Losing weight by any means is a difficult and long-term process. There are no shortcuts that provide lasting results if you are trying to lose excess pounds. Some people are convinced a failure to lose weight is just a lack of willpower, but there is much more to losing weight than simply wanting to.
Everything from your genetics to your job could be contributing to excess weight. The genes you inherited affect how much weight your body naturally carries, which will not be a surprise to many. What may be unexpected is that depression, stress in your workplace or home, hormonal changes, and even the friends you spend time with can all be working against you when you are trying to lose weight.
For these reasons, and in the case of certain medical conditions, some people find that diet and exercise are not enough to realize significant weight loss over the long term. Many people may have engaged in so-called yo-yo dieting, losing weight only to see it come back time and time again. If you have tried what seems like every diet and exercise plan in the book and haven’t seen success, it can feel like you have run out of options.
At this point, many people consider undergoing weight loss surgery. Gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, gastric banding (or lap-band surgery), and other surgeries are all potential options. The names of these surgeries may sound a little extreme, and for good reason. Weight loss surgeries like gastric bypass do achieve significant weight loss results for many patients. It is important to know they do so in ways that will change your life forever, and may put you at risk of serious complications long after surgery.
So, is there a solution between simple dieting and the last-chance option of having surgery to reroute your digestive tract? Yes. In fact, there are several options.
How Non-surgical Weight Loss Procedures Work
Today, most bariatric surgery is done laparoscopically with instruments and cameras inserted in very small incisions in the abdomen. While these incisions are designed to be as small as possible and heal quickly, they are not the whole story. In many weight loss surgeries, portions of your digestive tract may be removed or reconnected to one another to limit your body’s ability to absorb calories from the food you eat. The work done in these surgeries can take time to heal, and may leave you exposed to complications like scar tissue obstructing the flow of food and leaking developing from your new smaller stomach.
Non-surgical weight loss, on the other hand, avoids many of these potential downsides. Rather than a surgery performed through incisions in your abdomen, non-surgical weight loss procedures are done endoscopically. An endoscope is a small device inserted through your mouth and down to your stomach without needing to cut through any tissue. This means you have no incisions to heal from, and you only need to be put under twilight anesthetic for a brief period of time rather than the full anesthetic necessary for a surgery. In most cases, non-surgical weight loss can be performed as an outpatient procedure rather than a surgery that would require you to stay in the hospital overnight.
These endoscopic procedures have different goals, and some will work better for certain people than others. Depending on your body mass index (or BMI) and other health conditions, your doctor will choose which procedure is likely to help you achieve the best weight loss results in the short term and down the road for years to come. Some procedures are more effective than others, and which one is right for you may depend on how much of your overall body weight you are trying to lose.
The ORBERA® Managed Weight Loss System (Gastric Balloon)
Nearly all bariatric surgeries and non-surgical procedures work by reducing the size of the stomach. This prevents you from eating as much food, and reduces your body’s ability to absorb calories. Perhaps the simplest way to achieve this is the gastric balloon.
This procedure involves using an endoscope to place and inflate a silicone balloon inside the stomach. This balloon takes up space, leaving very little room for food in your stomach.
Unlike some more invasive surgeries or procedures, the ORBERA® Managed Weight Loss System is designed for individuals who are moderately overweight and are having difficulty losing weight through dieting and exercise. One of the benefits of this procedure is the balloon can be removed if necessary later. This is naturally not an option if you choose a surgery that involves removing a portion of your stomach.
The AspireAssist Device
Rather than reducing the amount of food you can eat, the AspireAssist works differently by letting you safely remove food from your stomach after meals. This non-surgical procedure, which may take as little as 15 minutes, is for people with a BMI of 35-55.
During this procedure, an experienced gastroenterologist inserts a small tube into your stomach, connected to a port on the skin. After each meal, you may go to the restroom and connect a small pump to the port, emptying some of the food you have eaten directly to the toilet. This prevents your body from digesting the food you have eaten, but avoids the need to eat such restrictive portions as would be necessary with other surgeries or procedures.
Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty (ESG)
This non-surgical procedure reduces your stomach size, but avoids some of the complications possible with laparoscopic surgery. ESG is performed instead through an endoscope. A suturing system is inserted into your stomach that allows stitches to be placed in the stomach, reducing the amount of food you can intake.
ESG is designed for patients with a minimum BMI of 30. It is also important to know that some individuals with stomach problems, such as gastric cancer or ulcers, and those who have had some kinds of prior bariatric surgery, cannot undergo this procedure.
Endoscopic Gastric Bypass Revision
There is another category of procedure, and that is for those who have already undergone some form of bariatric surgery, but have not achieved the results they were hoping for.
Bariatric revision is sometimes necessary when eating too much after gastric bypass causes you to begin gaining weight. Overeating can happen despite your best intentions, and can leave the stomach prone to growing larger and allowing more food into the stomach. This can increase your overall stomach volume, and end up causing you to absorb more calories than intended.
When this happens, a bariatric revision is in order. During this procedure, changes can be made to the new route your digestive tract was given during your gastric bypass to restore the size of your stomach to the volume needed to help you lose weight and keep it off for good.
Knowing What is Right for You
Bariatric surgery may not be the path for you. For some people, even a less invasive procedure like ESG or a gastric balloon like the ORBERA® Managed Weight Loss System may not be necessary. For some individuals, medical nutrition therapy could be the answer. What matters is knowing you have the advice you need to make the right decisions for your health and your body.
There are always risks, and costs, associated with any surgery or procedure, but if you have found it impossible to reach what we at NEW You Weight Loss call your “forever figure” through dieting and exercise alone, it may be time to consider taking the next step.
At NEW You Weight Loss, we are here for you with the advice, counse, and expertise you need. During the ongoing coronavirus crisis, we have even added a telemedicine option to our consultations for those who are concerned about their exposure to COVID-19. Whether it is to speak with us online or in person, request a consultation today to take the next step down the path to your forever figure.