Weight Loss Surgery Without Scars? Not So Fast...

MakenzieR on 18 Mar 2011 at 12:00am

“Scar-less” bariatric surgery won't be available any time soon. The sounded-so-promising, now-nixed procedure is called transoral gastroplasty. Instead of being cut open, patients would have a stapler inserted through the mouth to shrink the stomach. No scars.

As reported by Andrew Pollack at The New York Times:

Device makers hope that by going in through the mouth using an endoscope, they can eliminate the infection risk from incisions, and possibly the need for general anesthesia, thereby lowering the current $12,000 to $30,000 cost for bariatric surgery. If weight loss could be made less forbidding and less expensive, many more people might undergo such procedures, including people who are less than severely obese. Even though more than 20 million Americans are heavy enough to qualify for bariatric surgery, only about 200,000 have the operation each year.

“There’s definitely a need for something for the other 99 percent,” said Hugh Narciso, chief executive of Baronova, whose experimental device slows the movement of food out of the stomach.

Dropping a stapler down your trachea is only one of the new ideas being tested.

  • To feign fullness, there is an ingestible balloon that inflates in the stomach, or an appetizer pill whose particles “swell to hundreds of times their size…by absorbing water, then eventually shrink and are excreted.”
  • One may also be able to have an orally-inserted tube that lines the small intestine so passing food cannot go through the intestinal wall.

Besides sounding a bit uncomfortable, will these procedures be Worth It? None have shown significant enough weight loss to be approved for consumers. While traditional, invasive bariatric procedures involve a long, expensive and challenging journey, the RealSelf gastric bypass community reveals significant satisfaction with the results. 96% regard their gastric bypass as worth it.

A cheaper and less-invasive option to bariatric surgery would be great. But regardless of price, any stomach-altering procedure is going to require a drastic lifestyle change.

Photo credit: Satiety Inc.