Blog - Surgical Associates of Grinnell


Navigating BBQ Season After Bariatric Surgery

Posted on 06/25/2018 at 10:30 AM

With the summer season comes BBQ’s and gatherings full of tasty, but not always healthy, foods. If you’ve recently undergone bariatric surgery, you know you’ve got to be aware of the food choices you make, but it can feel alienating to attend parties and grill outs when you have to avoid certain foods and beverages. You don’t have to suffer though! Here are some tips to help you stay the path so you don’t cause delays to your recovery progress.

Tip: Choose Skewers over Burgers

While it may be tempting to build your own burger, bread is one of the main foods you should avoid post-bariatric surgery. But have no fear! There are other protein-based alternatives to this BBQ classic. Instead, get creative and experiment with a variety of grilled meat and/or veggie skewers! 

Depending on your recovery timeline, you may want to stick to a meatless variety with a vegetable medley. If you are far enough along in your process, you may be able to try adding lean meats such as chicken, beef cuts, or even lamb!

Tip: Have a Healthy Snack Before You Go

This one is like the “don’t go to the grocery store hungry” rule. If you go hungry, you’re more likely to overeat and/or choose foods that could compromise your progress. Additional tip: survey the foods on the menu before you start filling up your plate, create a game plan, and stick to it! This will be much easier to focus on if you don’t have that little hangry growl disturbing your stomach.

Tip: Avoid Alcohol Completely

At any point in the recovery process your body is not prepared to handle the carbohydrates and/or sugars in most alcoholic beverages…especially beer. The alcohol will pass directly into your intestines due to your body’s inability to metabolize it. Because of this, you will feel the influence of the alcohol much sooner than you would have prior to your surgery. We recommend that you use extreme caution if you do decide to consume alcohol. Under no circumstance should you drink and drive, during your recovery, you are subject to DUI-level intoxication after just one drink.

Tip: Have Fun and Do What Is Best for You

If you don’t think the menu at the barbecue is going to fit into your weight loss goals or health and dietary restrictions, simply plan to eat around the BBQ. That way, you won’t be miserably hungry and envious of all the other BBQ-goers, and you can focus on having a lovely time with your friends and family! Your discomfort and progress is not worth the risk of a plate of food at a social event. 

Tip: You Can Still Have Dessert…

…you just must be selective as to what you decide to treat yourself with! Going back to the food-on-a-stick route, fruit kebabs are a great option. We can even suggest a yogurt-based fruit dip for an added sweetness! Click here for a recipe that will fit right in to your diet.

Hopefully, these tips will help you to enjoy BBQ season without too much stress or worry. We want you to stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy yourself! 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Posted on 05/30/2018 at 9:46 AM

When dealing with serious mental health conditions, considering all options is necessary. From psychotherapy to increasing exercise, any method that has been shown to alleviate symptoms should offer hope to any that suffer with mental disorders as there are many techniques to try. One such technique is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR for short. EDMR is a fairly new technique and many are wondering what it is and if it could help them.

What is EMDR?

EDMR is a psychotherapy that was developed to treat those affected by traumatic memories and negative thoughts. The technique was developed in 1989 by psychologist Francine Shapiro. She discovered the method by happenstance one day while walking through a park. She noticed that her own negative thoughts and emotions were reduced as she rhythmically moved her eyes side-to-side. 
Shapiro went on to conduct studies to assess whether her experience was a commonality among others with traumatic memories. Her results reflected positively on her hypothesis; that being that brief sequential reflection on traumatic memories while focusing on as external stimuli (i.e. a light moving side-to-side, hand clapping, etc.) will desensitize the reflector to that memory and offer them a chance to reprocess its effect on their life.
Word of the effectiveness of the treatment was pervasive and since Shapiro’s discovery and study of EDMR, many larger studies have been conducted with similar findings. As the technique spread, Shapiro founded the EMDR Institute to continue to assess the treatments efficacy.

Is it effective?

EMDR has not been without controversy. Critics often note the small size of the studies and some of Shapiro’s initial methods of spreading the technique. However, the EMDR Institutes sites that over 24 randomized studies empirically validate its effectiveness.
Scientific American took a look at EMDR and compared it to standard behavior and cognitive-behavior therapies as well as just talking to a supportive listener. They found that while EMDR is most likely more effective than supportive listening, behavior therapy is still the most. So, what does this mean for EMDR? It really is just another tool in the tool bag for therapists. While behavior therapy is shown to be the most effective for most people, EMDR offers hope for those that have not responded to behavior therapy. Psychotherapists can utilize EMDR to help those struggling to find a treatment.
Seeking therapy for mental health can seem like a hopeless endeavor, especially if treatments have not helped in the past. Our mental health team at Surgical Associates of Grinnell is here to help. We want you to feel like the best you and offer many methods to help those suffering. Read more about our mental health program or contact us today to see how we can help.

HPV Vaccine: Who Should Get it and When?

Posted on 04/03/2018 at 10:00 AM

Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are still generally perceived as a taboo topic by much of society. In order to spread awareness and hopefully also lift the stigma associated with STI’s, today we are covering the human papillomavirus, otherwise known as HPV—the most common STI in the United States.

What is HPV?

The human papillomaviruses are a group of over 100 different virus types and strains that infect human skin and mucus membranes. HPV is the most common STI in the U.S. with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stating that around “14 million people become newly infected each year,” and that nearly all sexually active people will get the virus at some point in their lives. The virus and its many strains can have many effects on the body including warts and even numerous cancers.

Often HPV is considered a women’s only issue, but that is not at all the case. The CDC reports that men are generally more at risk for HPV and are significantly more at risk for oral HPV: 11.5% of men age 18 to 69 compared to 3.3% of women.

In discussing HPV-associated cancers, the CDC states that cervical cancer is the most common for women, while oropharyngeal (throat) cancers are most common in men. Overall, the CDC sites that “more than 90% of anal and cervical cancers, about 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers, and more than 60% of penile cancers,” are thought to be the result of HPV.

How effective is the vaccine?

Three approved vaccines prevent varying types of the virus. The most well know is Gardasil, which prevents types 6, 11, 16, and 18. There is also Cervarix, which just prevents types 16 and 18, and Gardasil 9, which prevents 6, 11, 16, and 18 as well as 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.

As far as effectiveness goes, trials leading up to the approval of Gardasil and Cervarix found that they were nearly 100% effective, whereas the trials before the approval of Gardasil 9 found it to be closer to 97% effective.

Who should get it and when?

The CDC’s base recommendation suggests that women through the age of 26 and men through the age of 21 receive the vaccine. They go into more detailed recommendations for different sexual lifestyles and conditions toward the end of their HPV page for parents.

Should I get it?

While we recommend following the guidelines of the CDC, this vaccine is considered optional and we here at Surgical Associates of Grinnell support that this is a personal decision. We recommend consulting with your primary care provider or contacting our team to discuss the best care for you!

A Revolution in Non-Invasive Surgery: The da Vinci Surgical System

Posted on 03/07/2018 at 9:51 AM

da Vinci Surigical SystemThough the new millennia has come and passed, the complete robot takeover promised by Hollywood during the latter-half of the last century has not come to fruition (yet…); however, robots and robotic systems are becoming increasingly prominent in many industries, especially in health care.

The surgical robotics market has grown significantly since 2014 and estimates show that by 2020 it will have doubled in size to around $28.8 billion. This has led to big changes in the way doctors diagnose and the way surgeons develop procedures as these systems become more widespread in practices. One system is leading the charge.

Introducing the da Vinci Surgical System

First approved in 2000, the da Vinci Surgical System is the first robotic surgery system approved by the FDA for general laparoscopic, also known as minimally invasive, surgery. The da Vinci system has been foundational in the development and improvement of new microsurgeries. Over the last 18 years, their prevalence across the United States and the world has grown significantly; as their numbers continue to grow, surgeons continue to discover the benefits.

Okay… how does it work?

The da Vinci system consists of a control console, an imaging cart, and three or four interactive arms, depending on the model. The surgeon uses the console to control the arms to perform the microsurgery while using the advanced 3D imaging cart to see what the arms see. The arms can hold many kinds of tools including scalpels, bovies, and scissors. The versatility of the system is continually tested and as time marches on, the abilities and precision of the system will continue to offer peace of mind to both surgeons and their patients.

How do we use it?

At Surgical Associates of Grinnell, we utilize the da Vinci Surgical System to assist our bariatric surgeons in performing internal laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is a technique where surgical procedures are performed through small incisions (typically around 1 centimeter). The da Vinci system allows our surgeons to perform laparoscopic procedures utilizing the advanced 3D imaging and the finely tuned finger controls. The superior visibility of the system and the precise controls reduce surgery and recovery time allowing for much higher overall success rates.

Want to learn more about robotic surgery and its history? Head on over here!

What is a Sleeve Gastrectomy?

Posted on 02/07/2018 at 3:49 PM

During the last century, surgical weight-loss procedures have advanced significantly as the understanding of gastrointestinal systems and bariatric treatments have progressed. The leading bariatric procedure since the 1960s has been gastric bypass, but a newer, less invasive procedure is gaining traction as an equally effective method of surgery-induced weight loss.

Sleeve Gastrectomy, also known as Gastric Sleeve Surgery, has seen a boom in acceptance from insurance companies, who are typically hesitant of new procedures, since 2010. However, this surprising change in pace from insurance companies does not come as a surprise to the surgeons conducting the procedure. Originally, the procedure is a part of another insurance-covered weight-loss procedure called duodenal switch surgery. Due to the length of the surgery, surgeons would divide the surgery into two stages, the first being the reduction of the stomach and the second being the bypassing of some of the intestines a year later. Reduction of the stomach entails removing the lower curvature of the stomach, which reduces the volume to about 15% of its original size and results in a sleeve structure remaining. The effectiveness of the first stage commonly resulted in surgeons not performing the second stage, and eventually, insurance companies caught on to the first stage’s effectiveness and reduced complications and started accepting it as a full procedure.

Sleeve Gastrectomy Compared to Gastric Bypass

There are many benefits and potential side effects to weigh for both gastric bypass and gastric sleeves. If you are considering either, the best way to learn which procedure is best for you is to consult your primary care provider and a bariatric specialist. Some of the differences are compared below however.


Gastric Sleeve

Gastric Bypass

Weight Loss Method


Restriction and Malabsorption

Average Surgery Duration (in minutes)



Average Projected Weight Loss (%)



Complication Rate (%)



*Park JY, Kim YJ. Laparoscopic gastric bypass vs. sleeve gastrectomy in obese Korean patients. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2015;21(44):12612-12619. doi:10.3748/wjg.v21.i44.12612.

**Lager CJ, Esfandiari NH, Subauste AR, et al. Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass Vs. Sleeve Gastrectomy: Balancing the Risks of Surgery with the Benefits of Weight Loss. Obesity Surgery. 2017;27(1):154-161. doi:10.1007/s11695-016-2265-2.

These numbers should help give a very broad idea of the difference in results for both of these popular procedures, nonetheless, if you are looking into surgical weight loss please consult your doctor or contact our Bariatric Team for individualized, informed opinions on your bariatric health.

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