Contact us
General enquiries 020 7806 4000
Urgent care clinic 020 7432 8300
Book an appointment 020 7806 4060

What does a Bowel Consultant do? Mr Asif Haq answers

Read time: 5 mins

Mr Asif Haq is a highly experienced Colorectal Consultant and General Minimal Access Surgeon who practices at our hospital. As a coloproctologist (colorectal surgeon) he investigates and treats disorders of the bowel and anus.

Mr Haq is a specialist in laparoscopic and robotic surgery and is an expert in bowel cancer and a range of other conditions, including:

  • constipation;
  • rectal bleeding;
  • hemorrhoids (piles);
  • anal fistulae;
  • rectal prolapse;
  • inflammatory bowel diseases (such as Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis);
  • complex pilonidal sinus (where a small hole develops in the skin at the top of your bum, which can become inflamed ); and
  • Diverticular disease (where areas of your large intestine become inflamed).

He is also extremely proficient in revision abdominal (tummy) surgery, particularly abdominal wall reconstructions, reversal surgery for stomas, and hernia repairs.

We met up with him to find out more about what he does.

Why would a patient come to see you?

Most people I see just want a check-up, but of course, I also see many people who have a problem or suspect there’s something wrong. In this situation, and even sometimes when they just want a check-up, they will be worried and anxious, so I offer a friendly non-judgemental service, where I try to help each person holistically and not just treat their issue.

I also see patients who have had surgery elsewhere, had complications, and then want to see a super-specialised person such as myself.

I have been a surgeon for over 30 years and a consultant for 20 of those, so over that time I have gained a huge amount of experience. I’m super-specialised, simply because of the amount of experience I have. When I treat someone, surgically or otherwise, I always aim for the fastest recovery possible and minimal scars, so that they can quickly get back to looking and feeling like themselves again.

Usually, I see patients with gastrointestinal problems such as:

  • weight-loss;
  • rectal bleeding;
  • changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, bloating;
  • fatigue;
  • Pain or discomfort, such as stomach aches, feeling gassy or bloated, and having cramps.

Some patients come to me because they have cancer and want to make sure they’re in safe hands and are being looked after by an expert in the field.

Others will have a more functional issue, such as a hernia, and want to carry on with their routine or keep on top of their active lifestyle.

What’s the difference between Gastrointestinal and bowel doctors?

There’s a lot of cross-over between GI and bowel issues, and many of the symptoms are quite similar.

A gastroenterologist (GI doctor) and bowel (colorectal) surgeon will often do similar investigations – such as colonoscopies, but there is some variation in what they treat and how a colorectal surgeon operates.

Generally speaking:

  • Colorectal surgeons don’t treat stomach, pancreas or liver issues (so anything higher up in the digestive tract) – gastroenterologists do.
  • Colorectal doctors on the other hand treat issues further down the digestive tract, in the bowel and anus. They can treat bleeding, cancer, and piles and are experts in keyhole surgery and minimal access surgery. They also offer non-surgical treatments for issues such as piles, which can be done quickly and easily during a consultation. This can include injections and banding for piles.

Often, a patient will be referred to one specialty from the other and vice versa, but every patient has the right to choose the doctor they feel is best suited to their needs.

What gets you up in the morning?

I enjoy my work.  I always aim to listen to the patient and provide thoughtful care, which is important to me. Each person will speak and think differently, so building a rapport, and being able to communicate with them as a human is incredibly powerful.

My first step is to understand why someone has come to see me and then it’s all about problem-solving.

When I treat a patient, they feel better and can get back to their family and routine, it’s a wonderful feeling. I always say that a good patient is a patient you never see again.

Part of the local community

I live near St John & St Elizabeth Hospital and am very much part of the community, just as the hospital is embedded in the local area.

The hospital has been helping people for a very long time, over 165 years, and to be a part of that heritage is very special.

I feel very lucky to work here and to help patients who come from near and far.

Mr Asif Haq is available at our hospital on alternate Wednesdays.

If you’d like to book an appointment, fill out the inquiry form on his profile page or give us a call at 020 7806 4060.

Posted on: 16 January 2024