2020 Top Doctor: Christine Lovato, M.D.

Editorial StaffMarch 19, 2020
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Photography by Steve Craft
Photography by Steve Craft

Bariatrics

Med School/Year Graduated: University of New Mexico, 2008

Years in Practice: 6

What drew you to bariatric medicine? Did someone close to you struggle with obesity?

My mother struggled with obesity her whole life. She passed away my fourth year of medical school. None of her doctors suggested bariatric surgery as an option. I feel like it might have given her a chance to live a longer, healthier life.

What is your preferred bariatric procedure, and why? Are there any promising new advances/techniques on the horizon?

I don’t have a preferred procedure. Although gastric bypass is a fun operation, I’m looking forward to performing more duodenal switch operations [in which ingested food bypasses much of the small intestine]. I think this will be a procedure that will be needed in the fight against the disease of obesity in the near future. The hope is that one day we can find the metabolic “switch” and develop a medication that can truly help. Unfortunately, this is quite a long way away.

Part of your job is educating patients on healthy eating habits. What are your favorite nutritious dishes in the Valley?

I love the variety of farm-to-table restaurants in the Valley. Flower Child and True Food Kitchen are fantastic and very healthy. St. Francis is also so great. My absolute favorites are LGO [La Grande Orange] and Chelsea’s Kitchen.

You went to medical school in New Mexico. What do you miss most about the state?

I actually grew up there. I miss the sunsets. I miss my family gatherings with mariachi music all night. Mostly, though, I miss the smell of roasting green chile in the crisp fall air. Hands down, definitely the green chile, which you could get on everything.

You’re married to your high school sweetheart! Any tips for relationship longevity?

Haha. Patience. All the patience. Really, though, you need to be ready to have a completely brand new relationship to rebuild every few years… just with the same person.

You’re an avid hiker. Favorite trails in the Phoenix metro area?

I’m a regular at Squaw [Piestewa] Peak. That being said, I’m still one of the slow ones. Echo is my second favorite, but now that I have a tiny human, 32nd [Street] and Lincoln [Drive] trails are much more doable.

Name the best depiction of your field in TV or film that you’ve ever seen.

Hmm, that one’s tough. Movies and TV shows are notoriously bad at portraying medicine as it really is. I think one of the most heartwarming movies that makes people believe in the goodness of doctors is Patch Adams. It’s important because they care for patients in an environment that is very much lacking in resources that are needed.

What are you watching on Netflix these days?

When my 3-year-old allows it, I squeeze in some Workin’ Moms where I can. Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History and NPR’s Hidden Brain [podcasts] are my favorites.

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”

Wow… I would love to write. Always dreamt of being a writer when I was younger. Guess I can do both – so many physicians have!

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