A new surgery to help lose weight

December 10, 2010 3:07:00 PM PST
The battle of the bulge is alive and well in the U.S.

Every year, Americans spend $30 billion a year on diets and weight loss products and services. Now, more than 200,000 people a year are going even further than pills or diets, they're turning to surgery.

The latest, an experimental stomach shrinking procedure that doesn't use bands, staples or implants.

With a lifetime of failed diets, and a job that keeps her sitting eight hours a 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," she said.

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.

"And that translates into easy filling of the stomach but eating less quantity of food," said Dr. Sunik Sharma.

The minimally invasive procedure is performed through several small incisions in the abdomen, or one cut through the belly button.

In a pilot study in India, with 30 patients, participants lost 40 percent of their excess weight within the first year after surgery, with quicker recovery and fewer complications.

Teresa's lost 23 pounds. She's ready to drop a lot more.

"I started at 313. I'd love to be down to about 150 pounds," she said.

Although at least two U.S. studies are now underway, Gastric Imbrication is still considered experimental and it is not covered by insurance.