St. Mary’s Medical Center Now Tackles Obesity with Weight-loss Surgery that can Eliminate Diabetes

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St. Mary’s Medical Center’s bariatric surgeon said most patients remain disease-free five years after weight-loss procedure.

St. Mary's Medical Center now tackles obesity with weight loss surgery

It sounds too good to be true, but 98 percent of patients with Type 2 diabetes become completely free of the disease following DS surgery

An innovative weight-loss procedure now being performed at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco is providing a valuable added benefit to people with Type 2 diabetes. The procedure is called duodenal switch surgery, or DS, and is performed by Dr. John Rabkin, the director of bariatric surgery at St. Mary’s. It has proven highly effective at eradicating Type 2 diabetes in the individuals who opt for the obesity surgery.

“It sounds too good to be true, but 98 percent of patients with Type 2 diabetes become completely free of the disease following DS surgery,” Dr. Rabkin said. “We have 92-percent excess body weight loss, and the weight regain risk is extremely low.”

He also indicated the results were “maintained out at five years.”

Dr. Rabkin is one of only a handful of surgeons nationwide performing DS, which he favors over other types of weight-loss surgery.

“It is less practiced, more involved and the most powerful solution,” said Dr. Rabkin, who has been with St. Mary’s Medical Center for 12 years.

The DS surgery reconfigures the small intestine and reduces the stomach’s capacity. This causes a patient to eat less food and absorb less calories, resulting in lasting weight loss and, in most cases, the obliteration of diabetes.

Because a patient’s blood-sugar levels return to normal following the surgical weight loss, the need for diabetes medication is eliminated. The procedure has also been found to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

All of this was wonderful news to 46-year-old Peggy Lankenau of Livermore. Tipping the scales at 350 pounds, Lankenau was taking five insulin injections a day for Type 2 diabetes and also suffered from high cholesterol, hypertension and other ailments related to her weight and health issues.

“I couldn't take a shower without having to come out and sit down for a rest,” Lankenau said.

Her frustration had grown from attempting, as she stated, “absolutely every diet on the market.” The programs never worked for her, either because she couldn’t maintain the regimen of eating the weight-loss company’s food or follow the specific diet guidelines.

Lankenau visited St. Mary’s and consulted with Dr. Rabkin. On Feb. 29, she underwent DS surgery. Soon, it had produced a victory on multiple levels.

Just two short months after having DS surgery, Lankenau had already lost 46 pounds and was on her way toward reaching her goal of losing 190 pounds. She was also free of prescription medication.

“I can’t believe the energy I have. I feel 100-percent better,” Lankenau said. “There is so much I plan on doing.”

One of these plans includes going to Disneyland with her 5-year-old daughter, Tashia.

“She has wanted to go so badly, but I just knew I couldn’t handle that amount of walking,” Lankenau said. “Now we’re going to Disneyland as our next holiday, and Tashia is thrilled.”

Lankenau was one of many Americans with diabetes, a population that has been growing at an alarming rate over the past 30 years. In fact, during that time, the Center for Disease Control estimates that the number of diabetes cases in the U.S. has tripled, with many of these being of the Type 2 variety.

According to Dr. Rabkin, the mortality rate is higher for those who do not have the surgery.

“Weight loss improves the length of life. People die from complications of diabetes in the long term.”

These complications include heart disease, amputations, blindness and kidney failure.

For more information on bariatric surgeries, go to

For more information about St. Mary’s Medical Center, call 415-668-1000, view the center on the Web at or visit 450 Stanyan St. in San Francisco.

About St. Mary’s Medical Center

St. Mary's Medical Center, a Dignity Health Member, is an accredited, not-for-profit community hospital that has been caring for the people of the San Francisco since 1857. Located across from Golden Gate Park, it is longest continually running hospital in San Francisco. St. Mary’s is home to the nation’s first digital cardiac catheterization laboratory and has pioneered spine surgery like the X-Stop procedure for the treatment of spinal stenosis.

St. Mary’s has also been designated as a 2011 Blue Distinction Center for Spine and Hip/Knee Replacement Surgery, a Certified Stroke Center by the Joint Commission and selected as a Breast Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. In 2011, St. Mary’s opened a state-of-the-art Cancer Center, offering the full-range of oncology, radiation and imaging services.

Beyond clinical care, St. Mary's is committed to furthering the healing ministry and to providing high-quality, affordable healthcare to the community it serves. For more information, please call 415-668-1000 or visit

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Dee Mostofi
St. Mary's Medical Center
(415) 574-0982
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