Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Lecture Debuts

Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Lecture Debuts

Over the past 36 years, bariatric surgeon Bruce D. Schirmer, MD, FACS, MAMSE, has witnessed an extraordinary evolution in the success rate and perception of his specialty.

“Bariatric surgeons in this country were generally viewed as a fringe group when I first started doing bariatric surgery,” Dr. Schirmer said.

Today he will deliver the inaugural Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Lecture at 2:30 pm.

Despite a yearslong struggle toward acceptance and recognition, bariatric surgeons were able to decrease the mortality rate of these procedures tenfold over just 20 years. This improvement in patient safety was largely due to increased data monitoring and reporting levels, Dr. Schirmer explained. Additionally, bariatric surgery centers of excellence have been established to monitor outcomes and set a new standard for quality improvements in surgery. 

Due to an application through the American Board of Medical Specialties in 2021, The American Board of Surgery determined that bariatric surgery would be the first “focused-designated practice.” If bariatric surgeons pass a test to demonstrate their expertise, they receive certification in focused practice for bariatric surgery.

“I think that really attests to the legitimacy, acceptability, and outstanding achievements bariatric surgery has accomplished during my lifetime,” Dr. Schirmer said.

Wanting to build on this momentum, his message for Clinical Congress attendees is simple: Don’t stop now.

“Our biggest challenge is that we’re only now beginning to understand the disease of obesity and how to work in conjunction with medical colleagues to provide lifelong ways for patients to keep the weight off,” Dr. Schirmer said. “More importantly, there are still only 1% of patients each year who elect to have metabolic and bariatric surgery. What we really need to do is figure out what is wrong with our marketing and public education.”

It is odd for a treatment option that ensures the best long-term results and low patient safety risks to be underutilized to this extent. This can likely be attributed to factors such as public opinion and the multibillion-dollar health and dieting industry, which has convinced many that obesity is a result of laziness rather than a disease that can be treated by medical providers, Dr. Schirmer said.

While this lecture focuses on the bariatric surgeon’s perspective, the topic is relevant to all providers who care for obese patients. Increased clinical awareness and collaboration could be a key step in decreasing obesity locally and nationally. 

Sponsored by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the lecture will take place in Hall F of the San Diego Convention Center. For those who are unable to attend the lecture, it also will be livestreamed and made available for on-demand viewing within an hour after the live presentation.

Watch Clinical Congress Sessions On Demand

Virtual registration is still an option for Clinical Congress 2022. An on-demand library of recorded sessions from San Diego is available until May 1, 2023.