Since 2002, the bariatric program at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus has been serving the medical weight loss needs of northeast Kansas. With over 3,000 surgeries performed, the program is recognized as a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence.
Dr. Carlyle Dunshee, bariatric surgeon at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus, is giving us an in-depth look into the bariatric program and what it takes to be successful post-surgery.
After studying under renowned bariatric surgeon Dr. Walter Poories at East Carolina University, Dunshee landed in Topeka and helped orchestrate the launch of the bariatric program. “We decided to start the program at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus because of the demand and interest from the public,” said Dr. Dunshee. “This was in the early 2000s and there weren’t many bariatric surgeons. We were one of the first programs in the state of Kansas to do this type of surgery. We really believed in what the surgery could do for people and felt a need to cater to those potential patients.”
Program coordinator Brenda Holliday was instrumental in getting the program started. She lived in the Topeka area and had been looking for facilities that offered bariatric surgery. Holliday ended up having her surgery done in St. Louis. “When Brenda returned, she sought out surgeons and let us know that this was something that people in the Topeka area really wanted and that we needed to start a program,” said Dunshee. “Shortly after, we launched the program.”
Over the years, comprehensive care has become an important factor in the program. “We work with our patients from the very beginning to provide complete comprehensive care,” said Dr. Dunshee. “We base surgical decisions on the needs of each patient and choose the best option for that individual. Each patient is different and needs specialized care in different ways.”
Dunshee is continuously moved by the difference that bariatric surgery can make in one’s life. “What’s so inspiring to me about working with our patients is the change that the surgery can make in their lives,” said Dr. Dunshee.
“Witnessing the multiple victories each patient experiences throughout their bariatric journey is incredibly gratifying and very meaningful to them,” said Dunshee. “These are people that haven’t been able to travel because they couldn’t fit in an airplane seat or they couldn’t get on the floor to play with their grandchildren. Bariatric surgery has allowed these patients to get their lives back and enjoy all of the little things that they weren’t able to before.”
Bariatric surgery is often described as the easy way out. Dunshee wants people to see past that and to truly understand obesity.
“Obesity is a multi-factorial disease,” said Dr. Dunshee. “Genetic, behavioral, societal and biological issues all need to be factored in. Obesity can lead to other diseases like diabetes, sleep apnea and high blood pressure, among other things. Obesity has also become one of the number one causes of many cancers. Regular diet and exercise regimens are oftentimes not successful for individuals with major weight problems. While obesity cannot be cured, we have this incredible tool that can help individuals treat obesity and other health problems they might be experiencing because of obesity. Patients still have to work extremely hard post-surgery. Lifestyle changes such as diet modification and consistent exercise regimens will be a part of their lives forever.”
If you are interested in learning more about the bariatric program at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus, attend one of our free informational seminars, which are held on the second Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon. If you are unable to attend one of the monthly seminars, you can watch our online seminar. For additional information, please call (785) 228-4773 to speak with our bariatric nurse or coordinator.