Chatting With Dr. Ortiz: Episode #4

What’s discussed in this episode with Dr. Elias Ortiz

  • Can you tell us more about your team that works with you during surgery? (24:49)
  • Is it normal to have a lump under the incision site after surgery? (27:00)
  • What’s the drain tube for? (28:25)
  • Can you tell us about the upcoming conference in Tijuana and what role you’ll be playing in at the conference? (30:20)
  • You have a lot of dogs, what kind of dogs do you have? (33:10)


We always talk about you, but you actually have a whole team that works with you in the OR. Can you tell us a bit about them?

Dr. Ortiz: Oh, yes. I’ve had the same team since the beginning, for the last seven or eight years. Our anesthesiologist, has a lot of experience—more than twenty thousand procedures under his belt. He’s a really nice person. We also have Marie, my surgical nurse. She’s great at her job; she’s always with us. We also have my assistant, Dr. Morales, whom everybody meets inside the OR. I’m the only one who’s outside the OR seeing the people; the others, my surgical team, are always inside the OR. Outside the OR, you’ll meet Dr. Cordero, the internal care physician. He’s the one who talks to you about your EKGs, your labs, everything. We have two younger doctors as well, the post-op care physicians.

We get a lot of questions about patients’ incisions and lumps forming underneath them. Can you tell us what that is and what to do about it?

That’s more common in the incision around the belly button. All the other incisions are too small, so it’s extremely rare that you develop something under there, but the one around the belly button is the biggest one. It’s a little bit less than one inch. Sometimes a pack of fluid called a seroma develops under the skin. You might feel a bump there that hurts; if you squeeze it and liquid comes out, that’s serum from the fatty tissue. Nothing to worry about. There’s also scar tissue that’s produced immediately after the surgery, so you can feel the bump there. Of course, you can have some issues—for example, a hernia. You’d feel a bump, but it’s extremely rare. If you develop a hernia, you’re going to have more pain, but that’s more in the long run. It’s rare that a hernia occurs in the beginning. Most of the time, the bump is only scar tissue.

What is the purpose of a drain tube?

Some doctors in the U.S. say they don’t need drains. I always leave a drain, 100% of the time, and it’s taken out twenty-four hours after the surgery. The drain is like our eyes inside of you, because if something happens, we see it immediately in the drain. If you leak, for example—which is extremely rare—we’ll see the drainage through the drain. If you bleed, we’ll see it in the drain immediately—plus, the drain sucks out the blood, which irritates the intestines. If there’s no drain, that blood is going to stay in the abdomen and cause more pain. And if we don’t leave a drain, we’re not going to know what’s going on inside of you. We’d have to give you CAT scans and send you to do studies that take up a lot of time and sometimes don’t even help us diagnose you. I know the drain can cause pressure and is uncomfortable, but it’s a good thing.

Exactly. Now, you have a conference coming up in Tijuana. Can you tell us what that is and what role you’re going to be playing in the conference?\

Last year in Tijuana we developed a college for the weight loss surgeries of Baja California, including Tijuana. We didn’t have a college because we weren’t united; this is the first year we have a Baja California included in the Tijuana College of Bariatric Surgeons. I’m lucky enough to be part of the first board of that college, working as the speaker of the board. We’re going to have the first international congress developed from this college. We have nine world-renowned surgeons coming here to Tijuana November 21–23 for the first conference. We’re going to have folks from Canada, Brazil, Spain, France, America, Italy—all over the world. And we plan on performing live surgeries; Christine, our coordinator, is going to be one of the patients.

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