Cherie Settle of New Orleans, La., has a new body this Christmas. Her appetite is half what it used to be. Now 50 pounds lighter, she says “the weight was basically melting off.”
Settle’s surgeon, Thomas Lavin, MD, at Surgical Specialists of Louisiana, reduced the capacity of her stomach by making folds in the lining of her stomach wall, then tying them off with a suture. Watching him demonstrate on a towel, it looks exactly like a seamstress making pleats. After 15 or so of these folds, the stomach is made permanently smaller.
This technique, called POSE (Primary Obesity Surgery, Endoluminal) is not for the morbidly obese, who may need to lose 200 pounds or more. For those patients, Dr. Lavin uses traditional bariatric surgeries such as the lap-band, gastric bypass, or gastric sleeve.
Lavin says his POSE patients generally need to lose between 30 and 75 pounds. The advantage of this method is that it is performed with a scope that enters the stomach through the mouth. Apart from a sore throat, he says patients generally experience little discomfort in recovery and are back to their normal routine in a day or two.
At the end of the scope is a camera, so the surgeon can see what he or she is doing. There is also a clamp that can grab the stomach wall and insert a suture.
The scope used in the POSE method has been approved by the FDA for other procedures, but it is not yet approved for weight loss. That means these patients must pay cash, generally around $13,000. Lavin hopes after a few more years of using the POSE method there will be enough data available for the FDA to approve its use in weight loss.