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Trends in Bariatric Surgery: New Procedures on the Horizon

  • An experimental bariatric procedure known as laparoscopic greater curvature plication has been received with enthusiasm by many U.S. bariatric surgeons. Different from other weight loss surgeries, it involves no devices or resection of the stomach; the size of the stomach is reduced using non-absorbable sutures. Early studies on the procedure show that patients can lose weight faster as a result of this procedure than from gastric banding.

  • In late 2010, approval was given by an FDA advisory panel to allow the Lap-Band Adjustable Gastric Banding System to be used on obese patients whose body mass index (BMI) was between 30kg and 40kg. Previously, the Lap Band procedure was only considered for patients who had a BMI between 35kg and 40kg, and who had at least one health condition related to obesity.
    This means that more Lap Band procedures will be performed in 2011, which will cause the number of bariatric surgeries in the country to rise accordingly. However, insurance companies may not be as enthused about offering coverage to people are fall into a less-obese category.

  • It is believed that in 2011 more insurance companies will offer gastric bypass insurance as well as insurance for other procedures, including the gastric sleeve surgery. This is due to the realization that these surgeries unquestionably have proved cost-saving – and life-saving – over the long term.

  • More and more people, especially those who have had bariatric surgery, are now coming to understand that weight loss surgery alone isn’t the magic answer to obesity. As a result, a new emphasis is being placed on the importance of follow-up care for bariatric patients. This intensified care will involve a multidisciplinary team of medical experts, including primary care physicians, gastroenterologists, and endocrinologists, who will work with patients to make sure that they are losing weight safely and haven’t developed any serious health issues. The new approach will be based on guidelines released in late 2010 by the Endocrine Society.

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