Bariatric surgery came to me as a specialism over 20 years ago (bariatric surgery from the Greek baros = heavy, cf. also barometer).
At that point, the standard techniques were focussed on open surgery with non-adjustable gastric bands and gastric bypasses. When it came to providing consultancy and after-care, I quickly met my limits both technically and from a time point of view and wanted to give up after treating just a few patients. It was at this point that I bumped into my long-time friend and colleague PD Dr. med Fritz Horber by chance and spoke to him about it. It turned out that I not only needed him, but he was also looking for a surgeon for his patients.
This was a pioneering age and at that point, there was only one team for bariatric surgery, based in Lausanne. We offered much-needed help, which was hitherto almost completely unavailable in Switzerland, at a time when the disease had already been well-researched.
Word got around locally to start with, then throughout Switzerland thanks to the media, and soon we no longer had the occasional patient to care for but dozens. Until laparoscopy and gastric bands started to make real headway, our clinic and the one in Lausanne were the only centres in Switzerland offering this service. Two or three years later, in 1998, there were 100 surgeons in 50 Swiss hospitals implanting gastric bands.
(Source: Findings from the SMOB Swiss Study Group for Morbid Obesity)
Bariatric surgery currently makes up about 40% of my work, with around 350 surgeries per year.
“No army can stop an idea whose time has come.”
Dr. med. Jörg Zehetner
MMM, FACS, FEBS (hon.)
PD Dr. med. Rudolf Steffen
Facharzt FMH für Chirurgie
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