Thursday, July 23, 2009

Laparoscopic Vertical Gastroplasty

A 2003 study, published in the Archives of Surgery, indicated that ‘vertical gastroplasty can benefit most patients with morbid obesity and should be more frequently used.’ And recently, the company, Power Medical Interventions(r), Inc. (PMI), introduced a medical device that facilitates a laparoscopic version of the surgery.

In vertical gastroplasty, a part of the stomach is stapled in such a way as to create a smaller stomach pouch. Vertical gastroplasty is a type of restrictive bariatric surgery which means that the patient’s food intake is limited by the surgery. Vertical gastroplasty is similar to sleeve gastrectomy.

In sleeve gastrectomy, a smaller stomach is made by sealing off part of the stomach using staples, and the unused part of the stomach is removed from the body. While vertical gastroplasty also seals off part of the stomach, resulting in a smaller stomach pouch, no part of the stomach is taken from the body in the surgery.

The device that PMI introduced is called the i60 Mid Cut device. The device can enable a doctor to perform vertical gastroplasty, laparoscopically, in approximately 30 minutes. As we’ve said before, laparoscopic bariatric surgery exposes the patient to less trauma and lowers recovery time.

As indicated on its Website, PMI is working on instruments that may allow vertical gastroplasty to be performed using a natural body orifice, such as the mouth, anus or vagina. Surgery using a natural orifice is often called Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery or NOTES.

Laparoscopic vertical gastroplasty -- even laparoscopic vertical gastroplasty performed using NOTES -- is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Still, laparoscopic vertical gastroplasty is an important step toward developing less invasive, effective forms of bariatric surgery.

Medical device providers, working on bariatric surgical instrumentation, may help increase bariatric surgical options. These device providers' efforts can increase the surgical options that bariatric surgical providers may offer, increasing the surgical choices for prospective bariatric patients. (Please leave a comment by clicking on the "COMMENTS" link at the lower right part of this blog post.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Opportunities to Fight Obesity May Become More Accessible

Today, we talk a lot about the causes of obesity and the methods that may be used to treat obesity. However, we might be missing some important opportunities to combat the disease during its early stages. Moreover, accessing those opportunities may become easier to do.

A study, entitled “Adult Obesity and Office-based Quality of Care in the United States,” discussed in a recent issue of the journal, Obesity, indicates that opportunities to treat obesity during patient visits to health care providers are commonly missed. For example, when an obese patient goes in for a physician visit, the patient is often not provided counseling on weight loss methods. And this absence of counseling leads to poor health and higher health care costs.

We think that patient visits provide an opportunity for physicians, especially primary care physicians, to improve the health of many patients. But in order for primary care physicians to take advantage of this opportunity, barriers that inhibit weight loss counseling must be broken down. And these barriers exist from both the patients' and the physicians' perspective.

For example, a 2007 report asserted that many health care providers feel that patients are obese because patients don’t effectively use self-control. And many patients believe that it’s up to them to control their weight. Thus many patients don’t talk with their health care provider about methods to combat obesity.

Although these and other barriers do exist, we believe that rising health care costs will cause more people to recognize the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. And this will cause more people to talk with their health care providers -- especially primary care physicians -- about weight management. Further, more people will talk with their providers about weight management, because their employers will urge them to do so.

Indeed, a July 2009 Wall Street Journal article entitled, “When All Else Fails: Forcing Workers Into Healthy Habits,” reported that some companies are now compelling their employees to live healthier lifestyles, because if employees live healthier lifestyles, this will lower a company's health care costs. A healthy lifestyle includes getting periodic physicals, sticking to a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.

We believe that there will be an increasing focus on living a healthier lifestyle, by primary care physicians and by patients. And this increasing focus offers an opportunity for all weight loss providers, especially medical weight loss providers. These weight loss experts can form strategic alliances with primary care physicians and others who work with persons needing to lose or maintain a healthy weight.

(Please leave a comment by clicking on the "COMMENTS" link at the lower right part of this blog post.)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Will the Demand Fall for Obesity Drugs?

Obesity drugs are one of the three methods generally employed to fight obesity. And the obesity market is a huge market that may be worth more than 500 billion dollars in a few years. However, drugs that fight obesity, so far, have not been very successful. These drugs cause cardiovascular and mental problems. Moreover, the use of the drugs usually doesn’t lead to long-term weight loss. Therefore, some believe that the demand for obesity drugs may fall in coming years.

Experts in India have felt for some time that the demand for obesity drugs will be hampered by the failures associated with the drugs. Today, India experts believe that the obesity drug failures have already caused demand for the drugs to decline by 70%. Indeed, if the demand for these drugs is declining worldwide, it will be harder for drug makers to sell new drugs, even if the drugs safely lead to weight loss.

So, it is imperative that pharmaceutical companies engaged in obesity drug research concentrate on producing safe and effective weight loss drugs. Tesofensine and Qnexa are two obesity drugs, currently in the pipeline, showing promise, as we've mentioned in this blog before. Let's hope these drugs prove to be successful.

However, if they don't prove successful, this condition creates an opportunity for the other two areas of weight loss and weight management -- lifestyle modification and bariatric surgery. Efforts to enhance lifestyle modification methods are being studied. And minimally invasive weight loss surgical techniques are being developed.

So despite the obesity-drug pessimistic outlook, research is ongoing in all weight loss arenas that may improve our ability to fight the worldwide weight gain. And of course, weight loss facilities should be willing to play whatever role is necessary to enhance their ability to provide healthy weight loss programs.

(Please leave a comment by clicking on the "COMMENTS" link at the lower right part of this blog post.)
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