No-cutting weight loss surgery, an alternative to meds

Reporter: Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:

Ballooning beltlines are a huge problem, with more than 32% of Americans weighing in as obese. It is fueling the demand for injectable weight loss drugs, but that route is not for everyone.

A newly approved medical option is now available in Southwest Florida that shrinks the stomach without cutting.

As far back as she can remember, Carrie Clark has battled the bulge.

“I’ve always been overweight, since childhood. And in adulthood, I would lose weight just to gain it back,” Clark said.

More than once, the Port Charlotte woman dropped a hundred pounds, starving on restrictive diets. She even tried the medical weight loss option. “As I came off the injections, I gained it all back.”

After a high of around 300 lbs, Clark had seen the slimmed-down version of herself and was determined to find a more permanent solution.

We’re suturing it from the inside through the mouth without any incisions, making the stomach smaller, non-surgical. Dr. Steven Siegal, Fort Myers

The most intensive weight-loss method, the one with the most staying power, is surgery, minimizing the stomach or rerouting the digestive system. It is effective, but not everyone is cut out for it.

“Some people just will flat out say ‘no’ to surgery. The idea scares them,” said Fort Myes bariatric surgeon Dr. Steven Siegal. He showed WINK News medical reporter Amy Oshier a new option he is offering patients in SW Florida. “I think this opens up a whole opportunity for a weight loss procedure.”

It is a bariatric procedure that doesn’t involve any cutting.

“We’re making the stomach smaller and reducing the size. But as opposed to cutting and surgically removing part of the stomach, we’re suturing it from the inside through the mouth without any incisions, making the stomach smaller, non-surgical,” Siegal said.

The technique is made possible by a flexible, multi-purpose scope Dr. Siegal demonstrated.

“We use endoscopy, which is a camera that goes down the mouth and into the stomach, and it has a suturing device that’s attached to the tip of the scope. And we’ve been using it for other applications in the GI tract. And more recently, we’ve extrapolated it to weight loss procedures.”

The procedure is called Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty. Nothing is removed and the sutures stay in place, cinching the stomach.

Clark lost 44 lbs by her three-month checkup. “My goal is not necessarily to lose a certain weight, it’s just to feel healthy and confident and not embarrassed to do things.”

“The end goal is not only weight loss,” Dr. Siegal said. “People can feel better and look better and also overall health and longevity.”

Using the endoscope for bariatric purposes is now FDA-approved. At this point, it is not covered by many insurance plans. But the procedure equals about a year on injectable weight loss drugs if they are not used by prescription.

This option may be a satisfying solution for people who struggle with excess pounds.

For more information about the procedure, click here.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.