Until recently, shrinking the stomach for weight loss was done through a rather lengthy and risky surgery.
But now a new procedure can do it in under an hour -- with no cutting!
When 30 year old Belinda Guevara's weight peaked at 217 pounds, she decided to take action.
"I’ve heard about gastric bypass. I've also heard about the gastric banding and I’m really not the type of person that would submit myself to that kind of surgery."
Instead Belinda opted for a new experimental weight loss procedure that shrinks stomach size without surgery.
It's done by going in through the mouth and down the esophagus.
Gastroenterologist Pedro Jose Greer said "we are not removing anatomy; we're just making the tunnel a little thinner. This is completely reversible. This is a procedure that takes up to 45 minutes to perform and the patient goes home within half an hour to an hour after the procedure."
Mercy Hospital in Miami is one of three centers in the U.S. now studying whether vertical gastroplasty is safe and effective.
Dr. Roberto Fogel came up with this procedure in Venezuela. Using a device that's FDA approved to treat reflux, he stitches together parts of the stomach to make it smaller. And that has been found to reduce levels of the hormone that controls hunger.
Greer added "so you have a little pouch here that actually drips the food in, one by one. You eat smaller amounts; you're not as hungry, so you lose weight."
Dr. Fogel claims there have been no serious complications so far. "We had in Venezuela maybe six or seven patients from the almost 400 with a small bleeding, but a bleeding that was controlled in the moment."
Dr. Fogel provided these before and after photos showing some impressive results.
This stomach shrinking procedure costs 89 hundred dollars. Insurance won't cover it because it's considered investigational.
Candidates for this study are people with a body mass index or BMI between 28 and 40, needing to lose less than a hundred pounds and have no chronic health conditions.
Greer states "morbidly obese patients still should go for gastric bypass."
Two days after her gastroplasty, Belinda feels great and has noticed a big difference in her appetite.
"I’m not hungry which is great because you don't have the urge and you don't have the sensation to just eat. It's incredible because you would never think that you would feel full having soup. And having a small amount of soup, I’m already full."
Belinda's goal is to lose 60 pounds. Her doctors say most of that should be gone in six months.