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

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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There is currently much more information on this procedure (Mayo Clinic) (University of Chicago). I am scheduled for an ESG (Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty) in early April. After many years of yo-yo'ing this is my 60th birthday present to myself. I can easily lose 20-25 lbs on my own, which I have done many times only to regain that and an extra 5lbs over time. This is my tool to continue from my 25lbs to an additional 45-70 lbs. I have already lost 19 pre-op lbs and I am excited for this journey. I didn't want to choose surgery for a 70 lb weight loss, this is why I am opting for an outpatient endoscopic procedure with less complications. There is also a mandatory minimum 1 year monthly follow-up with the team including a dietician included in the price. They don't just take your money and run. It is a full program. It opens up a world for obese patients with a 30 BMI to 40 BMI who do not qualify (per insurance companies) for bariatric surgery and those where full blown surgery is too dangerous. Not perfect for everyone, but with much research, my choice. But to answer your original question, No I would not choose surgery for 20 or even 70 lbs. Report
KHALIA2 11/14/2018
NO!!! Report
I suppose it could be argued as to how hard it was to lose said 20 lbs.To me it's like using a 12 guage shotgun to kill a fly. Report
Definitely not! My sister did the gastric bypass for loss of 100 lbs., failed to follow the doctor's orders about what to eat, and has regained the weight again!!!! Report
No and you just don't know what will happen with the stomach that was folded. Report
No way. The concept for this amount of weight seems to be a quickest fix, not retraining lifestyle for maintenance. Report
My breast tends to be a bit larger than they should be and I had stated, I would reward myself with a boob job. However, once I started lifting weights, the boob job was no longer needed. I've also accepted who I am in spite of. I believe in hard work and making it a lifstyle change. Report
I wouldn't bother with surgery to lose just 20 lbs. (or even my 80-lb. total goal, of which I've lost half the old-fashioned way.) I MIGHT, however, if I experienced difficulty losing that weight despite by best efforts. However, I WOULD consider surgery to remove loose skin and cellulite once I had reached my target weight if I could not get rid of them on my own through exercise. And I AM saving up for a badly-needed face lift once I've achieved my desired weight. Report
I definitely believe in the benefits of surgery, but I always feel strangely insulted when I hear things like this. Surgical intervention should be a last resort, when everything else hasn't worked and/or you medically need to lose weight or face serious health issues. It's for the morbidly obese, the men and women who are doing everything right but still can't lose, ect.

If someone told me they underwent that huge hassle for a measly 20 pounds? I'd question where their priorities are. Report
Sounds like the pre-gastric bypass, pre-lapband surgery to me. Stomach stapling isn't new - it's been around for more than 30 years although now it is done with an endoscopic procedure. I had a 400 pound coworker have this done in 1981. He lost more than 200# in fairly short duration. However it sounds really extreme to "lose the 20#" ... and I am sure if you are not morbidly obese that insurance won't cover it. Report
I would never do this. Losing weight is hard for me, because I don't want to be restricted in what I eat, but I read more stories where people have lost a lot of weight just counting calories and doing what exercise they can, and it is so inspiring! My niece had lapband surgery and it almost killed her. She could not hold anything on her stomach, and had to have it reversed. Luckily, since she was morbidly obese and the condition was life-threatening, her insurance covered most of it. My nephew died of pancreatic cancer from being morbidly obese and being addicted to diet soda. The doctor actually said that the Aspartame likely caused his diabetes and his cancer. He was 52 when he died. I'm determined not to get to that point, to lose this 30 lbs. before I get so sick that my children are burdened with me. It's hard, but I know I can do it with the support of people here on SP! Report
Even this doesn't really offer a short cut to lose weight. Doctors encouraged my sister-in-law to get lap band surgery to "cure" her diabetes. Yes she lost weight, but her food choices are still awful and she drinks way too much alcohol. i lost the same weight without lap band surgery. My best friend's daughter got the lap band and had nothing but trouble with it and it had to be removed as it perforated her stomach and abdomen. She spent months in pain and recuperating from the corrective surgery, all not covered by insurance. She was off work so long, she lost her job too. She initially lost weight but it didn't last and it was removed after 4 years. I saw a similar incident on an episode of Botched. A guy got the lap band and it eroded in his stomach too. Report
No way, I put it on and I have to take it off. There is no quick cure, gotta learn new eating habits w/out there is no way Report
If the insurance companies would pay for gym membership and maybe 6 sessions with a personal trainer and a Dietitian, THAT would be far cheaper than any kind of surgery. I cannot foresee the Insurance companies paying this kind of money for someone to lose such a little amount of weight where a good comprehensive fitness program and advice from a Registered Dietitian would be much more beneficial. Report
It would only work if you followed up with a proper diet afterward. That surgery is no guaranty that you'll lose weight, or that if you lose the weight you'll keep it off.
It would be useful for a diligent dieter who never feels full, which is often my issue. Personally, though, I'd rather spend the $$ on some lipo and a tummy tuck. Report
That is so ridiculous. Sometimes I've watched those "My 600# life" episodes and these people work for 7 months before the surgery to lose a certain amount of weight -- and they just keep on doing the same thing afterwards. I think they should do a study where they have a placebo surgery -- put both of them under anesthesia and let them both think they had surgery -- and then see who does the best for the next 4 months in losing weight. Report
No way, just no. I'm not judging anyone who does it though. I know the weight loss struggle is difficult. My boss had bariatric surgery two years ago. The first year, she lost an incredible amount of weight, over 100 pounds. This year, she put half of it back on. I really feel for her. I have the same struggle but we chose different paths to take the weight off. I honestly want to see both of us succeed. Report
All these negative comments about surgery.... you guys really have zero idea what you are talking about. Quick fix? Try again. It's a tool, nothing more than a tool, because some people can and do gain it back, so it is not a guarantee of anything. I am 5 weeks post-op, I'm doing everything I'm supposed to, and I'm on a plateau - just like everybody else goes through. The procedure I got was the sleeve. Is WLS for everyone? Certainly not, especially for a mere 20 lbs. If all I had to lose was 20 lbs, I'd lift weights, and if I was already lifting weights, I'd try cross fit or something. You have to do something different to get results. As for people sh!t-talking surgery... stop. Really. There's no quick fix, and WLS requires LOTS of discipline and more planning and counting and weighing than you know. And yes, it definitely involves SWEAT. It includes all the hard work and lifestyle change and mind change that people talk about.... and in addition, it involves making sure you get enough protein and water and supplements, making Dr appointments, and you're dealing with the recovery of major surgery.

Is WLS for lazy people? Is it the "lazy way?" Hell no! It's for COMMITTED people. Besides, the numbers don't lie. The success rate, even 5 yrs post op (roughly 60-75% success rate), are way higher than the success rate of "the ol' fashioned way" (5% success rate). I'm going with the better numbers. Report
20lbs? I didn't even consider surgery as an option when I had 50lbs to lose! Add another 50, and I still would have changed my lifestyle before considering it. It's not worth the risk, the pain, the potential complications, AND it doesn't teach you how to stay smaller once you get there. It's not just about weight, surgery doesn't teach you how to be healthier.

If I were going to get any weight loss related surgery, it'd be if I had a lot of extra skin that was uncomfortable, and couldn't be removed otherwise. Not an issue though since I didn't lose a lot of weight super fast, and I started while I was young enough for it to bounce back. Report
Most of the Dr's won't do it unless your 100 pounds over weight Report
Absolutely NO WAY. I suspect that many people opting for such surgery may find they regain even more weight afterwards as many will still have very unhealthy habits...

Also, the scars resulting from surgery are usually major...even keyhold surgery results in scars...that is NOT a good look in my opinion.... Report
No. There are too many unknowns with this new procedure. I need to/would like to lose 100 pounds. I considered lapband surgery, but, luckily in a way, my insurance would not cover the procedure.

I am learning that a healthy lifestyle takes commitment and constant discipline and follow-through. I keep stumbling, but I keep getting back up and trying again, learning more about myself each time, and gathering more coping tools, much thanks to Sparkpeople. Report
If I were going to blow $11K on weight loss, I'd hire a personal chef service to stock my house with the healthy foods I love. I don't actually prefer junk food to good food, it's just junk food is often easy. Report
No way! I can see for over 70 but 20. I lost 46 lbs in a little over a year by changing my job, a little exercise a day plus not as much junk food. I lost 33 lbs the first four months of my new job just because I now had stairs to go up to the bathroom and break room. Report
no way..... Report
No. I have a cousin that had weight loss surgery and she lost a lot of weight. Unfortunately, she put it all back on !!! Stomach stretches again. She is now doing her weight loss naturally ..... selecting right foods and has lost 35 pounds Report
No way, any kind of gastric bypass surgery could be dangerous. I would only consider it as a last resort, for example if I were over 300 lbs or more. Report
NO WAY! I didn't consider it when I had 100 pounds to lose. I certainly wouldn't consider it for 20 pounds. I have lost the first 30 and I can lose more with hard work and it will be much better for me in the long run. As a Nurse I have seen people who have had various weight loss surgeries, some lost a great deal of weight but many also had to deal with health issues related to digestion, inability to get enough of certain vitamins and minerals, and general gastric issues. For me it just isn't worth the risks. Report
According to height/weight charts, I should weigh 115 - 120 lbs. That's 150+ pounds to lose. Even so, I shut my doctor down every time she brings up the subject of surgery. I tell her that she should be focusing on helping me get my HEAD right so that my body will follow the good decisions I make. That's the only real success. Report
I would definitely consider surgery for 30-70 pounds. If I had all the money in the world. I have tried for years to lose the weight and no matter what I do. Always plateau to the same weight. Report
WOW, so many negative comments from people who don 't know of what they speak. The "sleeve" surgery which is a stapling of part of the stomach, leaving a banana sized portion, is a wonderful surgery for people with 50 lbs or more to lose. It was discovered that the part of the stomach that is removed is the part that produces harmonies that cause hunger and cravings, unlike the band and bypass Report
Wow, lots of comments from people who know not of what they speak.. This weight losy surgery Report
No I would not consider surgery. It is a better lifestyle I want to achieve and I don`t think you can get that through surgery.

I also heard that there is another quick loss gimmick coming out in the US - it is the food tube. You have a food tube put through your nose and wear it for 10 days - carry around your liquid food. Gives you 500 calories a day and says you are never hungry but can you imagine walking around with that - going to work etc 24/7? And what happens when it is removed - same old eating habits are there! Report
I certainly wouldn't use surgery to lose 20 pounds. I believe in eating "right" and exercise. I have had a lump out of my breast, a hip replacement, 3 hernia surgeries, and this past November my right knee replaced. I'm scheduled to get my left knee replaced as well. Thanks, but I don't think I'd have a surgery, I don't need, when I can lose the weight on my own. Report
No! It's true all surgery has risks. I had a hysterectomy several years ago & have never been the same since. I'm at the point where I almost wish I never had the surgery, I have so much scar tissue now. You really have to weight the consequences! Report
NOPE. plain and simple. Report
Wow. I would NEVER consider such a thing. Surgery always comes with risks, plus it doesn't help the person lose weight in the long run, keep it off. But my first thought was just horrifying shock that not only people with such little weight to lose are doing such things, but that doctors came up with it in the first place. Aren't they supposed to do no harm? This sounds pretty harmful to me. Report
Sounds like people with more money than brains... or taking the easy way out. If you don't learn to eat healthy, you'll just stretch your shrunken stomach just like so many gastric bypass patients. It's a short term fix & it doesn't work in the long run. Report
No, I would not have this surgery, even though at times I dream of having my excess weight magically drop off and then I think about the fact that it took a lot of time to put this excess weight on and it is going to take time to take it back off. In my humble opinion, you are taking a big chance with your life, every time you go under the knife or endoscope, unless it is absolutely necessary. I far prefer the "Spark Way to Lose Weight". Report
Scary that our society is so addicted to the quick-fix without change that people would seriously consider this. To be fair, I can't say no one ever should; a lifetime of yo-yo dieting is unhealthy, but just eating less of whatever put on all the pounds isn't guaranteed to make you healthier. Fewer chips? fatty fast foods? More of the same but less? I'll be I could think of 10 better things to do with all that money in a minute: travel somewhere I've always wanted to go, donate and thrill the socks off the local food pantry, get work done on the house, share it with my family, pay for a spay/neuter and wellness clinic at a pet shelter, buy a newer car for a friend who needs it, pay to have stuff done that my husband has no time for because of all the overtime he puts in, make inroads in paying off our house, enjoy alternative healthcare modalities I can seldom afford such as massage and acupuncture---well, two minutes. Anyway, in a nutshell, NO. Report
I'll have this surgery when I start believing in fairy godmothers and unicorns.

My health and well-being are damaged enough by the extra weight I carry. I just wouldn't add to the damage by having a surgery like this. And please, surgery to lose 20 lbs? You've got to be kidding. Who even considers that an option and why? Report
Absolutely Not. I would never consider under going this procedure to lose just 20-70 lbs. Even if I had all that extra money burning a hole in my wallet.

I'd rather put in the hard work and learn to have a healthy relationship with my food and how to properly care for my body than to have surgery done (even minor surgery) than try to resort these "quick fixes" that are not so quick and could potentially pose unknown risks and complications.

But to each their own. If someone else were to chose this option for their weight loss, more power to them! Report
Wow - this will not be a popular opinion, but here it goes. I have had two surgeries - a lap-band almost 5 years ago and last year a revision from that surgery (to remove the lap-band) and do a vertical sleeve. For those of you not in on the lingo - vertical sleeve = my stomach is now the basic shape and size of a banana. Very serious, very permanent.

At my heaviest, 5'2" and 235 pound (WAY chubby, fat, fluffy - whatever your word for it is), I was working with a trainer, running 5Ks and working up to running a half marathon. Except for a struggle with sugar, and yes, I still battle that devil, I did and do eat a healthy diet. And yet I was not losing and weighed that much. It was so frustrating - and thus the surgeries.

First and foremost - many of you are right. It is about making permanent lifestyle changes. But not everyone gets results with just that. I am living proof. And yes, you can "eat around" every kind of surgery they come up with. The surgery is a tool - not a fix. Just like every person in the world wanting to lose weight - it is a mental challenge as much as anything else.

Second - anyone who goes in to weight loss surgery thinking it is a ticket to the easy life and smaller sizes is delusional! I have to think about every bite that crosses my lips - every day, every meal. I HAVE to make sure I get in at least 60 - 80 grams of protein every day or risk quick health issues and hair loss (my vanity issue). This is not easy - again, this is a way of life. And I am beyond grateful that I have SparkPeople to help me track each of those bites.

Today, I weight 177 lbs with a goal of getting to the 140's. I generally lose about 1 lb a week but I am stuck on a plateau right now - JUST like everyone is at some point on this journey at some point.

That said, don't be too quick to judge someone who chooses the surgery route. While it is not for everyone and the decision is difficult and personal, surgeries like mine or like this one can be a great TOOL to have in your arsenal. The person who pursues it must make sure they can live with the new way of thinking and living - and take the time to do all the required psych evals and prep-work to make the procedure worth it. Report
This surgery might benefit specific individuals--say, unable to lose that 25 lbs and suffering from severe back pain--but for most people it seems like a bad idea. As Indy-girl writes so convincingly on this site, one must do the heavy lifting of changing how one relates to one's body and oneself.

Never mind the cost (no small thing considering how our country is being bankrupted by health care), never mind the risk of anesthesia--it won't be a long-lasting change without the psychological and behavioral work. The weight will come back--even if it doesn't, the person will remain alienated from her or his body. Report
I know of at least 4 people who have done this and the physical and mental change has been the same for all of these women. They have not stuck to a minimal exercise regimen. I have observed them eating things that their surgeon would not approve of. They have lost a lot of muscle mass and seem ambivalent to where they are now. I see very little on their part to manage stress and commit to lifestyle changes. 3 out of 4 have gained at least 30 lbs back if not more. The one male I do know has gained ALL the weight back. These individuals are ALL healthcare professionals. As for chronic conditions I think it depends on the will of the person, I have seen individuals whom all their lives have made excuses due to their diabetes, mental illness, addictions, etc. and have seen them lose weight. While there are others that are disabled but who has caregivers that ensure they are eating a well balanced diet to ensure that what physical and mental abilities they have left are preserved for as long as they can be. Report
they've been doing this surgery overseas for a long time...I was offered this surgery in Dubai by my Gastroenterologist, but said "no". I opted for lapband surgery (which was cheaper than this by the way) and am doing wonderfully...16 lbs in 6 weeks!!! Report
I think the article is good motivation to keep on sparking. No. Not only is the price tag to high, but the risk of surgery, and the fact that the patient might end up just stretching the stomach if better lifestyle choices are not made, ultimately leading to regaining the weight, I think this surgery is not such a good idea. Report