Experience & Expediency

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Dr. Bob Saggi, a general surgeon with Valley Care Clinics, recognizes just how difficult it can be for a patient to be told they have a problem that must be addressed surgically — only to have to wait.

That’s why it’s important to him to offer a rapid turnaround time — efficient, effective care that helps set patients at ease.

“I hear of patients waiting weeks experiencing extensive delays to see a surgeon,” he said. “The expectation in our practice is to get patients in to our clinic within two weeks of the referral. We then have a goal of getting them to surgery — if surgery is indicated — within two weeks of a clinic visit. I think the expediency of care is important.”

That patient-centric philosophy is a cornerstone of Saggi’s practice, and that same focus of expediency extends to how he handles common surgeries. Patients want to be back on their feet with as little fuss as possible.

“Most of what we do as general surgeons is gallbladder disease, hernia disease,” he said. “The majority of that can be done with very small incisions. In the case of gallbladder surgery, a single incision, and this is possible because of the robotic technology we have in our hospital system.”

Thirty years ago, this wasn’t the case. The technology didn’t exist.

“The traditional way of doing surgery was big, open incisions,” Saggi remembered. “Then came along laparoscopy. Now, robotics is the next level of minimally invasive surgery. It allows me to do things inside a patient through small incisions that I just can’t do as easy with traditional laparoscopy.”

He compared laparoscopic instruments to chopsticks. With robotic instruments, however, Saggi can still articulate his wrists, hands, and fingers — just in a much smaller incision.

“I think it leads to much faster patient recovery,” he said. “The patient experience is so much better. They return to work quicker, their pain is minimal, and I think that’s what patients really want.”

Saggi’s interest in general surgery began at a young age.

“I grew up in a small town and the general surgeon there was a family friend, so I kind of shadowed him,” he said.

Saggi graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in 1994. He completed specialty training and general surgery training at the Medical College of Virginia and the University of California at Los Angeles. For about 12 years, he practiced in Houston and New Orleans as a transplant and general surgeon with an emphasis on liver, pancreas and bile duct disorders. When an opportunity arose in 2015 for a change of pace in the Rio Grande Valley, though, Saggi seized it.

Dr. Jose Farias, whom Saggi knew from Houston, and a recruiter encouraged Saggi to consider a position with South Texas Health System-affiliated Valley Care Clinics.

“When I came here, I fell in love with the place,” Saggi said. “The place had tremendous potential for growth both in general surgery, where there is a relative shortage of us here, and in specialty areas. I saw that as a growth opportunity for me.”

Saggi now shares an office with Farias and two other surgeons. “We’ve worked closely together for four years,” he said. “We trust each other wholeheartedly.”

The people in the Rio Grande Valley also welcomed Saggi to the region.

“They’re warm, they’re kind, they’re friendly,” he said. “The relationship with patients in the Valley is very much one of mutual respect — which, in some parts of the country, has kind of eroded away, so I really enjoy that part of the Valley.”

Saggi’s background in liver and kidney transplantations gave him the experience he needed to focus on other problems related to those organs, including dialysis access surgery for patients to help maintain access sites for the duration of their time on dialysis, and cancer surgery.

“One of the areas I focus on is cancer surgery — breast, colon and other GI cancers, but I have a specific interest in pancreas cancer, liver cancer, bile duct cancer,” Saggi said. “The latter are cancers that tend to have poorer prognoses, require advanced surgical skills, and these are things I’ve been blessed to be able to develop with my training and previous experience.”

That experience means that patients don’t have to travel outside of the region for a high level of care.

“I have a tremendous amount of experience in that area so I feel that’s something unique I bring to the Valley,” Saggi said. “I think with the surgical skills we have and the specialists we have that help me with that, we can take care of all those patients here.”

Dr. Bob Saggi, MD, FACS, is a general surgeon who practices at Valley Care Clinics Lindberg Avenue office, 416 Lindberg Ave., Suite A, in McAllen. Learn more about his practice by calling (956) 630-4161 or by visiting valleycareclinics.com/find-a-doctor/bob-saggi.