Simpler gastric weight loss surgery

October 5, 2009 5:22:54 PM PDT
There's a new weight loss surgery option available in Houston that doctors say is less invasive and allows patients a faster recovery. It could offer patients as much weight loss as the "gold standard" weight loss procedure, gastric bypass. Denise Abrego-Carter is about to undergo a new procedure to help her lose weight. It's called the single-incision gastric sleeve.

She said, "He guarantees me about 70-80 pounds."

The "sleeve" procedure is similar to the more radical gastric bypass. But unlike gastric bypass, the "sleeve" requires only one incision and is a less complicated surgery.

Dr. Sherman Yu, a Memorial Hermann bariatric surgeon, explained, "With this newer procedure people are actually losing just as much weight as a gastric bypass, but the risks are about half the gastric bypass because we're not rerouting any of the intestines."

Surgeons go through the belly button to do the surgery which allows for less pain, faster recovery and better cosmetic results. It was an attractive idea for patients like Rebecca Hammonds. She had the surgery in May.

"I've seen absolutely fantastic results. I'm so thrilled," she said. "I did not like the idea of having an implantable device inside of me so that's why I didn't go with the band."

Hammonds has already lost 70 pounds in about four months and is thrilled. But what really surprised her were the other health benefits she gained from getting the gastric sleeve procedure.

"The increased energy, how much better I feel," Hammonds said. "Before surgery I had a lot of hip pain and I'd come home from work and I could hardly walk, I was hurting so bad. And now I get home and I can deal with my children and play with them."

For the doctors, that's what makes it all worthwhile.

"People are losing, again, 60, 70, 80 percent of their excess body weight," said Dr. Yu. "But more importantly, really what we focus on is that their medical problems get better."

"I haven't been ill. I haven't been really sick," Hammonds said. "I'm losing weight and feeling great."

Dr. Yu and Dr. Terry Scarborough of Memorial Hermann are the only doctors in Houston performing the single incision gastric sleeve procedure. They are currently training other surgeons around the country how to do it.


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