The Cooper Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery: Lifelong Multidisciplinary Care for People with Obesity

“Obesity is a complex chronic disease, and it’s unlikely to be fixed in one session,” says Rohit A. Patel, MD, FACS, Director of Cooper’s Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. “That’s why a team approach like ours is more likely to be successful.”

This team includes three fellowship-trained and experienced bariatric surgeons—Dr. Patel, Brendan G. O’Connell, MD, FACS, and Harish Kakkilaya, MD, FACS, FASMBS—as well as advanced practice nurses, dietitians, a behavioral psychologist, patient coordinators, and administrative support staff.

Notably, the Cooper Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery is the only facility of its kind in South Jersey that is part of a tertiary care center. Obesity puts patients at risk for multiple comorbid conditions—including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, kidney issues, and certain cancers—and at Cooper, patients have streamlined access to advanced expertise in more than 75 specialties, should it be needed.

Cooper’s Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery is also distinguished by its commitment to lifelong care for patients who choose to undergo a weight loss procedure.

“Patient safety and after care are essential components of our program,” Dr. Patel says. He continues, “We don’t just take care of patients around the time of surgery, but we’re committed to their wellbeing for the rest of their lives. We realize that bariatric surgery is just a first step in a patient’s weight loss journey.”

The Cooper team is also committed to helping providers to guide their patients to take that first step, when appropriate.

“Providers don’t have to feel alone in counseling their patients with obesity,” he says. (See below for some tips on broaching the topic of weight with patients.)

Drs. Patel, O’Connell, and Kakkilaya offer Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and vertical sleeve gastrectomy, the two most common bariatric surgery procedures performed today.

“Both can be done minimally invasively most of the time,” Dr. Patel notes.

As a high-volume bariatric surgery center, Cooper performs between 400 and 500 procedures a year—both routine and complex. This level of experience leads to outcomes that consistently exceed national benchmarks, and Cooper’s program is recognized as a center of excellence.

The Center is accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), signifying that it has met rigorous national standards for safe, high-quality surgical care that were jointly established by the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Notably, the Center has received “Comprehensive Accreditation with Adolescent Qualifications,” which means that it is designated to care for patients of all ages, at all levels of obesity, and with all comorbid conditions.

“If you have a patient with a BMI of 35 with related comorbidities or with a BMI of 40 or greater, that patient is a candidate for bariatric surgery,” Dr. Patel says. “We’d welcome the opportunity to partner with you to improve that patient’s health.”

Tips for Discussing Weight with Patients

Dr. Patel offers this guidance for broaching the topic of weight:

  • Let patients talk first about the health issue that prompted their visit (if it’s not specifically their weight).
  • Ask open-ended questions to get them to talk about their general health, including weight.
  • Aim to be neutral/nonjudgmental rather than labeling them by their condition.
  • Describe obesity as a disease; a patient “has obesity” vs. “is obese.”
  • Assess their willingness to make lifestyle/behavioral changes.
  • If they are an appropriate candidate, suggest that they attend one of our free, no-obligation monthly informational seminars to learn more about bariatric surgery.

“If we’re not talking about weight with patients, we send a message to them that says, ‘If my doctor doesn’t think it’s important, why should I?’” Dr. Patel says. “We need to communicate that it is important and that they have options.”

For a physician-to-physician referral to metabolic and bariatric surgery at Cooper, please email Dr. Patel directly at

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