: laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.
Since it made its debut in Siouxland in May, the procedure, which decreases feelings of hunger and the capacity to eat more by removing a portion of the stomach and re-shaping the remaining stomach into a sleeve, has grown in popularity, according to William Rizk, a bariatric surgeon at Midlands Clinic in Dakota Dunes.
By late August, Rizk and his colleague, Keith Vollstedt, had performed 10 laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomies between the two of them in Sioux City. The procedure joins laparoscopic gastric banding and laparoscopic gastric bypass.
“This is the en vogue surgery right now,” Rizk said just minutes before stepping into the operating room at Mercy Medical Center to perform the procedure on a woman.
“We really started doing it to satisfy patient demand. People come in absolutely seeking to have a sleeve. It’s very popular.”
BYPASS, SLEEVE OR BAND?
Laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is the most common weight loss sugery. It is also the most invasive and effective, according to Rizk. Laparoscopic gastric banding on the other end of the spectrum is the least invasive and the least effective. Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, he said, falls somewhere in the middle.
“Why someone would choose the sleeve gastrectomy is it’s less invasive as far as intestinal rerouting,” Rizk said. “There would be less malabsorption of certain vitamins while still having the advantage of significant weight loss.”
During the procedure, special laparoscopic stapling devices are used to reduce the human stomach from the size of a football to the size of a banana, according to Rizk.
“We put a sizing device that goes through the mouth, down the esophagus, down through the stomach and we staple along this sizing device to help us determine the diameter of this little banana,” he said.
About 80 to 85 percent of the stomach is then removed through one of five little incisions in the patient’s abdomen. A smaller stomach, Rizk said, will hold less food.
Ghrelin, a hormone produced by cells in the stomach, causes the feeling of hunger. After removing part of the stomach, Rizk said hunger dramatically decreases.
“As a patient eats a smaller amount of food, the stomach stretches slightly and sends a signal to the brain,” he explained. “The brain interprets that as being satisfied and the patients are no longer hungry.”
Although the stomach will stretch some after surgery, Rizk said it won’t stretch enough to allow patients to eat normally again. Eating frequent small meals, he said, is how most people gain weight back after having weight loss surgery.
“Grazing is the Achilles heel to all weight loss surgery, whether it’s a band, bypass or a sleeve,” he said. “If you eat a small amount for many hours a day, there’s potential that weight will be regained.”
Patients can expect to lose half a pound to a pound a day for the first four to six weeks following laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, according to Rizk. He said someone who weighs 450 pounds will lose more total pounds than someone who weighs 250.
“Most of these patients are morbidly obese, so to lose 100 to 150 pounds is very common,” he said. “If someone is going to go through surgical weight loss, it’s usually for a significant amount of weight. Our goal is to get them not to ideal weight, but to a healthy weight.”
Rizk cautions that weight loss surgery is a significant behavioral and psychological undertaking for patients and requires extensive counseling before and after surgery.
“Someone might see me today and have a gall bladder surgery tomorrow, it doesn’t work that way with weight loss surgery,” he said.
Rizk said occasionally patients will decide not to go through weight loss surgery after beginning counseling. Some, he said, will come back a year later when they feel more prepared to make lifestyle changes.
“If you’re going to undergo a surgery that is dramatically going to change the way you eat, you have to be ready to change your lifestyle,” he said.
Single Site Surgery has become a new advancement in the medical world.
It’s the newest trend in minimally invasive surgery: the single incision laparoscopic procedure.
“All of our instruments go through this one sleeve into the abdominal cavity as opposed to three or four separate sleeves with traditional laparoscopic surgery. So this would require a slightly less than a one inch incision to place this and then our instruments would go through these ports and all go through one incision,” said Dr. William Rizk, General Surgeon at Midlands Clinic.
And Dr. William Rizk says that makes the cosmetic effect dramatically better.
“Some people refer to it as a scarless surgery because the way we make our incision in the belly button, really hides the incision surprisingly well.”
Dr. Rizk says those who have undergone this procedure experience less pain.
“This is the actual sleeve that goes, creates a tube that goes into the body and then we tighten it up against the muscle wall.”
And Midlands Clinic in Sioux City is the only surgical group performing single incision on gallbladders.
“I personally have done over 120 of these procedures. We’ve had great success. As with any laparoscopic surgery, the recovery is rapid. Most patients are back to work in one to two weeks similarly with a single incision, patients have a very rapid recovery, a return to work in one to two weeks and are very happy with their cosmetic appearance after the surgery,” said Dr. Rizk.