When Bruce Molinelli became a surgeon, he never thought the medical odyssey of a famous TV weatherman would help shape his career. Nor that he would end up on the cutting edge (pardon the pun) of new techniques to help severely obese people transform their lives.
"In 1997, when Al Roker began losing weight on television," Molinelli says he became interested in the marriage of laparoscopic surgery (his specialty) and weight-loss procedures like gastric bypass (NBC weatherman Roker's choice) and banding, which reduces the size of the stomach.
Molinelli, who was elected chief of staff by his colleagues at Greenwich Hospital, had never thought much about specializing in surgery to help seriously obese patients. The 48-year-old doctor comes from Westchester and a "typical Italian family with lots of eating" but no obesity issues. Still, he finds that working with the patients satisfies him in a way other cases didn't.
"Surgery really is the easy part," Molinelli says. "It's the postoperative care that is important." With patients coming back to his officeand meeting with nutritionists and other team membersto make sure they stay on track, he says, "that's one of the attractions. I get to know my patients better."
Besides performing other types of procedures at the hospital, where he is also director of minimally invasive surgery, bariatric surgery and general surgery, Molinelli teaches spinning classes.
But he still finds time for his familywife Liz, an OB-GYN at the hospital, and children Amanda, 17, Emily, 15, and Matthew, 11driving the kids to swimming, karate and other activities, from their Greenwich home.
Family is important to Molinelli. And not just his own. The improvement in his patients' lives after surgery means much to him. "The most rewarding part," he says, "is seeing how they get their lives back, when they say they can play with their kids again or go on a roller coaster with them when they couldn't before because they were too fat."
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