The United States is facing an ever-growing obesity epidemic, with more than forty percent of adult Americans having body mass index readings that place them in the obese category on the BMI scale. Many of these people also suffer from major health problems like high blood pressure, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, or other conditions that are associated with obesity. In addition to the individuals who are obese, there is an additional thirty percent of adults fall into the overweight category according to BMI metrics.
This means that only about thirty percent of the adult population in the United States is at what is considered by experts to be a healthy weight.
Many are aware of their unhealthy weight and have made fruitless attempts to reduce it through diet and exercise. The problem is that once a person’s body mass index (BMI) approaches the obesity threshold, it is extremely unlikely for them to experience a significant reduction in their BMI level without medical intervention.
Some individuals choose to undergo bariatric surgery, such as a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass operation to help them lose weight. While these surgical procedures can provide substantial weight loss results, they also involve the risks, complications, and side effects that are associated with surgery. There are also many who do not meet the bariatric surgery qualifications or have their own reasons for wanting to avoid surgery. This is where endoscopic weight-loss procedures can help.
Today, we are going to talk about endoscopic weight loss: what it is, how it works, and what results you can expect from an endoscopic weight loss procedure.
What Is Endoscopic Weight Loss?
An endoscopic weight loss procedure is a non-surgical alternative to bariatric surgery that can help a patient lose a significant amount of weight. Endoscopic weight loss procedures use an endoscope to facilitate weight loss and are also referred to as endobariatric procedures, which are a relatively recent addition to the field of gastroenterology.
Endoscopic weight loss procedures are performed with the aid of an endoscope, a medical device that looks like a narrow, flexible, hollow tube. The tube-like endoscope is equipped with a camera and a light and is carefully lowered through the patient’s mouth and down their throat to their stomach while they are sedated.
The hollow center of the endoscope allows additional specialized instruments to be placed directly into the area requiring treatment. The mini camera feeds live video to a nearby monitor, allowing the doctor to more accurately navigate the procedure.
There are no incisions during endoscopic weight loss procedures, unlike during bariatric surgery and so the risks associated with these procedures are significantly lower and the recovery times are much shorter.
Who Is A Good Candidate For Endoscopic Weight Loss?
- Individuals Who Are Overweight
- Individuals need to have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or more in order to be considered for bariatric surgery. It’s likely that they’re also dealing with other health issues that are directly linked to their weight, such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. Some obese individuals have a BMI that is between 30 and 34 and would rather avoid significant health problems and keep their body mass index (BMI) from rising. They do not yet qualify for bariatric surgery but they are excellent candidates for an endoscopic weight loss procedure such as the Orbera balloon or endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty.
- Individuals Who Are Super Obese
- Some individuals who have much higher BMI numbers may not qualify for bariatric surgery due to health reasons and others may not wish to have a surgical procedure and would like to try a less invasive intervention for weight loss. At times, bariatric surgeons recommend an endoscopic weight loss procedure as an interim solution for patients who require surgery but are not medically able to undergo it because their BMI level is too high.
What Endoscopic Weight Loss Procedures Are Available?
There are a few different endoscopic weight-loss procedures to choose from that offer the opportunity for substantial weight loss. The patient’s starting weight and other factors will influence which procedure is the best choice for them.
Endoscopic Balloon For Weight Loss
Significant weight loss can be achieved with the Orbera® balloon weight loss procedure, which can be completed in less than 30 minutes.
The procedure is done as an outpatient and does not require a hospital stay. The patient is first mildly sedated, and then, while deflated, the soft silicone Orbera® balloon is lowered down the throat through an endoscope. Once adequately positioned, a sterile saline solution is injected into it until it is about the size of a grapefruit and then the endoscope is removed from the patient’s throat. The patient is observed for a short time and then released into the care of their friend or family member, who will drive them home that same day.
The balloon occupies approximately two-thirds of the patient’s usable stomach capacity, prohibiting them from consuming too much during a single meal and promoting satiety between meals. The balloon is left in the patient’s stomach for 6 months before being extracted, during which patients participate in a medically supervised weight loss program that lasts a year.
It is normal for patients to encounter moderate side effects of nausea or vomiting for up to a week after the balloon is placed and the doctor will prescribe medication to help ease these discomforts.
After six months, the weight-loss balloon is removed from the patient’s stomach using an endoscope. The balloon is drained until it is deflated and then removed through the endoscope and out of the patient’s mouth. The removal procedure only takes about 20 minutes and when completed, the patient will be released to be driven home by a friend or family member.
In addition to the balloon being placed in the patient’s stomach, the Orbera procedure includes 12 months of comprehensive support from a host of medical professionals. The support encompasses nutrition, diet, physical activity, emotional support, etc., and is intended to teach patients how to successfully alter their old, unhealthy lifestyle choices into habits that are healthier and will help them lose weight and maintain that weight loss.
Many patients have been successful in reaching their “goal weight” and maintaining it long-term using the Orbera endoscopic balloon for weight loss.
Endoscopic Suturing For Weight Loss
Another procedure that uses an endoscope and has proven safe and effective to promote weight loss is known as the endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG). It was recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of obesity. This newer procedure gained the attention of the FDA after the weight loss results during the clinical trials were twice as good as the predictions.
ESG usually takes around an hour to perform and offers the weight loss potential (or better) of gastric sleeve surgery. It is an outpatient procedure, so after a few hours of observation, the patient can go home to comfortably recover. There is no need to stay overnight at the hospital and ESG has an extremely low-risk profile.
During this endoscopic weight loss procedure, the patient’s stomach is reshaped into a smaller tube-like pouch and then held in place using around a dozen strategically placed sutures. There are no incisions and the entire procedure is conducted from inside the stomach. Most patients are back to their normal routine within a week and they do not typically have any restrictions or limitations on the activities they are allowed to participate in.
Patients can lose a significant amount of weight after an endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty weight loss procedure because their stomach is much smaller and can no longer hold very much food. This encourages portion control and also helps the patients feel full for a longer amount of time between meals.
Non-surgical ESG reduces the stomach by around 75% of its starting capacity, which is similar to gastric sleeve surgery; however, unlike gastric sleeve surgery, no part of the patient’s stomach is permanently removed with a scalpel. ESG can be reversed if needed.
Endoscopic Weight Loss Through Revision Of Bariatric Surgery
It is not unusual for patients to gain weight or not experience the weight loss they expected after undergoing bariatric surgery. When this occurs, there can be many factors at play, including the following:
- The patient has deviated from healthy lifestyle choices.
- Sometimes patients revert back to their old unhealthy habits, which causes them to gain back the weight they had lost after their initial surgery.
- The patient’s body has undergone some anatomical changes since the bariatric surgery.
- Another thing that frequently happens is that the patient overeats just a little, which causes their stomach to stretch out, making it possible for them to eat more at the next meal. So they overeat again and gradually their stomach stretches out a considerable amount and they begin to experience weight gain.
Sometimes, the opening at the stomach’s entrance (the stoma) gets a bit stretched out and allows more food to enter the stomach.
- The original procedure was not the best choice for that patient.
- Sometimes, the bariatric surgery chosen initially was not the best option for the patient or their stomach was not made small enough and needed to be reduced further.
These types of situations can be modified and corrected through the same process as an ESG without the patient having to undergo another surgical procedure.
Endoscopic Weight Loss Procedures Are Effective Tools
Endoscopic weight loss procedures such as the Orbera balloon, ESG, and endoscopic bariatric revision assist patients with some of the most challenging parts of a typical weight loss program. Helping them limit their food portions and not feel hungry all the time can help them focus on modifying the unhealthy behaviors that led to their condition.
Choosing to get the help you need is one of the best things you can do to ensure your weight-loss journey is successful. Next, selecting the expertly qualified professional who will perform your endoscopic weight loss procedure is vital for both the outcome of the procedure and your safety. Make sure the endoscopist you choose has the expertise needed to complete the procedure safely and deliver the results you desire.
Dr. Okeefe Simmons has performed more than 2,000 endoscopic procedures and is the first specialist in the United States who is triple-trained in gastroenterology, bariatric endoscopy, and obesity medicine.
At Simmons Advanced Weight Loss Solutions, our expert team is trained in the complexities of obesity and the complications that can come along with it. We combine motivational therapy, nutrition education, dietary and physical activity guidance, and endoscopic weight loss procedures to provide individuals with the tools they need to achieve safe and effective long-term weight loss.
Non-surgical endoscopic weight loss procedure choices have been desperately needed for years and they have thus far proven to be excellent alternatives to surgery.
If you are interested in learning more or to see if you may be a candidate for an endoscopic weight loss procedure, contact Simmons Advanced Weight Loss Solutions to set up a consultation today. We would love to help you become healthier and achieve sustainable weight loss.