"I think if I gain another five pounds, " said a friend, who was about 15 pounds overweight told a group of us over dinner, "I will be eligible for the new weight-loss surgery." She was helping herself to a piece of luscious chocolate cake that the rest of us were trying to avoid eating.
"Don't you have to be at least l00 pounds overweight before you can have bariatric surgery?" I asked.
Apparently not. She described a suddenly popular new surgical technique that shrinks the stomach by folding the stomach lining and stitching it in place. Patients who want to lose as little as 25 pounds are going through the procedure because although it requires general anesthetic, there is no cutting of skin or muscle. As some of us gagged, our friend told us that the procedure called POSE, or Primary Obesity Surgery Endoluminal, uses an endoscopy tube that passes through the mouth and esophagus to reach the stomach and then makes tummy tucks.
POSE is so new that it has not gone through rigorous clinical testing to see whether it is more successful than other surgical techniques in producing permanent weight loss; nor has it received FDA approval. Nevertheless, people who want to be thin are using this procedure to get rid of weight that does not respond (so they say) to conventional diets and exercise. Our friend said that she had considered liposuction to get rid of some of the fat she could not seem to diet of,f but the stomach-shrinking technique seemed a better option. "This way I will never be able to eat very much, so losing weight and keeping it off will be easy."
Is POSE the so-called magical weight loss option every overweight person has been seeking? Is its relatively quick and non-surgical procedure the answer to a permanent way of keeping off weight? It is much too early to tell. Other surgical procedures to reduce the amount of food that can be swallowed and contained in the stomach have been effective in producing massive amounts of weight loss in the first year or so after the procedure. Yet long-term outcomes are inconsistent. Patients have found that if they consume high-calorie liquids food like melted ice cream, or gradually introduce large amounts of food into their stomachs, they can enlarge its size. Eventually, they are able to eat enough to regain the weight lost during the first year after the operation.