Surgical weight loss is a method that is gaining popularity due to improvements in the medical field and increasing difficulties for patients with severe obesity to lose weight. “Bariatric surgery” is the term given to this type of procedure, which varies according to a patient’s needs and characteristics. Despite the fact that bariatric surgery is a more extreme method used in a medically supervised weight loss program, it is usually recommended for patients who struggle with obesity or morbid obesity and other associated diseases like hypertension and diabetes.
There is a range of different surgeries conducted to enhance weight loss, including gastric bypass, which is a sectioning off of the stomach, sleeve gastrectomy, where the stomach is narrowed to that of a long sleeve, or gastric banding, in which an artificial band is placed around the stomach temporarily to limit the amount of food consumed. Gastric plication is among the latest procedures developed to help obese patients and has already revealed encouraging patient outcomes.
The Gastric Plication Surgical Procedure
The gastric plication surgery is conducted through a laparoscopy, which means that small incisions are made in the patient’s abdomen, avoiding open surgery. During the procedure, which takes from 40 minutes to two hours, surgeons reduce the size of the stomach by folding the stomach’s lining inside itself. The size and capacity of the organ is reduced by approximately 75%, increasing the feeling of satiety faster and with smaller amounts of food.
Following the procedure, patients are usually required to stay in the hospital between one and two days and the recovery takes another week before patients can return to work. In addition to the surgery recovery, patients need to engage in essential lifestyle alterations to ensure weight loss, including a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
Advantages of Gastric Plication
The idea behind gastric plication is to include the main benefits associated with other surgical procedures without the disadvantages. Therefore, it does not involve a rearrangement of the digestive system like gastric bypass, the need for additional adjustment surgeries such as gastric banding, or the implanting of a banding device around the stomach. In addition, the surgery can be reversible, which is also true for gastric banding, but not for gastrectomy or gastric bypass.
Despite being a new procedure, still seen as experimental, the results of gastric plication are encouraging. A study entitled “Standardized Technique of Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banded Plication with 4-Year Results” published in July 2015 revealed that gastric plication is an effective bariatric procedure based on midterm results. The research team analyzed 202 cases over four years and concluded that the excess weight loss at one year was 57.84% and at four years 68%.
Gastric Plication Disadvantages and Risks
Similarly to other previous studies, this recent research did not report any death due to gastric plication. There is a relatively low risk of complications associated with the procedure, affecting 1 to 9% of the patients. The most significant side-effects reported include nausea and vomiting, which usually last about a week after the surgery. Other risks are the standard ones related to any surgery and general anesthesia, as well as separation of stitched areas and leaks from sutured areas, which may require an additional surgery.
Since gastric plication is a new procedure, there is still not enough information about the long-term effects of the surgery. A financial disadvantage is that insurance coverage is not available yet as well.