Gary Korus, MD, FACS, is a bariatric surgeon at Penn Medicine. Although he focuses in weight loss surgery, Dr. Korus also performs surgery on the upper gastrointestinal track (esophagus and stomach) for the treatment of reflux, heartburn, hernias, stomach tumors and ulcers. You can find him at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, Penn Medicine University City and Penn Medicine Bucks County.
Q&A about bariatric surgery
We recently sat down with Dr. Korus to get the inside scoop on his role as a Penn bariatric surgeon and what it’s like for patients under his care. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
Why did you choose to be a bariatric surgeon?
I had been a general surgeon in practice for almost 10 years doing general surgery and trauma. The situation that I was in was changing, and weight loss surgery was an area that was growing and attracted me for several reasons. One reason in particular is that taking care of bariatric patients is a little different from taking care of general surgery patients. It really allows us to build a relationship with patients to see how they do, to follow them long-term. It’s different than what we do in a lot of areas of general surgery. If you come into the hospital with appendicitis, we take your appendix out, make sure you’re doing well, see you once or twice, and that’s it. But with bariatric surgery, it’s a progression. We help people through the process, understand everything that’s needed and then follow up with them. And we expect the follow up to be life-long.
What would you say to people who are nervous or might be on the fence about weight loss surgery?
The toughest step is the first one, which is to recognize that what you have tried hasn’t worked and that there is a better way. While there are a lot of options out there, at least right now, bariatric surgery gives people the best opportunity to lose weight and to keep it off.
Weight loss surgery isn’t the folklore that people have heard in the past or read about online. It’s important to come to an information session to get the real information about what to expect, what’s realistic and what’s not realistic. I tell patients, “You deserve to know.” You’re making a decision that’s going to be life changing; it’s important that you have all of the information, so you’re making an educated choice. Then, coming to a support group can mean even more to you because there you have an opportunity to talk to patients who have been through the process. One of the most common things I hear from patients after surgery is:
“I wish I did it sooner.”
What’s it like for patients after weight loss surgery?
Before surgery, my patients may not have been able to walk five feet. Now, I’ll meet them on Kelly Drive when they’re out for a run in the morning with their new group. I have one patient who had the goal of doing the Broad Street Run. He told me that one year after surgery he walked it, and then the next year he ran it. Other patients have told me that the family went to Disney World, and they were able to go on the rides when last time they couldn’t. They didn’t have to ask for the seatbelt extender. On the airplane, they only had to pay for one seat.
Favorite healthy food?
Right now I’m on a Brussels sprouts kick. Just roasted. You know, little salt, little pepper, cut in half in, olive oil.
How do you exercise?
I run and bike, primarily. I’ve done five marathons, and my wife and I bike a lot. It’s become our vacation of choice to go on bike trips.
They all are – as long as I’m with my wife and kids, it doesn’t matter where we are.
Maybe it’s the cycling theme – Breaking Away.