MEET THE DIPLOMATE

lauren donnangelo, md

 

Dr. Lauren Donnangelo is triple board certified in Obesity Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Internal Medicine, and certified in Endoscopic Suturing through the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) STAR Program. She completed her training through the University of Florida, Duke, Mount Sinai, and Columbia/Cornell. As one of the country’s first dedicated metabolic and bariatric endoscopists, Dr. Donnangelo is passionate about providing state-of-the-art, compassionate, and life-changing care to patients with obesity and obesity-related medical conditions. She is also dedicated to advancing the field of metabolic and bariatric endoscopy through research, innovation, and education. Dr. Donnangelo performs endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG), transoral outlet reduction of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (TORe), vertical sleeve gastrectomy revision (VSGR), intragastric balloons (Orbera and Spatz3), and prescribes obesity pharmacotherapy in conjunction with a team of specialized registered dieticians and health coaches at True You Weight Loss in Atlanta, Georgia.     

Why did you pursue obesity medicine certification? My pursuit of the obesity medicine certification was driven by a desire to better help my patients. As an internist and gastroenterologist, many of the medical conditions that I diagnosed and treated were obesity-related, yet I felt inadequately equipped to provide expert counseling and treatment for obesity itself as a disease. The foundational knowledge that I gained through certification has proven invaluable in bettering my patients’ outcomes, health, and happiness — which has been immensely rewarding.    

Many doctors have told us about the “aha” moment that stimulated their interest in obesity medicine. Do you have an obesity medicine “aha” moment that sticks out in your memory? In hepatology clinic, I evaluated a patient with worsening metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis, for which the cornerstone of treatment is weight loss. Listening to this patient recount the challenges she faced in managing her disease was eye-opening, and I wished that I was better equipped to help. My desire to better help my patients led me to pursue additional training in obesity medicine. This, in combination with my interest in advanced endoscopic procedures, formed the basis of my career in metabolic and bariatric endoscopy.

How do you currently incorporate your obesity medicine training into your practice? My obesity medicine training has been the foundation of my daily practice. As a metabolic and bariatric endoscopist, most of my time is spent performing primary endoscopic obesity therapies such as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) and intragastric balloons, as well as revisional endoscopic therapies for patients who experience recurrence of weight after vertical sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass surgery. I also evaluate and treat patients who elect to pursue obesity pharmacotherapy in conjunction with a team of specialized registered dieticians and health coaches. I am involved in education, research, and innovation in the field of obesity medicine and metabolic and bariatric endoscopy.     

Why do you believe obesity medicine certification is valuable? In order to become a true expert in metabolic and bariatric endoscopy, it is critical to have foundational knowledge in obesity as a disease. I always aim to treat patients holistically — not only through procedural therapies, but also through medical and lifestyle/behavioral management and interdisciplinary collaboration with my medical and surgical colleagues. The importance of acquiring a well-rounded education in obesity medicine cannot be understated. 

What is your greatest success story so far? It is incredibly gratifying to watch my patients succeed and live happier, healthier, and more vibrant lives. It is particularly rewarding to hear that my patients have been able to discontinue medications for obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia as their overall health improves with weight loss.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your practice? The field of metabolic and bariatric endoscopy is still in its infancy and not widely known to providers and patients. Endobariatric therapies are some of the most effective non-surgical treatments for obesity available today. For example, patients can achieve an average of 21% total body weight loss with endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) and maintain this weight loss long-term. Excellent results can also be achieved with endoscopic surgical revision procedures in the growing population of patients experiencing weight recurrence after vertical sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass surgery. In combination with pharmacotherapy and newer endoscopic metabolic therapies on the horizon, this field has the potential to change the landscape of obesity treatment.

What do you wish other physicians knew about treating obesity? I wish other physicians knew more about the field of metabolic and bariatric endoscopy. For patients who are interested in safe, effective, nonsurgical weight loss procedures, there are great options available.  


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