Dr. John Koziarski MD

Board Certified General Surgeon

What is Functional Medicine, and how did a surgeon end up as a functional medicine practitioner?

Let me answer the second part of that question first, then the first part will be easier to understand.

The title of “general” surgeon is a misnomer. We are a specialist, just like all other surgeons. Our specialty is the abdomen.  We deal with all types of problems that cause abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, bloating, belching, indigestion, malabsorption, weight loss, weight gain, bleeding, infections, and the list goes on.
Very often, these problems are treated surgically. Cholecystectomy (removal of the gall bladder), appendectomy (removal of the appendix), Nissen fundoplication (for heartburn), vagotomy (to treat peptic ulcer disease) are some of the more common operations for abdominal problems.

However, there is not always an operation to help someone with abdominal problems or we do an operation, and the patient continues to have symptoms. These patients often get told they have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. There is nothing to do surgically. They are told to “manage their stress” and “increase their fiber”. They are told that their pain is psychosomatic. They are often labeled as hypochondriacs.  They usually remain miserable.

As an “abdominal pain specialist”, I became extremely frustrated when a family member began down this path. Referrals to Kalamazoo and then University of Michigan led nowhere. Then, many trips, and two major operations at the Cleveland clinic were undertaken. Despite the removal of a great portion of the intestinal tract, the symptoms were now worse. And there were many new problems as a side effect of the surgery. The worst of these being malnutrition.
This prompted a referral to a nutrition specialist. A complete dietary overhaul and nutritional correction lead to the resolution of the abdominal pain for the first time in 6 years!
This was amazing. This functional medicine practitioner was able to treat this problem that had evaded some of the best medical centers in our country. I couldn’t believe it. And despite seeing it with my own eyes, I was extremely skeptical. We were never taught anything like this in medical school. This has to be “voodoo medicine”. I wanted to see the research, the data, the proof, that food and supplements could really treat these surgical problems that baffled us.
A lot of research and investigation led me to the data, the proof, and to more education. This was through the Institute of Functional Medicine. This information has been out there for over 30 years.

Functional medicine is a different way of looking at and treating disease. It is finding the root cause of disease, and correcting it, rather than giving a pill to suppress the symptoms. This is like surgery, without cutting; an intervention is performed, and the problem is gone for good.
I truly believe that functional medicine will be the new paradigm of health care over the next 50 years. It is spending more time with patients, listening to their problems, analyzing their history and their environment to discover the underlying cause of their disease. It is encouraging healthy lifestyle choices to keep disease from starting, rather than giving medicine to simply suppress symptoms.

Dr. Koziarski’s Story

Dr. Koziarski was born and raised in Toledo, OH. He obtained his undergraduate education at the University of Toledo, and then attended the Medical College of Ohio to obtain his MD degree. Following medical school, he completed a 5 year residency at the Medical College of Ohio in the study of General and Vascular Surgery.
As a Board Certified general surgeon and member of the American College of Surgeons (FACS), Dr. Koziarski began private practice in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1994. Since then he has performed over 25,000 operations in the fields of general and vascular surgery.

In 2003, Dr. Koziarski limited his vascular practice to the treatment of varicose veins. While still performing the full range of general surgery, he took additional training in the treatment of venous diseases, specializing in Phlebology, and was the first physician in Michigan to perform an endovenous laser ablation. He passed the first certification exam given by the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine.

Dr. Koziarski has always stayed on the cutting edge of the practice of surgery throughout his career in Battle Creek.
He has brought many “firsts” to the area:

  • Sentinal lymph node biopsy in the treatment of breast cancer
  • Office based ultrasound breast biopsy
  • Advanced laparoscopic procedures including splenectomy, colectomy, and ventral hernia repair
  • Transoral surgery for gastroesophageal reflux
  • Single site da Vinci robotic surgery
  • Separation of components hernia repair- Open and da Vinci techniques
  • Non tumescent forms of endovenous closure

In 2013, Dr Koziarski began looking at nutrition and lifestyle modifications to help patients who were not responding to “traditional” medical or surgical therapy. The science based application of these principles is called Functional Medicine.  Dr Koziarski’s original practice, Family Surgical, PLC was the first physician practice in Calhoun County to offer this model of care.
Many years of additional training was undertaken in the field of functional medicine, mostly through the Institute of Functional Medicine.
This new paradigm of health care has prompted a change in practice and practice style for Dr Koziarski.  In 2017, Family Surgical became Restorative Health Care. Dr. Koziarski is now based full time at the Restorative Health Care clinic, providing vein care, functional medicine care, and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures.