Is there a way to undergo weight loss surgery without needing incisions and a lengthy recovery period? Though it may sound too good to be true, in fact a growing number of surgeons are performing such procedures. Some incision-free procedures are still in the experimental stage, while other cutting-edge treatments are already available for those looking to lose their excess weight. If you are looking for a weight loss solution but want to avoid incisions, explore these new options.
Are You a Candidate?
Most candidates for weight loss procedures are at least 80-100 pounds overweight, although these incision-free alternatives can be performed on those who have 50-80 pounds to lose. Incision-free methods may be used on some patients who have health complications that make more invasive procedures a poor option.
StomaphyX and the transoral rose, two forms of incision-free weight loss surgery, are recommended for those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery but have started to regain the excess weight. Other methods are recommended for those who are overweight but aren’t ready to commit to major abdominal surgery to help them lose the pounds. Incision-free weight loss procedures allow patients to lose weight without undergoing major surgery, with the resulting recovery period and scars.
Incision Free Weight Loss Procedures
During ‘Incision-free’ weight loss surgery, the surgeon inserts the needed devices and tools through your throat, rather than an incision in your abdomen. The way the procedure is performed depends on the specific technique chosen by the patient. Some of the incision-free weight loss surgery options include:
|Endoluminal Sleeve or EndoBarrier||A sleeve that lines the upper portion of the small intestine, bypassing the duodenum and the first portion of the jejunum. This limits the amount of food that may be absorbed by the body.|
|Stomaphy X||During this procedure the doctor reduces the size of the stomach. Performed on those who have undergone gastric bypass or other forms of weight loss surgery, but whose stomach has become stretched out since the procedure, StomaphyX returns the stomach to the smaller size that it was immediately following surgery.|
|Transoral Gastroplasty or Toga Surgery||An experimental procedure in which the doctor inserts a stapler device down the throat. Once in the stomach, the device is then used to staple off a portion of the stomach, making it smaller. The new stomach only holds a small amount of food, reducing the amount of food that may be eaten at each meal.|
|Transoral Rose||Like StomaphyX, Transoral Rose is a procedure that is performed on those who have regained weight after a previous weight loss surgery. During surgery, sutures are used to create folds around the stoma, creating a narrower diameter. The stomach will empty slower with the narrower stoma, leaving patients feeling fuller faster.|
|Gastric balloon||The gastric balloon is already available in some parts of the world, though it is not yet FDA approved for use in the U.S. A deflated balloon is inserted down the throat and into the stomach. Then, it is filled with liquid or air to reduce the amount of food that may be eaten. This temporary measure may be left in place for up to six months, and the stomach will be returned to its previous size once the balloon is removed.|
Some of the risks of incision-free weight loss procedures include throat pain during recovery. Other risks are related to the specific technique used, and may include acid reflux, leakage, or the movement or loosening of the band, staples, sutures, or balloon inserted to perform the procedure. In general, incision-free methods are seen as safer than more invasive types of bariatric surgery.
What to Expect During Your Recovery
After surgery, patients can expect their throat to feel sore due to the insertion of surgical instruments down the throat. Other side effects may be gastrointestinal in nature, such as nausea or diarrhea. In general, patients who undergo these minimally invasive approaches to weight loss surgery are back to work in about a week.
What are the Costs?
Incision-free forms of weight loss surgery are still considered ahead of the curve. Many are still in experimental stages, meaning that they are not widely offered to patients, and may only be available to those participating in clinical trials. As a result, the average costs of such procedures remain unknown. Insurance companies may or may not cover these new methods of weight loss treatment. Some surgeons estimate that the costs of incision-free weight loss surgery will range from $6,000 to $12,000.