“This new endoscopic procedure offers my patients a treatment option for post-weight loss surgery weight regain that they’ve never had before,” said Eddie Gomez, M.D., bariatric surgeon at Jackson South Community Hospital. “The potential advantages are significant: lowered risk of infection, limited post-operative pain, no visible scars and faster recovery times. Patients can usually go home the same day of the procedure, which is a substantial improvement over the lengthy recovery times associated with traditional surgical procedures.”
Several studies suggest the majority of patients regain significant weight after weight loss surgery. A common cause includes gradual stretching of the stomach pouch or outlet. When weight loss surgery procedures are performed, the stomach and outlet are made very small to reduce the amount of food consumed and slow the passage of food through the digestive tract. Together, this helps patients feel fuller longer after eating just a small amount. As a result, weight loss occurs from a dramatic decrease in calories. Many clinicians have shown when the stomach pouch and/or outlet gradually stretch; it takes longer for the patient to feel full. As a result, patients start eating larger meals and may begin to regain weight.
Until recently, there weren’t many options for patients like Mercedes Roberts. Ten years ago, Roberts weighed 250 pounds. She had weight loss surgery and lost 90 pounds, but regained more than half of it. She was also living with a hiatal hernia — a complication that caused few surgeons to want to take her case.
Mercedes, a 42 year-old fleet service clerk for American Airlines, mother of two and a recent graduate of Florida International University, slept in a recliner because of acid reflux that was so bad that she worried it may choke her.
She stopped eating and her body went into starvation mode, which meant that every time she ate, those calories would turn into instant fat.
She was desperate for help — and Dr. Gomez offered a solution. Using new endoscopic devices that work with a standard endoscope, Gomez reduced the volume of her pouch. The result: Mercedes lost 45 pounds and no longer suffers from acid reflux.
This procedure is performed using a small flexible endoscope and specialized devices that allows sutures to be placed through the endoscope. The scope and suturing devices are inserted through the mouth into the stomach pouch the same way as a standard endoscope. Sutures are then placed around the outlet to reduce the diameter, typically from the size of a silver dollar to the size of a dime. The same technique may then be used to place additional sutures in the stomach pouch to reduce its volume capacity.
“I thought I was alone in having to suffer with hiatal hernia and had no options until I heard about the new endoscopic techniques,” Mercedes said. “The procedure not only fixed the hernia but allowed me to lose the extra weight and regain control of my life with no scarring, drastically less pain and shorter recovery time than my initial weight loss surgery. I was able to return home to my family the same day and was back to my normal activities almost immediately.”