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‘Returning to surgery’ – the views of bariatric and metabolic experts

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 13:52
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As bariatric and metabolic surgery restarts across the world, Bariatric News spoke to Shaw Somers about how the bariatric community can safely resume surgery... 

1. Although the pandemic has sadly resulted in the loss of many people, the risk of dying from the virus is low for most people (some 80% are asymptomatic). What can be done to reassure patients thinking about bariatric surgery but who are also worried about possibly acquiring the virus in hospital or shortly after their procedure?

Shaw Somers
Shaw Somers

There is no evidence that patients undergoing planned routine bariatric surgery are a especial risk if they contract COVID-19 post-operatively. Evidence emerging from centres with experience of this say that patients generally recover as they would if they had not had Bariatric Surgery. There is no evidence to suggest we should not be doing bariatric surgery for fear of post-op COVID-19 infection.

2. Do you believe there are any benefits (ie. reduced OR time, recovery) in the COVID era between these laparoscopic and endoscopic procedures or ultimately do you think it comes down to the patient – with the help of the surgeon – making an informed decision?

Patients should continue to have the procedure to which they are best suited. This is down to patient characteristics and requirements.

3. How do we strike a balance between the recommendation that laparoscopic procedures should be carried out by senior, trained laparoscopic surgeons and enabling less experienced laparoscopic surgeons to gain much needed experience in the COVID era?

There is no imperative for senior surgeons to be undertaking these procedures. This was a suggestion at the outset of the pandemic, which is no longer required. All patients are screened and isolated before surgery, so there is no reason to wear full PPE for surgery.

The 'Return to work' survey and interviews with bariatric and metabolic specialists were carried out in partnership with Medtronic Inc.