New minimally-invasive treatment offers new option for gastric bypass patients

New minimally-invasive treatment offers new option for gastric bypass patients
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A new alternative to an invasive weight loss surgery called endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty is sparing patients time and money.

The minimally invasive treatment is specifically designed not for the morbidly obese, but for those overweight but struggling to shed those extra pounds.

"It became very obvious from the first patient that this is going to be a winner," said Dr. Christopher Gastout, a gastroenterologist.

The two-hour outpatient procedure constricts the stomach without surgery. Instead, a mechanical suturing device is fixed at the end of an endoscope that's small enough to fit through the esophagus. The flexible instrument threads through the body to the stomach where one row of sutures reshapes and the other forms the sleeve, allowing a patient to eat and feel full sooner, and for longer periods of time.

Dr. Gostout's clinical trial, which began more than 18 months ago, has resulted in major weight loss in ten patients. Cherish Grabau said she lost 50 pounds "fairly quickly."

"It's not just a simple, miracle cure or magic bullet," said Grabau. "You still have to do a lot of work, take responsibility and will power, but it was a great tool and can really change your life."

Unlike a gastric bypass, the procedure can be reversed, repeated and adjusted to fit the person's needs.

According to Dr. Gostout, "It gives us the signal that we can go back down. Tighten things up and re-modify the sleeve that we create. We can do that throughout the patient's life....Because the procedure is a lot simpler to perform, it's an opportunity for many, many more patients."

The new procedure is estimated to cost about $10,000 - one-fourth of gastric bypass surgery, though that could vary depending on the patient's needs.