Mark Watson, M.D.

  • Surgery - Bariatric and Foregut Surgery
  • Hiatal Hernia
  • Bariatric/Weight Loss Surgery


Mark Watson, M.D., is a Professor in the Department of Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He specializes in advanced laparoscopy techniques. Dr. Watson deploys the surgical robot for correction of gastroesophageal reflux, hernia repair, and other minimally invasive surgical procedures. He sees the robot as an incredible tool to better care for patients in many types of procedures.

Dr. Watson earned his medical degree at Washington University in St. Louis and completed a residency in general surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He joined the faculty at UT Southwestern in 2002 and currently teaches, practices, and does research in minimally invasive surgery.

He is a recognized authority on laparoscopic gastric banding, a bariatric procedure more commonly called the Lap-Band, having co-authored the patient-centered Lap-Band Companion Handbook in addition to many other publications in medical journals.

Dr. Watson is a committee member of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES). He is a consultant for the American Board of Surgery Certifying Exam. Dr. Watson is also a member of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), and past president of the North Texas Chapter of the ACS. He is an elected member of the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) National Medical Honor Society.

Personal Note

As a California native, Dr. Watson enjoys the ocean and has snow skied since he was young. Dr. Watson has made Dallas his permanent home with his beautiful wife, Dana, an online business owner. As a member of the faculty of UT Southwestern, he is better able to care for patients than when he was in private practice in California.

Meet Dr. Watson

Complex Abdominal Wall Hernia Surgery and Lap-Band Weight Loss Surgery Specialist

UT Southwestern’s Mark Watson, M.D., cares for patients with large and recurrent abdominal wall hernias. An article published in the World Journal of Surgery reported Dr. Watson’s previous 10-year experience at UT Southwestern with ventral hernia repairs utilizing his technique for abdominal wall reconstruction. This study revealed a hernia recurrence rate of 5 to 7% at five years. This rivals the best results from simple inguinal hernia repairs. The incidence of major complications was minimal. He continues the development of this technique to improve outcomes for patients in the future.

Dr. Watson wrote the book on Lap-Band weight loss surgery – literally. The Lap-Band Companion Handbook is a comprehensive guide for patients who either have had or are considering the procedure. Having performed Lap-Band operations for more than a dozen years, Dr. Watson is one of the nation’s pre-eminent authorities on the procedure, and he knows the decision to have the surgery is one no patient makes lightly.

“Compared to other bariatric surgery options, the Lap-Band is the safest procedure and it is reversible. But it is still surgery, and anytime you have surgery and are obese, there are risks,” Dr. Watson says. “What you have to balance is the decision to accept the risks of having surgery, versus the risks of being obese and not doing anything at all.”

With the advent of the surgical robot, Dr. Watson is even better able to repair hiatal hernias and correct gastroesophageal reflux. Many of his current patients are lung transplant recipients, who must be free of reflux. He currently utilizes the da Vinci robot for many procedures to safely repair inguinal hernias and complex ventral hernias.

Prior to joining the faculty of UT Southwestern in 2002, Dr. Watson was already an accomplished surgeon performing a wide variety of advanced laparoscopic procedures. He continues to devote much of his surgical practice to laparoscopic hiatal, ventral, and inguinal hernia repairs. Though he excels at patient care, he says that equally important to him is his role in training surgeons of the future.

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Education & Training
  • Graduate School - University of Texas at Dallas (2006-2010), Health Sector Management
  • Residency - Barnes Jewish Hospital (1988-1993), General Surgery
  • Medical School - Washington University School of Medicine (1984-1988)
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract
  • Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons
  • Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons
  • American Society for Bariatric Surgery
  • American College of Surgeons, Fellow
Honors & Awards
  • D Magazine Best Doctor 2021-2022
  • Outstanding Achievement in Resident Teaching 2004, UT Southwestern Medical Center
  • Outstanding Graduate Award 1984, College of Sciences, San Diego State Univ.
  • Laboratory comparisons of laparoscopic techniques of esophagectomy

Clinical Focus

  • Hiatal Hernia
  • Bariatric/Weight Loss Surgery
  • Diaphragm Hernia Surgery
  • Barrett's Esophagus
  • Hernia & Abdominal Wall Repair Surgery
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux & Heartburn Surgery
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) - Heartburn
  • General Surgical Procedures
  • Gastrointestinal Surgery

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Q&A by Dr. Watson