Ask a General Surgeon: Dr Melvin Look from Mount Elizabeth (Orchard) Hospital Singapore

Ask a Doctor ForumCategory: General SurgeryAsk a General Surgeon: Dr Melvin Look from Mount Elizabeth (Orchard) Hospital Singapore
Dr Melvin Look asked 11 months ago
I am Dr Melvin Look, General Surgeon based in Mount Elizabeth (Orchard) Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital Singapore and Parkway East Hospital Singapore. Ask Me Anything!

I am a Consultant General Surgeon and Medical Director of the PanAsia Surgical Group in Mount Elizabeth Orchard Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital and Parkway East Hospital. I graduated with MBBS from the National University of Singapore and completed my Fellowship in Surgery with the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons Glasgow.

I underwent further training for a year at the National Cancer Center Hospital in Tokyo on a Ministry of Health Fellowship in Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Surgery. I also worked for a year in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, UK, as an Honorary Consultant in Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery. Other training awards include a TTSH Scholarship in Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery at the Mt Sinai Medical Centre, New York, and an International Cancer Fellowship from the Union Internationale Contre le Cancer (UICC) for the Treatment of Peritoneal Cancer at the Washington Cancer Institute, Washington DC.

I am a general surgeon with a subspecialty expertise in gastrointestinal surgery, therapeutic endoscopy (including ERCP) and advanced laparoscopic surgery. I have a strong interest in Radical Resection, including Peritonectomy Procedures, for the surgical treatment of esophageal, gastric, pancreatic and abdominal cancers. I also perform a wide repertoire of minimally invasive surgery and was the first surgeon in the South East Asia to perform a number of advanced laparoscopic operations; including Hand-assisted Laparoscopic Surgery, Endoscopic Thyroid Surgery, and Laparoscopic Swedish Adjustable Gastric Banding for morbid obesity.

I am very much involved in surgical education and was a Clinical Lecturer with the National University of Singapore. I am currently a Clinical Teacher with the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. I have been invited to surgical demonstrations in international conferences and proctored the training of many laparoscopic surgeons in Singapore and the region. In 2002, I set up the first laparoscopic surgery training center outside of USA to be endorsed by the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES).

Learn more about me here: https://patients.smarterhealth.sg/specialist-doctor/melvin-look/

I am excited to be here to share/discuss the surgical treatment of esophageal, gastric, pancreatic and abdominal cancers with everyone. I will be actively answering questions. Whether you’ve got questions about upper gastrointestinal cancer surgery, laparoscopic surgery, gastrointestinal surgery or therapeutic endoscopy, ask me anything!

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16 Answers
Eugene answered 10 months ago

I have a recurring gastric acid reflux. I first had this around 3 years ago. Since then I have been taking medications in varying quantities depending on the severity of my condition. I feel it’s getting serious lately. The pain goes to my chest and shoulder and neck. I also lost weight. Is there any other treatment to cure this because all the medications I take don’t seem to work?

V. answered 10 months ago

My brother has a problem with his stomach. It hurts to swallow food like red meat or food that has strong flavors (sour or spicy). He will be in pain and will sometimes throw up. His current diet now is mostly vegetables or chicken. He has also stopped drinking alcohol as he believes that’s the trigger. Iis there any medical treatment we should consider besides getting rid of the trigger (if there is a trigger for his case)?

Jansen answered 10 months ago

My wife gave birth to our first son a month ago. She is now breastfeeding. All along she has been complaining about pain in her upper abdomen – this is about three years now. She now says her stomach feels bloated. What medicine could she take in her current state, especially when she’s breastfeeding our baby?

Yu Ting answered 10 months ago

My sister has been having GERD since 3 years ago. It started when she was on various crash diets. Now, whenever the GERD is triggered, she feels weak, vomits a lot and her stomach aches. Is it possible she has other conditions in her stomach? The last time she had an endoscopy was in 2019. Should she do it again?

Yong Seng answered 10 months ago

Morning. Last year, I was hospitalized for stomach ulcer. Then I was prescribed PPI and antibiotics. I got better, but recently I feel my stomach burning whenever I am hungry. After meals and drinking water, it is relieved. But my bowel movements have been watery and more frequent, 3-4 times a day. Is this condition related to the ulcer? Should I do another endoscopy?

Dr Melvin Look
replied 10 months ago

The majority of stomach ulcers will be healed by medical treatment with a 6 week course of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to suppress acid secretion in the stomach. Some ulcers can also be due a chronic infection in the stomach with a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (HP). The course of antibiotics you were given is for HP treatment.

Healing ulcers should become asymptomatic with a week. If you continue to have persistent symptoms or have recurrence of symptoms you will need a repeat endoscopy to check if you have an intractable ulcer. This is an ulcer that refuses to heal with medication. 10 to 20% of people may also have HP that is resistant to conventional antibiotics.

Finally, some stomach ulcers may be due to an underlying cancer that was not picked up during the first endoscopy. A repeat endoscopy is usually recommended to document healing of all stomach ulcers.

Freida answered 10 months ago

Hi Doctor, I am a 35 year old female who is considering weight loss surgery. I am close to 100kg now and am standing at 1.7m tall. I have had previous medical history with thyroid issues (removed benign tumour from thyroid) and I always feel lethargic. I also stress-eat as a way to cope with pressure from work. I have also considered liposuction but the doctor told me to lose weight and be in a healthy BMI range first. My question is, which would you recommend for someone like me, gastric banding or gastric bypass?

Dr Melvin Look
replied 10 months ago

You are a good candidate for weight loss surgery, but do get a blood test to exclude a low thyroid function after previous thyroid surgery as this can cause abnormal weight gain.

The ideal procedure for you is the Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy as it is a very safe operation with good outcomes for the majority of patients.

Laparoscopic Gastric Banding was popular twenty years ago but rarely done now as there is a high incidence of band related long term complications.

Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass is very popular in the west but not so suitable for Asians as we have a higher risk of stomach cancer compared to Caucasians. Risk of complications during surgery are also higher than Sleeve Gastrectomy and there may be long term nutritional problems related to post surgical malabsorption in the intestines.

Theresa answered 10 months ago
Hi i had acid reflux a year ago. Since then I had been taking medication however it does not seems to go away. What other treatment can i consider ?

Min Liong answered 10 months ago

Can surgery help treat recurring stomach ulcers?

Tina answered 10 months ago

My husband has ulcerative colitis and also quite serious acid reflux. He’s been taking medications for close to 3 years now and goes for a colonoscopy every year. Whenever he is under a lot of stress for work, he will experience blood in his stools. Besides medications, is there really nothing else we can do for his condition? What are the chances of it developing into stomach/colon cancer? Both his parents have history of cancer.

Lay Choo answered 10 months ago

I have been feeling pain in my esophagus and epigastrium. This pain comes with constipation. Beside that, I also have other symptoms, such as bitterness in my tongue and nausea. How do I check if this condition is serious?

Dr Melvin Look
replied 10 months ago

Your symptoms are non-specific and may not point to anything serious. However, it is always better to see a doctor to review if further checks are necessary. The best investigation would be a gastroscopy and colonoscopy to check the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract respectively.

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