By Amy Norton
THURSDAY, May 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Could people struggling with obesity make headway in their efforts to shed pounds without having to go under the knife?
New preliminary research suggests it’s possible: A non-surgical procedure may help moderately obese people lose weight — and keep it off.
Unlike standard weight-loss surgery, endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) requires no incision and no hospital stay. Instead, doctors thread a scope down the throat and into the stomach, then use a suturing device attached to the scope to cinch the stomach in — ultimately shrinking it to a banana-sized pouch.
The result is, “you eat less, you feel full and you lose weight,” said study author Dr. Reem Sharaiha.
Sharaiha and her colleagues at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, in New York City, were among the first to start performing ESG, back in 2013. She said they offer it mainly to patients with a body mass index (BMI) of between 30 and 40 — which puts them in the mildly to moderately obese category.
Standard obesity surgeries — like gastric bypass — are generally reserved for two groups of people: Those with a BMI of at least 40 (more than 100 pounds overweight); and those with a BMI of 35 or more, plus an obesity-related condition such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.
Studies have shown that, in the short term, ESG can spur a fairly big weight loss: At the one-year mark, patients have typically shed about 15% of their starting weight.
But not much is known about patients’ longer-term outlook.
The new study is the first to report five-year results, Sharaiha said. It found that at that point, patients were still carrying 15% fewer pounds, on average.
That’s not as good as the results seen with traditional surgery, Sharaiha said.
On the other hand, she pointed to the advantages of ESG: “It’s a simple, one-day outpatient procedure,” she said. “And it leaves no scar, which seems to be the major appeal to patients.”
The complication rates are also lower compared with surgery, according to Sharaiha. In an earlier study, her team found that only 1% of ESG patients had a complication, such as a perforation or “leak” in the stomach.