Weight-loss surgery center opens in 2009

By Brittany Abeijon

The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board voted three to one at a Jan. 15 meeting to award a certificate of need to the construction of Olympian Surgical Suites, a new weight-loss surgery center on Interstate and Boardwalk drives in Champaign. The center’s developers hope to open by the summer of 2009.

Dr. Sidney Rohrscheib, the center’s owner and weight-loss surgeon who operates Illinois Bariatric Center in Clinton, Ill., said he hopes that the free standing center will increase access and lower costs.

Two years ago, Medicare decided to begin covering Lap-Band surgeries for those with a body mass index of 35 or higher, if the surgeries are performed at facilities that earn a “Center of Excellence” designation from the American Society for Bariatric Surgery.

“Basically people in this area were going to have limited access if someone didn’t step up and build a place,” Rohrscheib said. “A lot of hospitals would have to invest millions of dollars to make this happen. You really do a better job if you have a focused team trying to deliver this service rather than a general hospital.”

The center will specialize in procedures for obese patients, primarily Lap-Band surgeries for weight loss. The center will also offer related procedures such as hernia repair and follow-up cosmetic surgeries, such as tummy tucks and chin, arm, face and breast lifts.

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“Five to 10 years ago, the standard of care was gastric bypass, a big operation with high risk and higher mortality,” Rohrscheib said. “Now you have the outpatient procedure called Lap-Band which take less than an hour, people can return to work in two to three days, and the results are the same.”

Lap-Band surgeries create a smaller stomach pouch, restricting the amount of food that can be consumed at one time. Lap-Band procedures differ from gastric bypass surgeries because they require no stomach stapling or cutting. Lap-Band procedures are also reversible and adjustable, according to the Lap-Band system Web site.

“Bypass patients are trading their morbid obesity for a set of other problems they can deal with,” Rohrscheib said. “But with Lap-Band, patients are trading their morbid obesity for the price of seeing their doctor every so often to get their band adjusted.”

The ideal candidate for weight-loss surgery is someone who has a body mass index of 35 or higher. Body mass index is a calculated ratio of a person’s weight divided by their height then squaring that number.

Currently, Carle Foundation Hospital is the main provider for weight-loss surgeries in the area.

“Many of the patients I see have been heavy all their lives, and they have never been able to get weight off or keep it off long-term,” said Kristina Adams, a dietician at Carle Foundation Hospital. “It seems that the longer they go with not being able to get that weight off, it does impair all sorts of activities with their lifestyle. The surgery really allows them to see success.”

Some of the biggest risks are blood clots and leakage around the stomach related to the actual surgery, Adams said.

“It is definitely a well thought out process for a lot of patients, they do have to go through quite a lot of medical visits, evaluations, protocol with their insurance companies,” Adams said. “It can take anywhere from six months to a year before a surgery once they start the process.”

  • There are 373 total weight-loss surgery facilities approved by Medicare
  • 7 weight-loss surgery facilities approved by Medicare are in Illinois

Source: Dr. Sidney Rohrscheib