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Healthcare

Meet the Dallas Bariatric Surgeon Featured on TLC’s Newest Medical Reality Show

Dr. Charlotte Hodges is one of the main characters in "Botched Bariatrics."
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Dr. Charlotte Hodges founded New You Bariatric Center in Dallas and is featured in TLC's "Botched Bariatrics." Courtesy: TLC

A significant portion of Dr. Charlotte Hodges’ practice is fixing bariatric surgeries gone wrong. So when she received a random email from a TLC producer about a show meant to feature female surgeons as a reboot of the hit “My 600-lb Life,” she offered another idea: focusing on the revision of botched bariatric surgeries, which is nearly half her practice.

Bariatric operations, where surgeons make changes to the digestive system intended to help obese individuals lose weight, surged between 2012 and 2018 from 59.2 to 79.6. surgeries per 100,000 adults, an increase of over 34 percent. In recent years, bariatric surgery frequency has taken a significant hit because of the effectiveness of weight loss medications. However, they are still quite common, and around 500,000 weight loss surgeries are performed yearly in the U.S.

Hodges, who founded New You Bariatric Center in Dallas, received the email from TLC in 2018, near the peak of popularity for bariatric surgery, but when the producer found out that about 40 percent of Hodges’ practice was revising previous bariatric surgeries, they saw an option for a new angle. The discussions turned into “Botched Bariatrics,” which premiered on TLC this month and follows several bariatric surgery patients’ journey before and after bariatric revision surgery. Two of Hodges’ patients are featured in the three-episode pilot. A release says the program features “patients whose lives have been turned upside down after suffering complications from their bariatric surgery. These patients are in dire need of help, ranging from a woman who can only eat pureed food to a man living with explosive bowels.”

A combination of unrealistic expectations for weight loss and improving technology have led many patients to Hodges’ office to receive a revision to their bariatric surgery. Other times, the band or sleeve inserted into the abdomen has run its course, similar to a knee replacement or transplanted organ. “We weren’t supposed to have a plastic thing in our body,” Hodges says. “Even if the sleeve is done perfectly, our anatomy will mean we need to revise old sleeves.”

Hodges doesn’t want her patients to come off as victims or people who made poor choices, which can be the stigma surrounding bariatric patients. Bariatric patients can often be seen as though their moral failure led them to this point. One survey found that 87 percent of bariatric surgery patients heard negative comments about their choice, hearing that they took the easy way out or that they should just exercise more and eat less. Bariatric patients are often considered lazy or mentally weak. While lifestyle choices will always be a significant factor in reducing obesity, research has found that similar choices can yield disparate outcomes depending on factors outside one’s control.

Hodges says that the stigma toward bariatric patients has resulted in a significant discrepancy between the potential patient population and those who received the surgery. “What are they dealing with is not always the patient’s fault,” Hodges says. “We want to change the perspective about what the public knows.”

The pandemic delayed filming after Hodges’ discussions with TLC, but the show was filmed at the end of 2021. The team worked to find compelling stories and follow the patients through the nutritional counseling, psych evaluations, stress testing, and sleep studies that take place prior to surgery. Cameras followed Hodges and others into the operating room and chronicled patients’ recovery. 

This was Hodges’ and her patients’ first experience with television, and she admits that things begin somewhat stilted on camera, but they both loosened up before long. Without spoiling any details, Hodges says she found the unexpected when she began the bariatric revision of one of the patients on the show. “What I ended up encountering I was not expecting at all,” she says. “For the show, it was a good thing, and for the patient, it was good that we found it.”

Hodges’ patient Shawn’s story premiered on May 15, and her patient Simone will be featured on May 22 at 9 pm on TLC. All episodes can be streamed on several platforms; the preview can be found here. Hodges hopes the show gets picked up for more episodes but says it is more important for her to erase some of the stigma around and judgment toward bariatric patients. “The one thing I want to get out of this is changing perspectives on obese patients and view of bariatric surgery.”

Author

Will Maddox

Will Maddox

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Will is the senior writer for D CEO magazine and the editor of D CEO Healthcare. He's written about healthcare…
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