Endoscopy is a rapidly growing subsegment of the bariatric world. In the spirit of minimal invasiveness and constant improvement, bariatrics, and weight loss, in general, have taken incredible strides over the past few decades. We transitioned from open surgeries to traditional laparoscopies with long-handled tools in the early 90s to robotic surgery not too long ago. Consequently, surgical weight loss has never been as effective or safe as it is today. However, the possibility of performing a restrictive weight loss procedure without needing external incisions is already here!
Endoscopy is the technique by which a tube is passed into the mouth, through the esophagus, and down to the stomach to perform the weight loss procedure. While it is performed under general anesthesia, it does not require incisions in the abdomen and can be completed in an outpatient setting with minimal downtime. Patients also have a lower risk of infection, pain, and blood loss.
The gastric balloon has been performed endoscopically for many years now. While it offers a degree of weight loss, gastric balloons have several drawbacks. New, swallowable, non-endoscopic balloons have also been introduced. However, endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty now potentially represents the gold standard in endoscopic bariatric interventions.
It is essential to mention that while endoscopic interventions have been approved in the United States, they are not currently covered by major insurance companies. Patients who wish to pursue this option must pay cash for the procedure, which can cost anywhere from $8,000 for a gastric balloon to $15,000 or more for a sleeve gastroplasty.
Endoscopic sleeves have the potential to offer excellent results, especially in patients that are focused and dedicated to their post-procedure care and lifestyle change. On average, patients can expect to lose between 10 and 20% of their total body weight after an endoscopic procedure.
Risks and Considerations
While endoscopy eliminates some of the most significant concerns of traditional bariatric surgery, it is not a procedure without risk. Rarely the endoscopic technique may cause damage to the esophagus. However, this is mitigated by employing a highly skilled and experienced endoscopist. Other risks will be discussed during your consultation.
Bariatric Surgery Corner is proud to have recently added bariatric endoscopy to the list of services offered by some practices in our directory. Please visit the “Find a Doctor” section and select bariatric endoscopy to find practices near you.