HOUSTON (November 11, 2013)

Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center is the first hospital in Texas whose affiliated physicians can now offer a groundbreaking endoscopic procedure to repair stomach pouches and outlets in patients who are regaining weight after their initial weight loss surgery.

“This new procedure offers my patients a treatment option for post-weight loss surgery weight regain that they’ve never had before,” said Dr. Erik B. Wilson, medical director of bariatric surgery at Memorial Hermann-TMC and chief of elective general surgery for the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School. “The potential advantages are significant: lowered risk of infection, limited post-operative pain, no visible scars and faster recovery times. Patients can usually go home the same day of the procedure, which is a substantial improvement over the longer recovery times associated with traditional surgical procedures.”

Studies suggest that when patients regain significant weight after their initial gastric bypass, it is often caused by the gradual stretching of the stomach pouch and outlet. When the standard-of-care weight loss surgery procedures are performed, the stomach and outlet are made very small to reduce the amount of food consumed and slow the passage of food through the digestive tract. Together, this helps patients feel fuller longer after eating just a small amount. As a result, weight loss occurs from a dramatic decrease in calories. Many clinicians have shown when the stomach pouch and/or outlet gradually stretch, it takes longer for the patient to feel full. As a result, patients start eating larger meals and may begin to regain weight.

Until recently, there weren’t many options for patients like Jeanette Elias, who began to regain weight after her gastric bypass surgery back in 2004. Within a year of the procedure, Elias, 57, had lost 90 pounds and felt like she was finally looking and feeling great. But then the pounds slowly started to creep back. After getting down to 165 pounds, Elias had regained another 20 and was incredibly frustrated. That’s when Dr. Wilson offered another possible solution.

With new endoscopic devices that work with a standard endoscope, surgeons at Memorial Hermann-TMC can reduce the volume of an enlarged pouch and the diameter of the outlet to their original post-operative proportions. This minimally-invasive procedure allows sutures to be placed around the outlet to reduce the diameter, typically from the size of a silver dollar to the size of a dime. The same technique may then be used to place additional sutures in the stomach pouch to reduce its volume capacity. To date, Dr. Wilson and his team have done approximately 75 of these procedures.

“Regaining weight after my initial surgery left me feeling defeated,” said Elias. “I underwent the procedure three months ago and have already lost 12 pounds and hope to lose another ten. I would recommend it to anyone going through a similar situation: it’s low-risk and, mentally and physically, it’s a great fix. I feel like I’m succeeding again.”