Dr. Howard Melton, general surgeon at Colquitt Regional Medical Center, has practiced in Moultrie, Georgia, since 1996. During his tenure as a general surgeon, he has had the opportunity to perform a diverse portfolio of procedures.
“General surgery includes anything from straightforward hernias or removal of the gallbladder to appendicitis and endoscopies all the way up to breast cancers, colon cancers, vascular procedures, and various bariatric procedures,” Melton said. “We have now done over 500 stapled bariatric procedures through our bariatric center.”
In addition to working on the surgical team at Colquitt Regional, Melton also serves as the medical director at Sterling Center Bariatrics, where he says that they can perform almost all bariatric procedures offered. The staff at the Sterling Center, where Sterling Bariatrics is housed, make up a comprehensive team of not only physicians, but other crucial medical staff.
“In addition to the physicians, we have nurses, medical office assistants, nurse practitioners, and a wide range of support staff to help with patients when they first come in the office as well as helping them get through a particular program such as bariatrics, which can be very complex and require a lot of support staff to work through the process or to handle all of their insurance issues,” Melton said.
According to Melton, their bariatric service line is among their most popular and sought after procedures offered at the Sterling Center. He said that patients have found the most success with sleeve gastrectomies and gastric bypass. They also offer a couple of endoscopic procedures, including an intragastric balloon.
“This takes up space in the stomach and helps with portion control as well as delayed gastric emptying,” he said. “Patients can expect to lose anywhere between 20 to 50 pounds, depending on how well they stick to the low-carbohydrate food plan. Another procedure is the endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty. In this procedure, we suture the stomach to decrease the size, all done endoscopically. It is similar to a sleeve gastrectomy, but nothing is removed, and there are no incisions. This is for patients who need to lose a little less weight than standard for a sleeve gastrectomy, someone with a BMI in the range of 30-40. I think this shows that we offer a wide range of bariatric procedures that can be tailored for individual patient needs.”
Because there is a variety of procedures patients can choose from, Melton stressed the importance of patient education, as well as discussing the procedure that would suite the patient best medically.
“We use accepted national guidelines and then a thorough understanding of the patient’s ongoing medical issues to help make the best recommendation to the patient so that the procedure they get, if appropriate, is the procedure that gives them the best opportunity for long-term success,” Melton said. “We have a fully trained staff who help the patients make initial decisions to start them down one road or the other so that they get a procedure that is more tailored to them, their medical conditions, and their long-term goals.”
One of the reasons Melton is able to provide such great insight for his patients is because he was recently a patient himself. Melton had the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy performed last May by one of his fellow surgeons at the Sterling Center.
“I have now lost over 70 pounds, and I can tell you losing that amount of weight makes you feel so much better,” he said. “I encourage it for all of our patients, and we work hard to help them through the process and get them the procedure that is going to help control their weight for the rest of their lives.”
For those interested in learning more about the procedures offered at Sterling Center Bariatrics, Melton suggests for potential patients to go online first and learn as much as they can about their services as well as researching a healthy food plan in general. Those can be the important first steps in the journey to having a healthy lifestyle.
Colquitt Regional’s bariatric surgical center is accredited as a Comprehensive Center under the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP®), a joint program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).