John Pilcher, MD, FACS, FASMBS
“The thing I love the most about my job is the chance to help people stop suffering from weight and begin living the life they are supposed to lead.”
Dr. Pilcher performs 5 to 15 bariatric surgical procedures each week, and bariatric surgery is his entire professional focus. He has personally done more than 2,500 bariatric surgical procedures, and has assisted in many more.
Dr. Pilcher began his training at the University of Virginia, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry in 1986, his MD degree in 1990, and finished surgical residency in 1995. He earned his Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery in 1996. He financed medical school by means of an Air Force scholarship, and upon completion of his surgical residency, he was selected to serve his Air Force duty at Wilford Hall Medical Center, the Air Force’s worldwide referral and medical training center here in San Antonio, TX.
Upon his arrival at Wilford Hall, Dr. Pilcher was asked to take over leadership of the bariatric surgery program. There he performed approximately 120 gastric bypass procedures. “My time at Wilford Hall (and these 120 patients) showed me how incredibly rewarding it is to help someone get their life back by freeing them of massive excess weight,” says Dr. Pilcher.
After completing his military duty in 1999, Dr. Pilcher had the opportunity to partner with Dr. Paul Selinkoff as part of the San Antonio practice that would become New Dimensions. Dr. Pilcher was the first surgeon in South Texas to perform the gastric bypass procedure laparoscopically, in early 2000.
In 2003, Dr. Pilcher was proud to be one of 12 national investigators for the FDA research project that established the safety and effectiveness of the REALIZE Gastric Band for patients in the U.S., and he is also a research surgeon for several “next generation” bariatric surgery projects. Dr. Pilcher is a resource for bariatric surgeons nationwide, as well as a national proctor who teaches the procedure to leading surgeons across the Southwest.
In addition to his surgical and teaching work, Dr. Pilcher is passionate about working for better patient access to the full spectrum of treatment for obesity. “Currently, this mostly means working with insurance companies, major employers and government entities to reduce financial barriers that keep appropriate people away from the option of surgery,” says Dr. Pilcher. “I believe there is a lot to do in the fight against obesity prejudice as well.”
Dr. Pilcher foresees that the battle against obesity will be a dominating factor in medical care for at least the next 20 years. He is energized to help improve systems of integrated full spectrum care for all stages of obesity. This means integrating non-surgical therapy with surgery, as well as continuing research to understand the causes of obesity and how it may be prevented.