Would You Consider Weight Loss Surgery to Lose Just 20 Pounds?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  223 comments   :  79,604 Views

Last week I spent time in the hospital with my father-in-law after he had fallen on Easter and had to be admitted due to a fractured arm which for many of us would have required surgery but because of his age and surgical risk, his orthopedic surgeon stated that all we could do is allow time to let it heal on its own. Sitting with my father-in-law allowed me some time to catch up on some long overdue reading. While I do enjoy reading all I can about health and fitness, especially running, I do enjoy reading for pleasure as well. And as luck would have it the new addition of Glamour magazine was at my beck and call.

As I skimmed through the May issue of Glamour I was intrigued by the article titled, The Shocking New Surgery to Lose Just 25 Pounds. While many of us have heard of gastric bypass and lap-band procedures for those looking to lose a good amount of weight, I have never heard of such a surgery for those wanting/needing to lose less than 100 pounds. The POSE (Primary Obesity Surgery, Endoluminal) procedure, according to their website, is aimed at those individuals looking to lose between 20 and 70 pounds.

The Glamour article features a patient from Louisiana who dropped from 160 pounds to 128 pounds (32 pounds) in about 6 months time. The surgery known as POSE is performed under general anesthesia and takes about an hour whereby the surgeon basically folds the stomach lining over anchoring it in place with sutures. By decreasing the patient's stomach size, the patient should get fuller faster  which in turn decreases the patient's hunger. Because this procedure uses an endoscope (a tube that is run down the patient's mouth), you do not see any visible incisions which according to the POSE website, "should lessen complications, shorten the patient's recovery time, lessen hunger and bring long-lasting weight loss results."

The one advantage this procedure has over the others mentioned earlier is that the patient does not have to radically alter his/her way of eating. They are able to eat the same foods they did prior to this procedure just less of them. However, because this procedure has only been performed on 90 patients, according to the Glamour article, the long-term effects remain to be seen.

You may be asking at what price would this procedure set you back?

According to the Glamour article the surgery runs about $11,600. As to whether or not this new procedure is covered under insurance, according to the POSE website this "procedure is currently pending financial approval of insurance providers."

I took some time out to review the success stories on the POSE website. The three women featured who have had this surgery all lost less weight than I did and not any faster than I did. Featured patients are Megan who lost 21 pounds, Charlotte who lost 19 pounds in three months and Cindy who lost 50 pounds in 18 months.

These women did not see the drastic weight loss many of us have read about from others having the more invasive procedures. But in all fairness, they did not have a lot of weight to lose to begin with.The weight loss seems more in-line with what many of us have experienced doing so the old fashioned way-- tracking our nutrition and exercise, BUT at a much cheaper price tag.

After reading this article there are a number of concerns I can see about going to such an extreme to lose this amount of weight. For one, because the procedure has only been performed since 2009 and on fewer than 100 patients, do the doctors know what the long-term results will be? Can the patient learn to override his/her hunger and just eat for eating sake?

As many of us know, our weight is the result of many complex issues-- eating more than our bodies need, not moving our bodies like we should, but most importantly using food as a crutch to get through life when life gets tough. While this procedure can tackle the first issue, what about the other issues? Exercise and learning to manage stress have to be addressed and this isn't done in the operating room.

Secondly, while the surgery may be performed without any external incisions there is still a risk for infection as well as the risk for undergoing general anesthesia. Would you be willing to undergo such a procedure to lose weight that cannot be guaranteed to last a life-time? And what happens if you regain the weight? What are the long-term effects?

Lastly, after reviewing the website, I was not able to locate any information as to what dietary advice these patients receive once they go home. Because they do not have to alter the types of food  they choose to eat, just the portion size, I wonder if after having this procedure these patients suddenly find the need to eat a healthy balanced diet or just eat smaller portion of less healthy foods?

Doing a little math, I calculated that for the $11,600 price tag (not including travel expenses to New Orleans where this procedure is done), to lose 30 pounds would cost you in the ball park of $387 PER pound and no guarantee as to how long the results would last. For that price you could join a gym, hire a trainer, buy lots of healthy foods and not have to undergo such a drastic procedure for just a few pounds.

Would you have surgery to lose 20, 40, 60, even 70 pounds? Would you be willing to spend upwards of $11,000 plus travel expenses to have this procedure without a guarantee of life-long results?

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  • 173
    I don't think weight loss surgery is for me. I have a lot to lose, but the right way for me to handle it is through diet and exercise. I by no means think weight loss surgery is a quick fix. That's actually part of why it's not right for me. I don't think there are any quick fixes, and I have much to learn on this journey that I might miss doing it that way. Also, the risks are too scary for me. - 4/21/2012   12:33:10 PM
  • 172
    I wouldn't. This procedure sounds quite icky and I just couldn't do that to my body. - 4/21/2012   12:02:17 PM
    No, I would rather do it the "old fashion" way of eating better and exercising regularly. I'm too scared of the what if factor. What if something went wrong? I have a little girl that I need to be a good example for. What am I teaching her if I take the easy way out or get terribly sick because of an infection? - 4/21/2012   11:39:04 AM
  • 170
    It seems by these other comments that there is a segment of the population that is having a hard time due to their own personal issues (inability to exercise, health conditions, small stature) that they would consider the surgery. Personally yes, I think its kind of risky and drastic, but I want to offer that there are other changes you could make that are less risky for those who are "going by the book" but aren't seeing anymore weight loss. Especially those with 30lbs and less to lose.

    CHANGE YOUR DIET! For years and years I followed the rules and ate exactly how all the experts advised and though I lost a few pounds I plateaued just above my normal weight BMI. I exercise in the pretty high active category. Doing 5K's, triathlons and swimming on an adult swim team 8 hours a week, but I was stuck. Then a doctor convinced me that there is not one diet for everyone and I needed to find one that worked with my body, but most important I need to go plant-based. Yes, thats right, I gave up all meat, dairy, cheese, butter. I eventually found my rhythm in the "diet" and 2 years later am at my ideal body weight, just trying to tone up. I ended up giving up a few others foods that didn't agree with me including most oils and processed carbs.

    I'm not saying a plant-based diet is for everyone, but if you've tried everything else I wish you'd try this too. It's far less drastic than surgery and the rewards are much more plentiful to your overall health!

    Height: 5'9"
    Weight: 140
    BMI: 20.7
    Total Cholesterol: 118
    Blood Pressure: 110/60

    Plant-Strong Dr.McDougall-er and proud of it! - 4/21/2012   11:31:58 AM
  • 169
    No Surgery to lose weight, and no diet pills either. Just learning how to eat right, that way it will stay off. - 4/21/2012   10:52:02 AM
  • 168
    I had lapband surgery two years ago and am down about 40 pounds. Although that doesn't sound like much, I've been on steroids for most of that time due to a knee injury and am waiting until the time/insurance/wallet align for knee replacement. Since I've been almost totally sedentary in that time except for the walking I do at work, I shudder to think what I would look like if I had not had surgery. My calorie intake is roughly 1200 to 1500 a day and I have another 120 pounds to lose. Would I have had surgery to lose 20 pounds? Probably not. 30-40 pounds? Maybe. 50-70? Definitely! Don't presume to judge someone else's reasons for surgery, though! 20 pounds on a small-boned 5' woman is a lot of weight, about a fifth of her IBW in fact. That sounds like trifle to me but to her could be a major health factor. If, on the other hand, someone has the surgery for vanity issues, it's the doctor who ought to be smacked upside the head with a tire tool, not the Kardashian wanna-be having the surgery. - 4/21/2012   10:44:35 AM
  • 167
    Absolutely not! That's the quick fix! Not to mention the years of kidney problems, gallbladder problems, etc. Get your tail in the gym and restocked your fridge. - 4/21/2012   10:29:14 AM
  • 166
    I would not have surgery to lose 20, 40, 60, even 70 pounds. That's nuts! And I definitely would not be willing to spend upwards of $11,000 plus travel expenses to have this procedure without a guarantee of life-long results. I don't do unnecessary surgeries. I better be dying to decide to have surgery!
    - 4/21/2012   10:22:56 AM
  • 165
    Let me see. I could pay $12,000 to lose 5 pounds a month or work out regularly and feed my body wholesome nutritious foods without overindulging and lose that same 5 pounds a month. Since I work out at home or outdoors and eating properly costs less for me in money (it does cost more in time) than eating junk I'd probably save a couple hundred bucks a month so I'm looking at about $13,000 extra dollars in my pocket. I could do a lot with $13,000.

    That said I don't even have to go into the dangers of ANY surgery no matter how "non-invasive" and I don't have to discuss the feelings of empowerment I get from taking charge of one area of my life or how regular exercise really helps with my depression. If there was a simple procedure that cost $2,000 or less I'd have to weigh pros and cons but I think that since I don't really have much difficulty losing weight by just behaving sensibly* I'd still give the surgery a pass. - 4/21/2012   8:44:00 AM
  • 164
    Duplicate post and there doesn't seem to be any way to delete it. Sorry. - 4/21/2012   8:43:59 AM
  • 163
    No. An opinion but not my rationale.... I have seen too many who regain the weight because no lifestyle changes ensued. - 4/20/2012   7:12:43 PM
  • 162
    I have to be honest, I'd consider it. I lost about 20 pounds during my first year on Sparkpeople, but haven't be able to get the scale to move since. I need to lose about 30 more pounds just to get to a "normal" BMI. I do everything by the book -- exercise, keep food journal, eat healthy, treat myself once in awhile, try new exercises so my body doesn't get too used to its routine, don't use food as a crutch or a reward. I'm only 5'0 so my body just doesn't need that many calories to do its thing. I feel that if I could just have help losing 20 pounds, it would make such a difference. - 4/20/2012   3:35:41 PM
    YES! YES! YES! I have yo-yo dieted my whole life!! I am so sick of losing 30 pounds, putting them back on and losing them again! Been a cycle for me for more than 20 years. Now that I am 42 have a thyroid condition and am in menopause I only see things as getting harder and harder as I age. I work out 5 days a week, at least 45 minutes, and try to watch what I eat 6 out of 7 days and have spent the past year gaining and losing 5 pounds. Ya...I would most certainly have it done. - 4/20/2012   3:13:34 PM
  • 160
    Certainly not. - 4/20/2012   2:05:56 PM
  • 159
    Good grief, NO! Not interested in bariatric surgery, either. - 4/20/2012   12:12:35 PM
  • 158
    $580 a pound!! I can lose 20 pounds in a month and it'll only cost me around $80 for a new pair of shoes. - 4/20/2012   12:01:10 PM
    All surgery is risky and unless it is medically necessary.....stay from under the knife.!!!!

    I agree with a prior post that Americans have gotten very lazy and are always looking for the magic pill. For someone that it severely morbidly obese, Bariatric surgery maybe worthwhile and plastic surgery to remove excess skin for someone that has recently lost a significant portion of weight maybe appropriate. But for the majority of the population, understanding there body type (not everyone is meant to be a size 2 or 4 or 6) and not striving towards their idea of a perfect weight is a much healthier option.

    Use the money to find happiness and pride in you. Live a healthy lifestyle with exercise and learn to carve time for yourself. Everyone has a busy schedule and finding time is not always easy but it can be done. Finally, don't worry about those last 20 pounds.... - 4/20/2012   9:28:38 AM
  • 156
    I can't even believe somebody would spend money to get this done. I joined Sparkpeople for free. I have had to pay more for fresh fruits and veggies, a gym membership, and buying new clothes (because everything got too big). So I guess my weight loss was not free, but I'm sure I paid a lot less than for a risky surgical procedure. Guess how much I lost in just 6 months? I lost 45 pounds. I'm now down 54 pounds, all done naturally by eating less, healthier and moving more. I feel sorry for people who think that surgery is their only solution. It sounds like it is not even a permament solution either. If I didn't know about Sparkpeople and I had $11,000 to burn through I would at least spend it on one of those meal plans like Nutrisystem rather then put my life at risk going into surgery. - 4/20/2012   8:41:13 AM
    Having spent a year losing 40 lb and then most of the last three gaining most of it back I'd be tempted. But no, I wouldn't because I'm not convinced it's safe nor am I convinced the effects would be permanent. - 4/20/2012   8:29:14 AM
  • 154
    I have seen some people who have had some of the gastro surgeries and unless you are committed to a strict diet the person gains the weight right back. Some people have lost their hair because of malnutrition with the diet and then have to take supplements. It's not worth the risk or money to have surgery that might not work. - 4/20/2012   12:16:15 AM
  • 153
    I just had to take $14,000 to closing to sell my condo. I spent $14K on something that I didn't even get to keep - it's just gone. I could have bought a car with that money. If I could have spent that money on something that would help me to PERMANENTLY lose weight - I would do it. I would rather be thin than buy a used car - and that's the same price. How much of my life have I spent loathing my big butt and feeling like I can never stick with it? If it actually did work, I might do it. But since we don't know yet... we'll wait.

    Oh, and 20lbs - no way. Seventy pounds - that's substantial. - 4/19/2012   9:53:46 PM
  • 152
    I have thought about it but in the end I always choose to do this on my own without surgery. I have had medical issue surgeries and don't like it let alone have surgery just to lose weight. I find it necessary to find the willpower within myself to lose the weight. I feel I could lose that amount of weight on my own without undergoing the pain of surgery. - 4/19/2012   7:14:20 PM
  • AMS04161
    ams04161 i would not under go surgery to help me lose weight - 4/19/2012   4:14:17 PM
  • 150
    I cannot believe how lazy America has become. Whatever happened to being accountable for your lifestyle choices!?

    There is something to be said for the character that is built from struggling to accomplish something.

    I will never allow myself to gain the 60 pounds I recently lost, because I never again want to go through the process of losing it.
    It made me accountable to myself, and I will not forget that. It taught me to be tenacious, struggle through when I didn't feel like putting forth the effort, that I was strong enough to do anything I set my mind to! - 4/19/2012   2:32:36 PM
  • 149
    First, $11,000 is a lot of money, especially for a procedure that is not yet covered by insurance. For that amount of money, there are untold number of things you could do for your health - buy a home gym, sign up for lots of races, get a trainer, join a CSA, etc. Or - as previous posters have mentioned - save it for a great vacation!

    Second, I find it hard to believe that there is a *surgeon* willing to perform a procedure that is potentially high-risk for so little gain. Using an endoscope is no easy task - it takes a lot of skill and training. Couple that with putting in sutures - and the potential risk for infection - AND the risk that general anesthesia always presents. Not worth it, in my opinion - for the patient *or* the physician.

    Lastly, I also agree with previous posters that mentioned the emotional side of being overweight. Often, people overeat because of overwhelming emotions - how does this surgery approach that? - 4/19/2012   1:14:29 PM
  • 148
    There is no way I would pay $11,000.00 for this procedure, I can see the bi-pass if you have a lot of weight to lose and I know a few people that were really successful and thankful for it, but for the 10-20 lbs I would like to lose, I'll do it the old fashon way and save my 11k for a trip to Bali :) - 4/19/2012   1:00:23 PM
  • 147
    What good would that do?? Would they even perform surgery just for 20 pounds? Probably not unless my life depends on it. - 4/19/2012   10:39:30 AM
  • 146
    If I had the money, or if I could convince the insurance company that this was essential to my mental health (which it IS) - I would do it in a heartbeat. But it is NOT to lose weight anymore - it is to tighten the skin on my arms and thighs so I could again be proud of living in this world. When I had the extra weight, I hid it under long, flowy tops (like Bea Arthur in Maude and the Golden Girls) every day and because I did it so carefully, most people never knew I had gained weight. NO ONE ever saw the muffin top I knew was there! But I've lost 40 pounds, and my figure looks fine in clothes - even tight tops, belts and leggings. I SO yearn for the ability to wear tanks and sleeveless things, shorts and proudly walk in bathing suits. This is NOT a matter of cellulite. It is loose skin and I can't bear to look at it. Would I have surgery for it - absolutely! I pray someday to have the money - while I still basically look good enough and young enough for it to matter. It sure matters now. For ME - no one else. - 4/19/2012   10:32:58 AM
    ahh, not on your life - 4/19/2012   10:00:54 AM
  • 144
    HELL NO! - 4/19/2012   9:06:04 AM
    No, I know a few people who have had it done. They lost weight but gained it back. Surgery is not a fix. Lifestyle change is!!!! - 4/19/2012   8:48:01 AM
  • 142
    No i wouldn't have the surgery, many times I have said " I am going to have the gastric bypass" because I am frustrated with my weight loss. I know that it has to be a lifestyle change and not a quick fix. I have several friends that have had the surgery and know each one had different results due to their commitment to a lifestyle change. Some maintained the weight loss, some gained and even 1 loss her life to the complications. I also am a nurse in a rehab center and have taken care of patients due to some of the complications, I know it is not the quick fix that many people think, but everybody has the right to make an educated decision that is right for them. - 4/19/2012   6:49:48 AM
  • 141
    No way! All surgery comes with risks and should only be undertaken when necessary. When they have lost the 20lbs they still have to maintain a healthy lifestyle to maintain it. Why not just start the healthy lifestyle from the start?? - 4/19/2012   6:14:57 AM
  • 140
    I wouldn't but can understand why others might. - 4/19/2012   5:58:13 AM
  • 139
    NO WAY... - 4/19/2012   2:11:07 AM
  • 138
    I don't like surgery unless it is absolutely necessary due to scar tissue problems. I'm sure I would have scarring problems internally and would prefer not to mess about with my innards! - 4/19/2012   12:45:30 AM
  • 137
    No! - 4/18/2012   11:00:12 PM
    NO! NO! NO! - 4/18/2012   9:54:29 PM
  • 135
    I'm with you, Popeye Turtle. Not only NO, but H_LL NO!!!!
    Renie - 4/18/2012   9:45:42 PM
  • 134
    Not only NO, but Hades NO!

    There is no such thing as minor surgery. Major surgery basically means you have to sign your life away, and unless it is an egregious "Opps!", what you get is what you get.

    For those of you even considering this kind of thing, take it from a guy born in the first half of the last century - Surgery should be your final option when everything else has failed. And I certainly wouldn't put lack of willpower in that category.

    For that kind of money, you could go to a Psychological therapist who specializes in Hypnosis every week for 39 weeks, about the same number of months it takes to have a baby - and it would be a heck of a lot less uncomfortable and painful.

    I've always voted 'Nope' on "Elective Surgery", and with the lack of follow-up studies for side-affects and with this surgery done on so few subjects ... in my mind this is still experimental.

    People are going to do what people are going to do, but if either my DIL or granddaughter was overweight (which neither is even close to because of their high activity levels), I would do everything, no, anything in my power to get them to see the negatives of this surgery.

    I would certainly "give" them a subscription to Spark (chuckle), and give them my own personal tests for comprehension. - 4/18/2012   9:27:41 PM
  • CLEO27
    Nope, I'd much rather do it the natural way. I'll worry about surgery once I reach my goal weight and got excess skin. - 4/18/2012   8:57:54 PM
  • 132
    I think I would. If the surgery would make me uncomfortable when I ate less than it does now, I'd give it a try! I wouldn't be able to afford it, but my BMI is ridiculous and I exercise alot already. I just can't seem to shed the pounds! I tend to overeat and don't seem to have the will power to just eat healthy food. Maybe this would help? - 4/18/2012   8:23:49 PM
  • 131
    For that kind of money I would go to the BL ranch and have fun while I was losing it! That would get me 4 weeks. I bet I would lose 20 doing that. - 4/18/2012   7:27:32 PM
    As someone who has had a lapband for 7 years I can not believe that this is a good thing. I know the fustration of dieting and not losing the weight fast enough as all of us have experienced unless you alter your eating style and learn to exercise you will not be successful. even though I had the surgery I still have to make sensible eating choices everyday and exercise. The only quick fix is to adapt a healthy lifestyle that you enjoy and stick to. Looking back I wish I had found SPARK People before the surgery. I wonder if the candidates have to go through the 20% weight loss psychological testing and nutrition classes I had to before my surgeon would schedule the lapband. I am having trouble with the math 20 lbs to lose and having to lose 20% to have the surgery aren't you at your goal basically before you start? - 4/18/2012   6:52:56 PM
  • 129
    Nope I most defintiely would not. There are too many potential complications from such elective surgery, and too many potential benefits from an approach like SparkPeople. And I do understand the ongoing struggle with the "last 20 pounds" -- in fact, I've been playing with those last 20 for WAY too long now! -- Maryjean - 4/18/2012   6:48:37 PM
    I would discourage just about anyone from getting weight loss surgery. I work in a hospital that does many of these procedures, and they also fix many of the complications. Do you know how scary it is to see people in their 30's who have to be on IV nutrition for months or years because their stomach is so badly damaged from surgery? In just a couple years, I have seen young people die within a week of getting a gastric bypass. I've lost over 120 lbs with diet and exercise. It can be done without risking your life! - 4/18/2012   6:38:37 PM
    No, I got to goal weight through my own efforts, but I have other health problems which behavioral measures cannot address. They are costly...and I would happily apply that sum toward treating them! - 4/18/2012   6:35:15 PM
  • 126
    If I had $11000 to spend on health, I can think of LOTS of better, more long-term, and safer things to do with it than surgery. I like ROLLSTAR's suggestion of hiring a chef!

    Seriously....that's just ridiculous, the surgery, I mean. No, I wouldn't. Change has to come from within--and I don't mean within my belly, large, small, sutured, or not. - 4/18/2012   6:11:43 PM
  • 125
    First of all, all the people saying, "well I lost 20 lbs in 2 months so this is ridiculous" have a lot more than 20 lbs to lose. Of course it's easy for obese people to lose weight. However, when you get down to the weight I am at, where you only have 20 lbs left, it's next to impossible to lose it. I mean you have to really eat perfectly and exercise twice a day to lose it, and then if you get injured or whatever, it comes right back in the blink of an eye. I am not saying I would ever get the surgery (I would rather get a tummy tuck, actually), but I have been struggling with being just 10 to 20 lbs overweight for 6 years and being on spark for 4 of those years. It is NOT just a matter of eating right and exercising. It's a matter of seriously getting extreme. - 4/18/2012   5:43:50 PM
  • 124
    I think you could probably even hire a personal chef to cook you fresh, healthy portion controlled meals for that price. That's what I really want. :)

    I saw something on Pinterest the other day that I think applies here. It said, "I will do absolutely ANYTHING to lose weight (except eat healthy and exercise)." I understand that some people have mobility issues that make it difficult to exercise, even so, nearly everyone can do something to get their heart rate up. But EVERYONE, EVERYONE can eat healthy. There's no excuse for not doing that. If you haven't been successful in weight loss so far, this surgery doesn't sound like it would *really* fix it, either. My stomach always tells me I'm full and I keep eating... so how would that be different if my stomach were smaller? It would just tell me I was full sooner, but I'd still keep eating. All the surgery is doing is helping to make you eat less. You can do that for free. - 4/18/2012   4:51:09 PM

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