Weight Loss Procedures Without Surgery
If you’re looking to lose some pounds fast — and maybe even keep them off forever — there’s an endoscopy procedure that can help you do it without the need for major surgery. It’s called the gastric balloon, and it’s basically a gizmo that goes into your stomach through the mouth (with sedation) so that it fills up with air. Once inflated, the balloon restricts how much food passes through at one time, which in turn causes you to feel fuller faster and eat less, leading to significant weight loss over time. The process is similar to other popular devices like the Zeltiq ultrasound-assisted fat removal system and the AIDA Diabetes Management System.
The difference here is that instead of sending a bunch of electricity through your body via wires, this device takes advantage of a simple electrical charge to make the balloons inflate. That means no more nasty side effects from having metal plates surgically implanted inside your body. And since the procedure involves only placing a small piece of plastic inside your stomach, you’ll also avoid any risks associated with general anesthesia. This procedure has been approved by the FDA as well as the American Society of Bariatric Physicians; it’s currently being used in hospitals around the country.
Another device gaining popularity for helping patients shed pounds is known as the AspireAssist sleeve. The AspireAssist is actually two separate pieces: One part is a pump system that helps inflate the sleeve when you use it, while the other part is the actual sleeve itself. When someone inserts the sleeve into their abdomen, a tiny incision is made on the outside of the skin. Then a tube is inserted into the opening and connected to the pump, which pumps fluid through the sleeve until it reaches a valve within the sleeve where it connects to an inflation port. At this point, the fluid moves through the sleeve, expanding its walls and filling it up with air. Inflation of the sleeve happens automatically once the fluid is flowing through the sleeve. There are several different models available, including ones designed specifically for men.
Like the gastric balloon, the AspireAssist sleeve is completely noninvasive. Unlike most surgical methods, however, it doesn’t require a hospital stay. Instead, patients are typically sent home after they wake up from the sedation, usually feeling fine afterward. Afterward, patients simply leave the sleeve in place for anywhere from six months to two years before removing it themselves. Because of this, the device isn’t widely accepted yet, though it was recently cleared by the FDA for long-term effectiveness studies.
A third device that’s getting a lot of buzz lately is the Endoscopic Gastric Sleeve, or EGS. Like the AspireAssist, this device works by inflating a pouch within the stomach that holds about 80 percent water. Unlike the AspireAssist, though, the EGS relies entirely upon a catheter placed within the sleeve to pump fluid through it. Patients insert a flexible scope (also known as an endoscope) down their throats until it touches their bellies. Doctors then pass a thin tube through the scope all the way into the patient’s stomach. They then attach another tube to the far end of the scope and send some sort of liquid (typically saltwater) through the tube to move the fluid around within the sleeve. When the liquid hits the bottom of the sleeve, it pushes out the top of the sleeve, making it expand outward.
While the EGS seems very similar to the AspireAssist, there are still important differences between these two devices. For instance, the EGS is meant to be permanent, while the AspireAssist needs to be removed every few months. Also, unlike the AspireAssist, the EGS requires a hospital stay, so patients have to spend the night at the doctor’s office or clinic. Finally, because the EGS uses a moving object to push the fluid through the sleeve, it’s considered slightly riskier than the AspireAssist, which uses a static pressure source to inflate the sleeve. The EGS is currently awaiting FDA approval.
All three of these products are still relatively young, so doctors have yet to fully study their effectiveness and safety. But if you’ve decided that you want to get serious about shedding those unwanted pounds, these options might be just what you’re looking for.
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