A new experimental stomach shrinking procedure is helping obese patients lose weight, without bands, staples or implants.
Every year, Americans spend $30 billion a year on diets, weight loss products and other services. Now, more than 200,000 people a year are turning to surgery.
With a lifetime of failed diets and a job that keeps her sitting all day, 54-year-old Teresa Flowers was ready to try something big.
"It's very frustrating to be obese and feel like your back is up against a wall and there's basically no hope,” said Flowers.
She became one of the first patients in the U.S. to undergo a new experimental weight loss surgery called gastric imbrication.
The procedure shrinks the volume of the stomach by 90-percent by folding and stitching it into a small, narrow tube.
Sunil Sharma, a doctor at the University of Florida’s Weight Loss Surgery Institute, says,
“That translates into easy filling of the stomach, but eating less quantity of food," said Dr. Sunil Sharma at the University of Florida’s Weight Loss Surgery Institute.
"The fact that my stomach is only ten-percent the size that it was, it makes me make a conscious effort to not eat, and to eat wisely,” said Flowers.
The minimally invasive procedure is performed through several small incisions in the abdomen, or one cut through the belly button.
Two weeks after having the surgery, Teresa Flowers already had lost 23 pounds.
“I started at 313. I'd love to be down to about a 150 pounds,” said Flowers.
Because the procedure is less invasive than other bariatric procedures, the cost is much lower.
Gastric imbrication costs $12,500, compared to as much as $16,000 for lap band surgery and $19,000 for gastric bypass.
At least two U.S. studies are now under way. Gastric imbrication is still considered experimental and it is not covered by insurance.