Dr. Jacobo: All Star Bariatric Surgeon in Costa Rica

Jacobo was born into a medical family. His father practiced medicine as an Anesthesiologist. It was from his father he learned about the discipline and self-sacrifice of a doctor’s life. Even at the age of 77 his father was up at 6am and at the hospital by 8am.

A life lesson his son carries with him to this day. As Jacobo grew up in Panama his father made a point to involve him in the medical world. As a teenager he determined to follow his father into a doctors life.

But before the doctor came the athlete. At 6’2″ and a with a lanky, athletic frame young Jacobo, aka ‘Jake’, excelled at sports. In baseball he played catcher and was so good at firing the baseball across the infield catching runners trying to ‘steal’ second he was called ‘Shotgun’.

Besides baseball, he played basketball as a power forward and had a deadly jump shot.

In fact, even at the age of 45, you can catch Dr. Jacobo, “Jake’, playing basketball with his buddies every Saturday at Parque Sabana, which is the Central Park of San Jose.

His other sports love was tennis. He still plays tennis regularly inspired by his tennis hero Rafael Nadal.

I asked him about his greatest sports moment and it came in an international baseball game between Israel and Panama when he hit the proverbial bottom of the ninth, walk-off homerun with 2 outs, to win the game for Panama.

Ok, back to medicine.

After finishing high school in Panama, he went to Costa Rica and entered the medical university UCIMED. Unlike the US, medical students in Costa Rica go to a medical undergraduate school straight out of high school for 5 years. They then begin an arduous course of study having to take a comprehensive exam every year to advance.

Upon graduation he returned to Panama and spent 2 years as an intern and then 2 years as a general practitioner. Then he returned to Costa Rica as a general surgery resident for 4 years at Hospital San Juan de Dios, under the watchful eye of his mentor Dr. German Fainzilver.

Then, pursuing his specialty in bariatric medicine he went to Argentina and later Cornell University in the US.

Since beginning his bariatric practice Dr. Jacobo has performed over 3500 surgeries. He performs over 300 bariatric surgeries a year. He was the first surgeon to perform metabolic surgery in Central America in 2006 and has completed 200 more since then.

The greatest challenge Dr. Jacobo sees in acceptance of bariatric medicine is the lack of education among patients, and even some doctors. Instead of just treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes with pills or shots, especially Type 2 diabetes, bariatric medicine and its specialized surgeries offers a high rate of CURES or outcomes with substantial improvement for the patient with these diseases.

Dr. Jacobo wants to help educate the wider public and the medical community that bariatric medicine is just not about weight loss. It offers answers, and potentially permanent relief, to the daily battles people have with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, especially Type 2.

Dr. Jacobo’s office is in the private Clinica Biblica Hospital in San Jose. He and his wife Monica, who is a practicing Anesthesiologist, have two children Tania and Victor.

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