Weight loss procedures have progressed greatly over the last 20 years, and JourneyLite Physicians has always been on the leading edge. In the not-so-distant past patients were forced to commit to big operations, big incisions, long hospital stays, and potentially high risk. Now, however, there are many new developments in the field of weight loss procedures that could be real game-changers in the field.
Many patients are interested in losing weight, but they don’t want to have surgery. Diets have failed them repeatedly over the years and they need a more powerful option to succeed. For decades, gastric bypass was the gold standard, and still is in many circles. But there are two camps who are looking for non-surgical options: those who don’t have enough weight to lose to justify full-on surgery, and those who qualify for surgery but their fears of being cut on outweigh the benefits of bariatric surgery.
The risk of weight loss surgery has really come way down in the last decade, and it’s now no more risky than gallbladder surgery. But the more options we have in our arsenal, the more effective we can be at treating the disease of obesity. At JourneyLite Physicians, we are of the opinion that obesity treatments might be more successful if patients were treated at a lower BMI, intervening earlier rather than waiting for the scale to climb high enough to require gastric bypass.
First in the field of incisionless weight loss came the gastric balloon. Some patients don’t like the temporary nature of a balloon, as it must be removed after 6 months. So there aremany patients out there looking for a more permanent tool. A newer procedure, called the endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty, or “ESG” could some day fit the bill for these patients.
The ESG procedure uses an endoscopic “sewing machine” called the Overstitch (Apollo Endosurgery). Sutures are placed inside the patients stomach to reduce the gastric volume, while the patient is under anesthesia. One study has shown that after patients have the ESG, they require 59% fewer calories to achieve maximum fullness. Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, early results have been promising. Patients can typically have this procedure done on an outpatient basis and be back to work in about a week.
This procedure shows promise but is not yet time-tested and early results were very encouraging. Intermediate results, however, show a reasonably high rate of suture failure, which allows the stomach to re-expand. So, although this procedure could become a standard in the arsenal of incisionless weight loss options, currently we are not offering it. We will continue to monitor the scientific evidence and advancements in technology to see if the ESG is validated as a durable procedure.