It is not lost on anyone that obesity is a health crisis in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC,) 42 percent of Americans are obese, with weight-related illnesses being a leading cause of death. Insert the Covid-19 pandemic, and even less attention has been paid to our minds, our bodies, our poor habits and the need to address these areas.
Dr. David Buchin, the founder of Long Island Obesity Surgery (LIOS) in Huntington and director of Bariatric Surgery at Huntington Hospital, is on the front lines of the obesity battle. Under his leadership the hospital has been named a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program. Dr Buchin is the only verified MBSAQIP surgeon at Huntington Hospital.
Identifying the need for action in the Long Island area specifically, Dr. Buchin founded Long Island Obesity Surgery in 2007, performing bariatric surgery on patients who had lost hope after a series of worthless diets and wasted time and money. He is the first surgeon on Long Island to perform the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, as well as other cutting-edge procedures (such as the argon plasma coagulation of gastrojejunal anastomosis for weight regain after gastric bypass). He is also the first surgeon in the New York area to perform the OverStitch for revision weight loss surgery. The result of these surgeries is not only immediate weight loss, but a long-term solution to the yoyo dieting associated with weight gain and loss often experienced by people battling obesity.
Dr. Buchin’s commitment to surgical excellence, quality of care and patient safety has attracted the attention of front-line and essential workers such as EMS professionals, nurses, surgeons, firefighters, police officers, and teachers. One example is with the Huntington Manor Fire Department. These first responders and life-savers trusted their lives to Dr. Buchin.
The department had many firefighters and volunteer firefighters who had gained weight over the years. They had trouble losing their weight through traditional means, though they remained extremely active. One was done with struggling and visited Dr. Buchin’s office. After a single consultation, he committed to bariatric surgery and changing his life for the better.
His long-term success was so remarkable that a dozen members of the department followed his lead, and also had bariatric surgery performed by Dr. Buchin.
“The members of the department have lost a collective 2000 pounds — a ton — and their weight-related health conditions have become a thing of the past. In addition to looking great, they feel great, and they have been empowered and inspired to take back their lives,” said Dr. Buchin.
One firefighter, who at three-years-old lost his 364-lb. father to a heart attack, said, “I still feel the sense of loss from losing my father, and this helped me feel confident that I won’t do the same to my kids.”
Patients recounting the outstanding results of Dr. Buchin’s work do not stop there, but his
story, has been 40-plus years in the making, beginning with his family immigrating to the United States.
When Dr Buchin was just 2 years old his family emigrated from Tashkent, Russia to the U.S. Like so many that came before them, the Buchin family came to the “melting pot” that is New York City, to seek a better life.
Buchin’s parents were both engineers in Russia, so he developed an early fascination with how things function. As he grew older, he and his father shared a fascination with cars and anything mechanical in their home, leading a young Buchin to after-school jobs at auto shops.
“My dad and I had an inclination to tinker with everything, and as I grew up, we worked on anything and everything together. To deconstruct, reconstruct, and see what made things work,” he recalled.
Throughout the years, Dr. Buchin’s mother saw his skill and interest in these fundamentals, and encouraged him to attend medical school. Buchin agreed, and after graduating from the City University of New York, City College, he went on to New York Medical College.
“When I first started in medical school, I knew I wanted to become a surgeon. It was a really revolutionary time to be in this field, as the old-school way of surgery was rapidly evolving into the laparoscopic techniques we use today,” the doctor said. “I trained at the best time, under some of the finest doctors, Surgery Department Chair Dr. Louis Del Guercio and Professor of Surgery John Savino, and learned from them the magnificent techniques that they used during my time at New York Medical College,” he continued.
After earning his medical degree, Dr. Buchin completed his surgical residency in the North Shore-LIJ Health System, (now known as Northwell Health), then completed one of the nation’s top minimally invasive surgery and bariatric surgery fellowships, at Westchester Medical Center.
Dr. Buchin met his future wife, Helene Feinberg, in 2006 when they were working together at North Shore-LIJ. Helene was hired as the administrative manager of the surgery department, and a year later, Dr. Buchin was hired as a surgeon into her department.
But together, Helene and David shared an even bigger vision of opening an obesity surgery practice and that is just what they did in in 2010, with Huntington-based Long Island Obesity Surgery, with Helene as director. Helene and David were married in 2010 and made the Town of Huntington their home. The practice has flourished under Team Buchin.
“Each and every day I see our patients turning their lives around thanks to their successful bariatric surgeries from David,” his wife says. “He is a first-of-his-kind surgeon, whose top-of-the-line care has helped thousands realize that a healthy weight is attainable. I see it first-hand the personal stake he takes in every patient’s health and well-being, and we are all proud to be part of something larger than ourselves here at Long Island Obesity Surgery.”
Dr. Buchin insists on seeing every one of his post-op patients, no matter how long ago the surgery, whether it’s 6 months ago or 16 years ago,” said Helene. “The level of care he provides is rare.”
And patients certainly agree.
“From the minute I walked in the door I felt cared for here,” said patient Patrice L. “I immediately trusted him. “He never makes you feel rushed and will spend 45 minutes talking to you.”
The reason his care has been so lauded is because of the personal connection that continues to exist between the doctor and his patients.
“It was, and still is, an amazing experience to see how I can help people change their lives for the better,” Dr. Buchin says. “People come to me at Long Island Obesity Surgery discouraged, and often dealing with very serious weight-related health conditions. When they take back their lives, I see their progress firsthand, and feel the personal connection with them as they get a second chance at life.”
A big part of LIOS’s practice is Dr. Buchin’s ability to perform successful revisions, corrective surgeries of past bariatric procedures done by other surgeons. Many patients who come to LIOS have been turned away by other surgeons due to the complexity of their cases. But Dr. Buchin takes on those challenges and through research and his expert surgical skills, finds the best solution for each patient in his care, because he knows that each patient is unique Even patients with the most complex cases go on to successful weight loss and lead transformed lives.
“What some people do not understand is the impact that weight-related illness can have outside of the medical impact,” he says. “People that struggle with weight loss are often dealing with the inability to do the things they love, whether it’s kick a soccer ball with their child, go for walks, pick up their children, and so on. The surgeries and the care that we provide here make all that possible again, empowering our patients to be the best they can be, again, free of the concerns that they once had about weight-related illness and long-term health impacts.”
It has never been more important that people know that they have this option, says Dr. Buchin.
In 2020, Covid-19 added an entirely new element to this, as Buchin feared that people would neglect to address their weight. The unknown became a year of little exercise, gym closures, and a heightened sense of anxiety. Because of this, many people gained weight which was dubbed the “quarantine 15” or for some, the “quarantine 50.”
While some took their weight gain lightly, Dr. Buchin witnessed just how serious it had become. As a result, he announced a public awareness campaign, to shed light on losing weight. He issued a public alert, dubbed “Put Huntington on A Diet,” the home of his practice, insisting town residents get up, get active, and shake off that weight they had gained in the lockdown period.
A Harris Poll found that 42 percent of Americans said that they gained weight during the pandemic. And now, as the Covid-19 vaccines have become available to most people, it is encouraging people to refocus their attention on their weight.
“So many across the nation were so concerned about catching Covid-19, that they shied away from the other preventative health measures that a person must do to live a healthy life. We have received a skyrocketing number of people inquiring about weight loss surgery since the pandemic because people are now recognizing their substantial weight gain,” says Dr. Buchin.
Weight loss surgery is a serious medical procedure and Dr. Buchin encourages candidates to research the different options that are available to them. Procedures such as the gastric bypass, the gastric sleeve and revisions, have helped Long Island Obesity Surgery’s patients lose thousands of pounds and live the lives they deserve.
His mission, though, of helping people is far from finished. Dr. Buchin and the doctors, nurses, and staff at Long Island Obesity Surgery see their profession as a calling that will continue to change lives, one pound at a time.
Dr. Buchin resides in Lloyd Harbor with his wife and two children.