Bariatric surgery is becoming increasingly more common in the fight against obesity and for most is often a last resort when other weight loss attempts such as dieting have been unsuccessful.
The current two main types of weight loss surgery are gastric banding and gastric bypass. Gastric banding involves using a gastric band to reduce the stomach size so that less food is needed to make you feel full. A gastric bypass involves more extensive surgery to re-route the stomach to join a lower section of the intestine. By reducing the size of the stomach and bypassing part of the small intestine, fewer calories and nutrients are absorbed by the body. These procedures involve incisions into the abdomen which, in themselves, carry risk of infection, blood clots and, on occasion, extensive scarring. Patients usually need to have a prolonged stay in hospital as a result.
A new form of weight loss surgery called Primary Obesity Surgery Endolumenal is currently being researched and early indications suggest that it is potentially less risky. The new technique involves folding the stomach into pleats to shrink its size. The procedure can be done via a tube passed down the throat so is less invasive. As no incisions are made, researchers say that patients have less post-operative pain, a reduced risk of infection and no external scars.
The procedure involves the surgeon working through a tube which goes into the stomach and is then used to gather up the stomach wall and lining. A stitch is pushed through the gathered tissue. The process is repeated, making several folds to shrink the stomach and prevent the stomach from expanding.
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, says: “This is a very interesting concept and seems plausible. It is less invasive and more patient-friendly than other therapies — and that is something we really do need. Over the past ten years, there have been a succession of advances in bariatric surgery, and we have moved from the scalpel to the endoscope. This could be a very useful treatment.”
Amy Milner, an associate in the cosmetic surgery team at Penningtons Manches, said: “With the increase in those being eligible for weight loss surgery, it is encouraging that new techniques are being researched that will involve less extensive surgery and risk to a patient. Surgery that has gone wrong can have a devastating impact on a patient. We are currently dealing with claims for gastric band surgery patients with problems ranging from the incorrect insertion and function of a band to significant bleeding as a result of arterial damage during the procedure. Weight loss surgery should be a last resort after other non-invasive methods of weight loss have been tried as there can be life-changing risks to the patient if something goes wrong.”