Marlton, N.J.—A Virtua physician has earned an uncommon designation from a prestigious medical organization. Gaurav Sharma, MD, is one of only six N.J. surgeons—and among just 117 in the United States and Canada—to be named a diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM).
Dr. Sharma, a general and bariatric (weight-loss) surgeon based in Moorestown, engaged in months of in-depth study and passed a rigorous exam in order to earn the ABOM credential.
“As a bariatric surgeon, I have expertise in surgical aspects of obesity,” said Dr. Sharma. “But preparing for this additional accreditation gave me broader knowledge of the obesity problem, its causes, and how to address it.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40% of U.S. adults cope with the disease of obesity, which is associated with a higher risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and other health problems. However, physicians often have little or no training in weight management and nutrition.
ABOM certification is helping to change that, by providing physicians like Dr. Sharma with “tools, resources, and knowledge to enhance their skills and help their community address the obesity epidemic,” said Dr. Rekha Kumar, medical director for ABOM.
“Dr. Sharma is an ideal example of Virtua’s approach to care, which focuses on the whole person rather than just their diagnosis or symptoms,” noted Dr. John Matsinger, Virtua’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “He consistently receives outstanding online patient reviews that reference his comprehensive, holistic approach in helping people achieve their health goals.”
A complex condition
Successful weight loss requires a multi-faceted approach, which Dr. Sharma can provide.
“It’s not just a matter of having surgery,” he explained. “People may need lifestyle changes, medication, behavioral support, or other assistance. Now I can address the full range of my patients’ needs to help them achieve and maintain their weight loss and live healthier lives.”
In fact, obesity is a chronic disease, meaning that it requires ongoing medical attention, Dr. Sharma noted.
“In many cases, obesity is not simply a matter of overeating or not exercising enough,” he said. “Obesity can involve genetic factors, biochemical changes in the body, and psychological issues.”
Sleep patterns and certain medications can also play a role.
“The reasons for obesity are complex,” Dr. Sharma noted. “My ABOM designation signifies that I understand this complicated disease and know how to provide comprehensive obesity care—including prescribing obesity medication, and providing long-term follow-up care.”
In addition, bariatric surgery has advanced significantly over the past decade, enabling faster recoveries and less down time for patients.
“With today’s less-invasive techniques, we use several small incisions instead of one large incision,” the physician explained. “Most people only need to take a week off from work, and they only need pain medication for the first day or two.”
Dr. Sharma also has the distinction of being fellowship-trained in minimally invasive bariatric surgery, which means he has the highest level of training available in these types of procedures.
To learn more about Dr. Sharma and Virtua’s bariatric program, or to schedule an appointment, visit www.virtua.org/bariatric or call 1-888-VIRTUA-3 (1-888-847-8823)
About Virtua Health
Virtua Health is South Jersey’s largest health system, committed to the mission of helping people be well, get well, and stay well and averaging more than one million patient encounters each year. Virtua’s 13,000-plus employees provide comprehensive care at five hospitals and more than 280 other locations, in addition to bringing health services directly into communities through home health, rehabilitation, mobile screenings, and its paramedic program. Virtua has 2,850 affiliated doctors and other clinicians, and its specialties include cardiology, orthopedics, advanced surgery, and maternity. Virtua is affiliated with Penn Medicine for cancer and neuroscience, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for pediatrics. As a not-for-profit, Virtua is committed to the well-being of the community and provides innovative outreach programs that address social challenges affecting health, from addiction and other behavioral issues to lack of nutritious food and stable housing. A Magnet-recognized health system ranked by U.S. News and World Report, Virtua has received many awards for quality, safety, and its outstanding work environment. For more information, visit ThisIsVirtua.org. To help Virtua Health make a difference, visit foundation.virtua.org.