Prof. Dr. Ahmet Turkcapar
In fact, when I gained the right to study at Ankara University School of Medicine in 1980, I didn’t imagine at all that I would become a surgeon. During my internship at the faculty, I sought the answer to the question “with what kind of treatment approach could I be useful in the treatment of which diseases, and how should I live as a physician?”
Although my score was adequate in the medical specialization exam, I did not prefer medical specialties, which were very popular at that time; instead, I rather adopted surgery as a specialty, which enables patients to regain their health through procedures performed within a short time, which involves hand skill, and in which art and human relations are experienced intensely.
I cannot forget the joy that I felt in 1987 when I heard that I had gained the right to study at the General Surgery clinic of Ankara University School of Medicine, a deep-rooted and the first university of Turkey that employs many professors who are the doyens of the field.
After my specialization training, I remained in the specialist staff of Ankara University from 1992, and gained experience in cholecystotomy and hernia surgery, by working with my clinical teachers Prof. Dr. Nusret Aras and Prof. Dr. Mehmet Gurel on laparoscopic surgeries that were newly developing in those years.
When I was working with my dear teacher Prof. Dr. Ercument Kuterdem in those years again, the number of my studies on gastric surgeries as well as the number of my cases began to inrease. At various congresses and Medical University of South Carolina, where I attended as a visitor, I concerned myself with gastroesophageal reflux disease and its laparoscopic treatment. After 1993, the number of my laparoscopic reflux surgery cases increased rapidly, as the gastroesophageal reflux disease became known in the course of time, and also because of the references given by my gastroenterologist colleagues.
I gave lectures at many congresses on various topics, particularly on gastroenterology and general surgery, and organized anti-reflux surgery training courses intended for my colleagues. As a result, I have treated more than 4500 gastric reflux patients through laparoscopic surgery, without returning to open surgery method up until now.
During my specialization training at the university, I was interested in the developments in the treatment of morbid obesity (in the field of gastric surgery) that I saw at congresses and in publications abroad. In the past, morbid obese patients encountered very serious complications in cases of co-morbid diseases and all kinds of surgical operations (in those years, formidable processes were experienced due to infection, wound dehiscence, and lung complications in overweight patients that occurred after cholecystotomy, gastric surgery, and intestinal surgery procedures performed with open surgery through abdominal incisions).
I began to perform bariatric surgery in 1993, by performing gastric banding (colloquially known as clamping) operations laparoscopcally.
In 2003, I stopped performing gastric banding surgery although there were medical centers insisting on this procedure, and even there was a patient potential, because of the facts that the long-term results of gastric banding surgery were not good, and patients suffered from problems such as inflammation, perforation or, band slippage. My conference on ‘Why I Do Not Perform Gastric Banding Surgery’ at the National Surgery Congress in 2005 was a presentation predicting these days. The Gastric banding procedures are now completely deprecated.
In 2006, I began to perform gastric by-pass surgery at Ankara University, which has become the gold standard in the United States as a surgical procedure differing from gastric banding surgery by improving metabolic syndromes (diabetes in particular) through hormonal changes even before weight loss. As a visiting academic, I had the opportunity to do research on the techniques and complications of these surgeries at the clinics of Dr. Karl Miller (Salzburg), Dr. Raul Rosenthal (Cleveland), and Dr. Jacques Himpens (Genk).
Since 2010, the number of bariatric surgery procedures that I have performed has increased incrementally, with the sleeve gastrectomy (stomach reduction) procedure that has paved the way for bariatric surgery procedures to become widespread.
In 2012, I retired from Ankara University, by completing the 25-year academic period. In this clinic that we newly established, I planned first a team composed of experienced individuals in all disciplines, who are loyal to ethical values, and protect patient privacy.
In my surgical career, my primary objectives have been to offer my patients the safe surgical treatment options with proven benefits, less side effects, and long-term results; and to share my experiences and achievements with my colleagues. From my specialization period, I only developed my surgical treatment principles in the field of stomach diseases, without making any change in my life.
I have performed gastric surgeries laparoscopically on approximately 6,000 patients, without postoperative death or serious life-threatening complications.
Gaining the trust of my colleagues and patients has been my greatest acquisition in my long surgical career.