Thursday, October 6, 2016 12:00 AM

Ten years of bariatric excellence

Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery program this spring, marking 8,925 total bariatric procedures performed. The program is the busiest bariatric program in California with high marks from regulatory agencies and organizations that track and rate medical quality. It earned Healthgrades' 5-star rating and a Bariatric Excellence Award™  five years in a row (2009/2010-2013), putting it in the top five percent of all programs nationwide. 

Medical Director Kelvin Higa says he’s most interested in celebrating the patients that have found better health by eliminating their obesity and losing a collective 670,000 lbs. over the past decade. That weight loss has resulted in the cure or significant improvement of: 
•    1,706 cases of diabetes
•    3,059 cases of high blood pressure 
•    1.707 cases of reflux
•    1,091 cases of high cholesterol
•    And 983 cases of sleep apnea


Dr. Higa and his colleague Dr. Keith Boone pioneered the laparoscopic Roux en-Y, gastric bypass, technique that most bariatric surgeons use today. Both are continuing to research the best ways to surgically treat obesity and say the last decade has been one of exciting discovery about the metabolic aspects of bariatric surgery.

Patient Miguel Garcia says having bariatric surgery in 2006 was the key to getting back a future. He lost more than 100 lbs. and eliminated his diabetes and other health problems after Dr. Higa performed a gastric bypass on him during the first year the program was established at Fresno Heart & Surgical. Miguel says before the surgery he couldn’t run and was always lagging behind everyone else. He’s kept the weight off for 10 years and now says his family and friends have trouble keeping up with him.

Erin Kennedy reported this story. Reach her at