New Stomach Folding Surgery for Weight Loss Holds Promise
A new form of weight loss surgery that involves folding the stomach into itself has produced excellent weight loss results in a pilot study, and researchers are heralding the procedure as an excellent option for weight loss treatment.
The new gastric plication procedure is appealing to surgeons and patients alike, as it uses a technique that is minimally invasive and yet dramatically reduces the patients’ stomach size. According to researchers, none of the stomach is removed during gastric placation, there is no stapling or cutting of the stomach, and no stitching used.
Done laparoscopically, the procedure requires no more than a half dozen incisions in the abdomen. The recovery period for this type of low-risk surgery is generally very quick.
There are other advantages to gastric placation: it costs less than more traditional types of bariatric surgery, it’s safer than the older methods, and it can be reversed. And without the risks inherent in cutting or removing stomach tissue, there are fewer of the commonly seen complications associated with weight loss surgery, such as infections and excessive bleeding.
Early results from the pilot study have shown that the stomach volume can be reduced by as much as two-thirds. And with a smaller stomach, patients will eat less food and still feel full. As a result, the new procedure may eventually become one of the more widely accepted options for weight loss surgery.
The pilot study involved 12 women and 3 men between the ages of 26-58, whose average body mass index (BMI) before surgery was 44.3, which is considered morbidly obese. After having the gastric plication procedure, the patients reported weight loss ranging from 23 percent, for those who had only minimal amounts of their stomach folded, to 53 percent for those patients who had considerably more of their stomach folded.
In terms of surgical outcomes, gastric plication can be compared to the sleeve gastrectomy, as it ultimately forms a long, thin, tube-shaped and smaller stomach. But gastric plication stands alone in that no stapling, cutting or removal of stomach tissue is involved. Instead, the large area of the stomach is actually folded into itself, and fastened with non-absorptive sutures. In addition, none of the intestines are rerouted in this procedure, it doesn’t lead to the various problems with malabsorption that can result from gastric bypass surgery, and no medical implants that require adjusting – such as those used in laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding - are necessary.
As with every pilot study, there are some disadvantages that emerge from a new procedure. The main issues associated with gastric plication are related to the lack of any long-term data and results, and the problem of getting insurance companies to pay for the surgery. At present, only a few bariatric surgeons are currently performing the procedure.
Researchers agree that the procedure needs further study to get a better understanding of the long-term weight loss outcomes. Nevertheless, gastric plication remains a very attractive alternative for patients who decide to have bariatric surgery.