Losing weight can be a long and difficult journey when battling a lifetime of weight gain and obesity.
However, certain medical procedures like gastric bypass surgery offer certain shortcuts to losing weight. This invasive procedure can be alarming to those who do not wish to undergo traditional surgery. Dr. Reem Sharaiha of New York Presbyterian Hospital came up with an alternative method to deliver similar results without surgery for patients such as these.
“It’s like a glorified sewing machine,” says Sharaiha. “There are a series of sutures going from one part of the stomach to the bottom of the stomach all the way to the top. No scars, no cuts. You are asleep, like going to the dentist to pull your teeth out.” Sharaiha is a gastroenterologist and has worked with overweight and obese patients for many years.
They call it the ‘accordion procedure,’ and have conducted a study on willing participants to gauge its effectiveness. For the 90 patients in the study, the average weight loss as a result of the accordion procedure was over 17 percent of their current weight. BMI dropped by almost 10 points, going from a mean number of 40.7 to 32, and therefore removing the patients from the category of morbidly obese.
Similar to a gastric bypass procedure, the accordion procedure works to decrease the size of the stomach. However, unlike gastric bypass, the accordion procedure does not make any cuts. Instead, a doctor will sew stitches into the stomach in order to effectively tie off a portion of the stomach, leading to weight loss. The authors of the study also claim that in the event of a plateau in weight loss, they can simply add more sutures or stitches in order to make the stomach smaller and promote further weight loss.
Early results of the study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology have been found promising by doctors in this field, as it is less invasive and less expensive than traditional weight loss surgeries. However, they cannot claim that it will be as effective as surgery.
The procedure is only available in limited areas, as only 25 hospitals in the United States are offering this to patients. This is the most limiting factor, as well as the lack of insurance coverage. Although the procedure is more affordable than surgery, the cost still runs at about $10,000 to $15,000.
Additionally, doctors caution people to not rely solely on surgery or other procedures to continue weight loss. Instead, it is simply part of an overall healthy lifestyle, including healthy diet and frequent exercise.