Recent Developments in Weight Loss Surgery

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Gastric bypass surgery can be a successful weight loss procedure for many individuals struggling with excess pounds. Yet some patients are hesitant to commit to traditional weight loss surgery. One newly developed approach is bariatric arterial embolization (BAE). It’s a new, image-guided, minimally invasive weight loss method that, based on early research, appears to be a safe procedure offering similar results for patients.

How BAE Works

BAE works works by changing the endocrine function of the upper part of the gastric fundus. This is the part of the stomach where contents of a long, muscular tube connecting the mouth to the stomach (oesophagus) empty into the stomach. It’s this part of the stomach that’s responsible for appetite stimulation. BAE may also indirectly affect:

  • Absorption
  • Gastric motility (contraction of muscles that move food through the gastrointestinal tract)
  • Acid production

How Is It Performed?

A catheter is placed through the wrist or groin when BAE is performed. With image guidance, the catheter is directed to specific blood vessels in the stomach. Microscopic beads are then injected to reduce the blood supply to the part of the stomach the produces ghrelin. Often referred to as the “hunger hormone,” ghrelin signals the brain to eat. When levels of this hormone increase, it can be difficult to lose weight. The beads used are the same kind that have been safely used for many years in uterine and heart procedures.

Possible Benefits for Patients

In a study of 20 individuals ranging in age from 27 to 68 years of age who had the BAE procedure, all subjects experienced weight loss. No major adverse effects were reported. After a month, the average weight loss was 12 pounds (about 8 percent of excess weight). Patients who had a one-year follow-up lost an average of 15 percent of their excess weight. Additional trials and studies are planned. Patients may experience an 80 percent decrease in hunger due to changes in the production of ghrelin.

While BAE does have promise based on results reported by some patients who have had the procedure, it may not be the best option for individuals wishing to lose significant amounts of weight since weight loss isn’t as dramatic as with other options. Even with traditional gastric bypass and other procedures, less invasive surgical methods are increasingly being used to minimize the size of incisions and reduce recovery time.