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?