We recently welcomed our Jefferson Health Instagram followers to submit questions to Austin Chiang, MD, MPH, the Director of the Endoscopic Bariatric Program at Jefferson! It was a learning opportunity for those who were not familiar with Dr. Chiang or endobariatrics in general, and we received questions on topics such as Dr. Chiang’s role at Jefferson, how endoscopic procedures work, and how they differ from surgery.
Q: What do you do at Jefferson?
A: One of my responsibilities at Jefferson is leading the endoscopic bariatric program, and I work closely with our bariatric surgeons, obesity medicine doctors, and dietitians to provide a personalized, comprehensive treatment plan for patients looking to lose weight. I also perform complex endoscopic procedures, often treating bile duct and pancreatic disease.
Q: Why did you choose to be a gastroenterologist?
A: I enjoy the variety that comes with treating various conditions affecting many different organs including the pancreas, biliary system, liver, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon. As a result, I also get to collaborate with a variety of other doctors including surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, infectious disease doctors, oncologists, and more. Exciting areas within the field such as bariatric endoscopy are rapidly changing with the development of new devices that are changing the landscape of weight management.
Q: What are bariatric procedures?
A: Bariatric procedures are procedures to help patients lose weight and improve metabolic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea. These procedures are sometimes done through the mouth (endoscopic) or through the skin (surgery).
Q: How do endoscopic weight loss procedures work?
A: Some procedures such as the intragastric balloon work by occupying space in the stomach, promoting a feeling of fullness, and slowing stomach emptying. The endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty restricts the size of the stomach, and potentially may also alter some gut hormones that regulate hunger and fullness.
Q: How is this different from surgery?
A: Surgery is done through the skin, while endoscopic procedures are done using a camera inserted through the mouth. While surgery is highly effective for weight loss and treatment of diabetes, it can sometimes carry a high risk of complications.
Q: Can I forget about diet and exercise as long as I get a procedure?
A: Diet and exercise are crucial to every patients’ treatment plan and are what helps maintain weight loss after a procedure! Therefore, we help arrange regular follow-up with our dietitians and encourage engagement in physical activity for optimal results!
Q: Are there bariatric options for someone who has less than 100lbs to lose?
A: Yes! A doctor can calculate your body mass index to assess if you qualify for certain bariatric procedures and estimate how much you might be able to lose depending on which procedure you choose to have.
Q: How long would it take for me to lose weight if I received a bariatric procedure?
A: While it depends on the procedure, for the intragastric balloon, for instance, weight loss is most rapid in the first few months. This procedure mainly helps kick start the weight loss process and must be used in conjunction with diet and lifestyle modifications!
If you or a loved one want information or to see if you’re a candidate for bariatric surgery or an endoscopic bariatric treatment, visit our Comprehensive Weight Management Center. Our team of professionals – including physicians, nurses, and dietitians – work together to ensure that you receive a personalized plan and the safest approach to successful weight loss.