Thursday, October 27, 2011 12:00 AM

Community leads state in weight-loss surgeries

More and more Californians are opting for bariatric surgery to lose weight and take care of their health problems associated with obesity. And more of these patients are turning to two of Community Medical Centers’ hospitals, according to a state report released Oct. 26.

Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital leads the state in the number of weight-loss surgeries performed with 878 in 2009, reports the “Trends in Bariatric Surgery in California Hospitals, 2005-2009.” The report by the Office of Statewide Health Planning also showed that Clovis Community Medical Center performed 392 that year, tenth among the 94 hospitals statewide that performed bariatric procedures.

Hospital officials say the Valley’s high obesity rates alone do not explain the numbers. Patients come from far outside the area because of the reputation of the hospitals. Both have passed rigorous reviews and are accredited as centers of excellence by surgical boards. And Fresno Heart & Surgical has been 5-star rated by HealthGrades® for the past three years for bariatric surgery.

Recently surgeons flew in from all over the country and from overseas to a conference at Fresno Heart & Surgical about bariatric revision surgery. Both Dr. Kelvin Higa, medical director of the hospital’s metabolic and bariatric surgery program, and Dr. Daniel Swartz, a Clovis Community bariatric surgeon, lectured at the conference.

The state report found:

  • A four-fold increase in the number of laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgeries, also known as lap bands, performed from 2005 to 2009.
  • A six-fold decrease in open (not minimally-invasive) procedures.
  • A fourteen-fold increase in the number of Vertical Sleeve procedures performed, where the stomach is decreased but intestines are untouched.
  • Laparoscopic or minimally-invasive gastric bypass surgery remains the most common type of surgery, comprising 73% of all bariatric surgeries performed in hospitals.


Erin Kennedy reported this story. She can be reached at