Dr. Luis Serrano moves to a new area and practice
in the middle of a pandemic.
A pandemic is not the time to be moving and joining a practice, but in that challenging atmosphere, Dr. Luis Serrano was recently welcomed to help expand Osceola Surgical Care Specialists’ dedicated services in the Kissimmee area as a general surgeon with subspecialties in bariatric surgery and minimally invasive foregut surgery to treat conditions of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Here, we introduce Dr. Serrano to Central Florida’s medical community through an informative Q&A:
When did you know you wanted to be a physician?
Dr. Serrano: Growing up in Quito, Ecuador, I saw a huge population in need, which is ultimately what made me want to help people. I began to look up to physicians and thought they were amazing. As soon as I saw my first surgery in my third year of medical school, I knew I wanted to be a surgeon. My work is technical and complex, but many of the treatment plans I provide are also straightforward. I appreciate that someone can come to me with a medical problem, and I can often deliver relief and improve their quality of life with just one procedure.
Can you tell us about your journey to become a surgeon here in Orlando?
Dr. Serrano: I was born and raised in Ecuador, but because my mother was American, I had dual citizenship. My family traveled to the U.S. a lot growing up, which inspired me to move here as an adult. After attending medical school at the Universidad Internacional del Ecuador, I ultimately decided to train in general surgery at East Tennessee State University. Tennessee reminded me a lot of my home – the people were very family-oriented, there were beautiful mountain views, and I had plenty of opportunities to hike. Following my training, I wanted to stay in the Southern U.S. and further explore both bariatric and minimally invasive surgery. I found a great fellowship at the University of South Florida that checked both boxes. After completing my fellowship, I wanted to get into practice doing upper GI and bariatric surgery, which is how I discovered the role with Osceola Surgical Care Specialists.
Besides appealing to your subspecialties in bariatric and minimally invasive foregut surgery, what made this new role attractive to you?
Dr. Serrano: Being affiliated with HCA Healthcare meant that I would have opportunities to work with residency programs at Osceola Regional Medical Center, as well as medical students at UCF Lake Nona Medical Center, our newest Central Florida hospital set to open in early 2021. Academically, receiving mentorship and mentoring others was always a huge part of my journey. Having been taught by great professors and mentors myself, I feel it’s my duty to give back. So far, I’ve been very involved in helping teach residents alongside colon and rectal surgeon, Dr. Philip Kondylis. I enjoy seeing residents learn and grow in their own careers.
What are the main reasons patients are referred to you?
Dr. Serrano: Gastroenterologists often refer patients to me for pathologies affecting the esophagus, including obstruction, narrowing or functional immobilization of the esophagus, as well as food regurgitation into the esophagus and upper GI bleeding due to ulceration or laceration of the esophageal mucosa. I commonly perform Nissen fundoplication (or Lap Nissen), a laparoscopic procedure performed for patients with GERD, as well as hiatal hernia surgery, Heller myotomy procedures, and the entire spectrum of upper GI surgery. Primary care doctors can refer patients to me for weight loss surgery, hernia surgery, gallbladder surgery and any other general surgeries their patients may need.
Are there any common misconceptions patients have regarding GI issues?
Dr. Serrano: When it comes to digestive issues, such as reflux and GI motility disorders, patients often ignore their discomfort and chalk symptoms up to “bad genetics.” However, there’s so many things we can do to help. If a surgical procedure is required, the robotic platform has been a game changer. While these were once considered major surgeries, patients now enjoy a shorter stay in the hospital – often between 24 to 48 hours – and can return to normal activities in just a few short weeks. While something like chronic reflux may not seem life-threatening, chronic exposure of acid within the esophagus can lead to a condition known as Barrett's esophagus, in which the flat pink lining of the swallowing tube that connects the mouth to the stomach becomes damaged. Not only does this cause constant discomfort and trouble sleeping, but it can also predispose patients to esophageal cancer. If something feels off, it’s always in a patient’s best interest to seek medical guidance and investigate treatment options.
You started your new role amid the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s that been like?
Dr. Serrano: The pandemic has certainly presented challenges. We quickly adapted our policies and procedures to ensure patient safety and comfort. In lieu of the traditional in-person info sessions, we’ve also had to get creative to market our surgical offerings to the community. The biggest challenge has been building personal relationships with other physicians and residents. Normally, you’d be inviting your new colleagues to lunch, but social distancing has limited this. Instead, I’ve improvised by setting up virtual and socially distanced meetings.
How do you maintain a positive work/life balance?
Dr. Serrano: When life gets busy, I remember the advice of one of my mentors: family comes first. With a two-year-old daughter and a son on the way in February 2021, my wife and I strive to live by this motto. It doesn’t matter how great a job I’m doing at work if I’m not also showing up in my personal life. If my family is happy, then I’m happy – and I’m a better doctor. It’s a snowball effect.
Do you have any unique hobbies?
Dr. Serrano: I have a variety of active hobbies, including running, cycling and all things sports. I enjoy playing guitar and adding to my music collection. As my family gets settled in Orlando, I’d also like to pick up martial arts again. It’s something I enjoyed as a young child in Ecuador.
Dr. Serrano practices at Osceola Surgical Care Specialists, an affiliate of Osceola Regional Medical Center and the HCA Healthcare North Florida Division – Orlando Market. Phone 407.483.3376