Ian S. Soriano, MD, FACS, FASMBS specializes in gastrointestinal (GI) and bariatric surgery. He sees patients at Penn Medicine Washington Square and Penn Medicine Mayfair.
Dr. Soriano has been practicing bariatric surgery in the Philadelphia area since 2008. We had the chance to sit down and chat with him about his experiences.
Q&A about bariatric surgery
Why did you choose to be a bariatric surgeon?
Dr. Soriano in 2005
I actually struggled with weight myself. I was almost two hundred pounds when I was in residency. I lost my weight through diet and exercise, but I know how hard it was and I wanted to make a difference for people who are struggling.
When I was in surgical training, bariatric surgery was relatively new. Open surgery was most common, and I saw a couple of significant issues with it; but then at the same time I started seeing advanced laparoscopic surgery and its benefits, so I sought out additional training for laparoscopic bariatric and gastrointestinal surgery, which I have been doing since 2007.
Also, over the past three years, I have applied the benefits of robotic surgery to my practice and currently offer the option of robotic sleeve and gastric bypass procedures to my patients.
What do you typically discuss with a patient during your first meeting?
When we first meet, besides asking the usual medical questions, I like finding out what their motivation is to have the surgery. It is a big motivator if they have something tangible to aim for at the end.
It is a long process; it takes anywhere from three to six months to get through the process before you can actually have the surgery, so I like to remind them why they are doing it in the first place.
What advice would you give to a person considering weight-loss surgery?
Dr. Soriano running the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon
The most important thing is not to make the decision to have the surgery until you’re fully dedicated to the process, because it’s not an easy journey. It requires a lot of hard work on the patient’s part, and we are here to guide them. The minute that they leave our office, everything is in their hands. So they need to be really dedicated to the process; everything else follows after that.
What makes bariatric surgery different from other areas of medicine?
After surgery, patients are entering a new phase of life that is a big change from where they were before. It really makes a difference in their over-all quality of life. They’re gaining back lost years of life. Many patients celebrate the day of surgery as a second birthday, similar to undergoing organ transplant surgery for some patients.
We also follow our patients for as long as possible – unlike most general surgery patients who are only seen for a couple of visits after surgery – so we really get to know them.
What else is important to know post-surgery?
The people who are successful are usually the ones who make time for follow-up. As for the patients who struggle, I wish they would come in and call more often. This happens because they are struggling with the weight loss after surgery. They feel like they’re failing and don’t want to disappoint their surgeon ;– so they don’t call and don’t follow up. The reality is it would actually benefit them so much more to call or reach out, and they should feel comfortable doing so.
What makes the Bariatric Surgery program at Penn Medicine different?
The Penn Metabolic and Bariatric Program has an amazing team of passionate and dedicated surgeons, physicians, nurses, dietitians and psychologists who are leaders in their field, as well as an excellent support staff from Penn Medicine who supports the program exceedingly well. It provides the necessary tools, both for physicians and patients to be successful. There are a lot of support groups and resources both online and off-line available for patients. Physicians are easily reachable.
With Penn Bariatrics, you get the expert care from surgeons who are the best in their field, but you don’t feel like you’re lost within a huge system because the surgeons are locally based at the hospital where you see them – giving you a cozy, personal experience. I think that’s important in bariatric surgery because patients need support and guidance.
I’ve stayed in the Philadelphia area because I love the city and I love taking care of the people here – ;feels like home.