Interview with Ara Keshishian, MD, FACS
(general and bariatric surgeon in Los Angeles area)
Dr. Ara Keshishian is a general and bariatric surgeon in Los Angeles with unparalleled patients’ satisfaction rating which is what brought me – the editor of Los Angeles Health Directory – to his office for an interview.
As it often is the case when it comes to interviews with busy physicians, I’ve had to wait for a few minutes in Doctor Ara Keshishian’s waiting room. It took me a while before I realized that all the chairs in the waiting room had uniform appearance but vastly different sizes. As I was about to ponder over this “discovery” of mine, Los Angeles Bariatric Surgeon, Doctor Keshishian became available ……
Editor: Please tell us about your work Doctor Keshishian.
Doctor Ara Keshishian: I’m a general surgeon who’s trained in weight loss surgery. My surgical career started in Detroit as a surgical resident. In Detroit, I trained doing a lot of primary weight loss surgical procedures such as the duodenal switch operation but also a number of revisions of gastric bypasses and other surgical procedures that had ill effects, complications, failure, and so forth and revising to duodenal switch.
Editor: So from the beginning you’ve chosen to specialize in corrective procedures, basically revising bariatric surgeries gone wrong?
Doctor Ara Keshishian: Yes, that has actually carried over to my practice right now where I’d say between a third to half of my practice’s patients today request revisional weight loss surgery. Revising gastric bypass and gastric banding that have gone array with complications both mechanical such as obstructions, ulcers, and so on to metabolic problems which we revise with duodenal switch operations which in my opinion have a much safer profile for patients.
Editor: What procedures do you recommend for patients who are morbidly obese?
Doctor Ara Keshishian: That’s the million dollar question, depending on whom you ask there are different answers. What I’ll recommend first and foremost is for the patient to be his or her best advocate. I think patients need to ask many questions and run away from any surgeon who says “trust me, I know what’s good for you.”
Patients are best advocates for their own health and no one else. I think patients should seek surgeons who give them a range of options, who talk to them about all available surgical procedures and then outline why a particular procedure is better or worse than other ones.
With that said, and knowing that my training had a fair amount of influence on my practice, I do believe that duodenal switch operation is by far the best option. I have offered adjustable gastric banding, be it the Lap Band or the Realize Band, to a very selected group of patients. (Most people are influenced by the billboards and TV ads they see about Lap Band but when you read the fine print in the material that’s put out by the manufacturer of the Lap Band the average result is far, far less than what you see posted on billboards or TV ads. Most patients are surprised when you show them these data so that’s why I believe that the patient ought to be the advocate for his or her own health. Don’t just take something that’s been given to you at face value, question the validity of the information given to you, do your own research, and then make your decision.)
Editor: May I ask why you have chosen to become L.A. Bariatric Surgeon, Doctor?
Doctor Ara Keshishian: It’s fun: I love what I do! As a surgeon, I don’t know of any other field where I could have that much impact on a patient’s life. I also don’t know of any other field of surgery where the patient is looking forward to being operated on.
As I mentioned, I’ve trained in Detroit where in our surgical training trauma was rampant, so all we experienced was the high adrenaline, rush, excitement, trauma. The excitement runs high for about two weeks and then it gets old after a while and unfortunately, trauma surgery is a lot of operations and not really helping that many people long term. That’s unfortunately the reality of our inner city surgical environment.
With weight loss surgery I get to know the patients personally, I get to know their needs and offer them a surgery that really changes their lives. It gives them the opportunity to live happy, productive lives. It cures their illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. The majority of the patients is female, females who have problems with child-bearing and so forth and after the operation they are able to move forward, form families and lead happy, productive lives. So it’s fun.
Editor: This probably answers my question about your greatest professional satisfaction as L.A. Bariatric Surgeon?
Doctor Ara Keshishian: Yes, it’s fun. I love what I do. It’s very generic and cliché to say that you actually like helping someone but you know I actually look forward every morning to going into the operating room.
Editor: Final question, if I may: would you like to convey a personal message to the readers of Los Angeles Health Directory and prospective bariatric surgery patients?
Doctor Ara Keshishian: Educate yourself. Educate yourself. Educate yourself. A patient should not go into the operating room, wake up after the surgery and then ask questions. That’s too late already. Unfortunately, I have a skewed view of this because more often than not I see a patient coming to my office for revisions of gastric bypass or Lap Band to the duodenal switch operation who says: “I have never heard of this operation before.” And for me it’s not right that a patient has had an operation without being fully informed of what they’re having done or what other options are available to them.
Editor: On behalf of Los Angeles Health Directory, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me.
As I was passing through the waiting room on my way out after the interview with Los Angeles Bariatric Surgeon, the identical chairs of unequal size took on a different meaning. I realized that they are a metaphor for Dr. Keshishian’s perception of his patients whom he sees – regardless of their weight – as equally entitled to lead fulfilling lives. Dr. Ara Keshishian: Los Angeles Bariatric Surgeon, professional, warm and caring.
Ara Keshishian, MD, FACS
(general and bariatric surgeon in Los Angeles area)
Central Valley Bariatrics
1808 Verdugo Blvd., Suite 413
Glendale, CA 91208
Phone (818) 812-7222