Going under the knife is taking on a whole new meaning at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego.
Dr. Julie Ellner and her patient Angela Dean talk about this latest procedure that is helping patients who have had gastric bypass surgery in the past. Angela was more than 200 pounds overweight when she had gastric bypass surgery, the stomach stapling procedure, 8 years ago.
“I went in, had the surgery, took time to recover and lost 180 pounds. I then got sick and started to gain some weight back, went to a few doctors and everybody said everything was fine…I knew it wasn’t. There was definitely something wrong. A few years later I found Dr. Ellner and she said you’re stomach is not fine. I can help you.”
How Stomaphyx Works – Who is it for?
According to Dr. Ellner, “Angela experienced stomach stretch which is something that can happen to patients who have had gastric bypass. The stomach is meant to be about 15cc’s, which is about the size of a golf ball (after gastric bypass). The stomach is normally the size of a deflated Nerf football, so we really make it very small in doing the gastric bypass. But in some patients for various reasons it can stretch out over time, and then it takes more food to fill that stomach, so it takes more food for a patient to feel full and the weight starts to creep back on.”
Now there is a new procedure to help, an addendum, to the initial bariatric surgery. It is scar less surgery and there is no cutting. “It is called the stomaphyx instrument and this is actually an instrument that goes down through the mouth that allows us to re-cinch the stomach from the inside without making any incisions at all in the abdomen. It is an out patient procedure and patients leave the hospital about six hours later. So it allows us to go in and make the stomach small again without the very high risk surgery of the traditional re-visional surgery,” said Dr. Ellner.
After Angela had the procedure she lost 15 pounds in three weeks. According to her,
“This was incredible. I went in and was home by five o’clock that night and went to work the next day. If I didn’t know I was going to have this procedure I would have not known about it at all because only my throat hurt a little…nothing invasive at all.”
Thousands of patients have bariatric surgery every year, but the question of how many people have weight regain is the unanswered question. Dr. Ellner says, “Generally, it’s because those patients aren’t back in their doctors offices getting the follow up that they need for various reasons. If they have regained weight, they don’t go back to see their doctor so we don’t really know, as surgeons, how many patients are out there experiencing these problems that actually need an instrument like this to help them with the stomaphyx procedure. So we don’t really know how many patients are out there that need it.”
Many people who have bariatric surgery when they have diabetes notice that the diabetes goes away after the surgery. When Angela was overweight, diabetes wasn’t an issue for her but she says,
“My whole life changed and then it changed again after gaining it back, so now it’s on another change. Everything about weight loss changes your life…your outlook, you’re everything. I have a beautiful daughter now because I was able to lose weight, and everything is just awesome.”
Is Stomaphyx Covered by Insurance?
Stomaphyx is not covered by insurance because it is such a new procedure.
It is thought that at least 20% of people who have had bariatric surgery will regain a significant amount of weight.