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Thursday, August 06, 2009

UCSD develops new WLS method

It appears that researchers at UC San Diego have figured out a new way reduce the size of the stomach, without cutting patients open or creating an intestinal bypass.

It's only been tried on a handful of patients, but this new method involves inserting an instrument through the oral cavity and down the esophagus to fold the stomach into a smaller size, which would reduce food capacity without causing nutrient malabsorption. That means post-ops wouldn't be at risk of nutrient deficiency, reactive hypoglycemia, dumping syndrome or any of the other potential complications linked to gastric-bypass procedures.

The article also states that the procedure is meant for patients who are not yet morbidly obese. This reminds me of a conversation I had with a surgeon some years ago at an ObesityHelp conference. He said that as surgical weight loss was growing in popularity, there was increasing talk in the industry about how to reverse obesity before it became a life-threatening condition.

I understood his point at the time. It's easier to operate on someone with a BMI of 35 than 55. The smaller you are, the better your body tends to handle the trauma of surgery.

But surgical weight loss shouldn't be a Band-Aid for people who need to lose a few pounds. I have always believed that it needs to be a weight-loss method of last resort. Because only when it's your last resort are you willing to make the lifestyle changes necessary for long-term success. Then again, if this procedure eliminates many of the problematic side effects associated with gastric-bypass procedures, maybe the lifestyle changes aren't as necessary. But then if you don't change your lifestyle, how do you keep the weight off?