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Weight loss surgery, now without the cutting

April 11, 2017 | UC Irvine Health
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Individuals seeking a weight loss solution can now choose a minimally invasive procedure that is a variation of the most popular bariatric surgery.

Vertical sleeve gastrectomy, in which a portion of the stomach is removed through small incisions, has been the preferred bariatric procedure for several years. The new procedure, however, accomplishes the same goals without any incisions.

Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty

The new procedure is called endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty.

During this procedure, a flexible tube called an endoscope is inserted through the mouth and threaded down the esophagus to the stomach. The endoscope is fitted with a mechanical suturing device.

Once the device is in the stomach, the physician manipulates the endoscope to apply stitches in the stomach to reduce the stomach size by resizing it into the shape of a sleeve.

This reduces the stomach size and contributes to weight loss by restricting the amount of food it can accommodate. Chang says it promotes a feeling of fullness sooner and for a longer period of time.

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A non-traditional option

Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty is an option for individuals who don’t qualify for traditional bariatric surgery, such as vertical sleeve gastrectomy or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. It’s suited for people with a body mass index between 30 and 35.

“Doctors who treat obesity have long searched for minimally invasive alternatives to traditional bariatric surgery, which requires cutting through skin and tissue to alter or remove parts of the anatomy,” says Dr. Kenneth Chang, executive director of the UC Irvine Health H.H. Chao Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center.

“No incisions are made in these new endoscopic procedures. The endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty is a good treatment option for those patients who are struggling with obesity and its associated health risks but were previously unable to have surgery.”

Other weight loss methods available

A number of other weight loss options are available through UC Irvine Health Bariatric Surgery Services, including:

  • Gastric balloon. During the gastric balloon procedure, one or two balloons are inserted into the stomach through the mouth with an endoscope and are inflated with saline solution. Left in place for six months, the balloons make patients feel full sooner. The procedure is an option for patients with a BMI less than 35.
  • VBLOC therapy. VBLOC therapy involves a pacemaker-like device that’s implanted in the skin of the abdominal wall. The device is linked to electrodes that are surgically placed through small incisions at the trunk of the vagus nerve. Periodically blocking vagus nerve signals reduces the desire to eat.

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