Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty (ESG) is the term given to a new weight loss procedure pioneered at the Mayo Clinic in 2012, and now in use in a number of centres around the world. The procedure is non-surgical and is performed by a specialist doctor using endoscopic techniques in an accredited hospital under general anaesthesia.
Once asleep, the specialist inserts a camera (endoscope) through the mouth and into the stomach via a protective tube, that protects the oesophagus (food pipe) from injury. Following an examination to ensure it is safe to proceed, a series of stitches are made within the stomach to create a tube- or banana-shape which significantly decreases the stomach’s capacity.
The procedure takes approximately 50 minutes to perform and the patient is able to be discharged from hospital on the same day.
How Does it Work?
The procedure not only forms a tubular-shaped stomach which is significantly more narrow, but also shortens the length of the stomach by approximately 50%. It is thought that the volume reduction of the stomach following ESG is approximately 75%.
Furthermore, the ESG slows the ability of the stomach to empty, which further enhances the appetite suppression and allows the patient to feel fuller for longer.
How effective is it and how long does it last?
Studies show the procedure, when combined with a comprehensive dietary and lifestyle programme, leads to an average of approximately 20-25% TBWL over 18 months (Total Body Weight Loss; ie a 100 kg person would lose 20-25kg on average). We often refer to “excess weight loss” when measuring the results from weight loss surgery, and we typically see around 40-50% excess weight loss (EWL) at 18 months with this procedure. One study has indicated that for people whose BMI is between 30 – 40, this procedure performs as well as a surgical sleeve in terms of weight loss over 18 months.
The procedure is designed to be permanent, however the stitches can be removed (returning the stomach to full volume) should your doctor decide it is necessary in the future.
The procedure is relatively new, having been developed in 2012, however data show persistent weight loss out to 3 years. It is expected that there may be some weight regain as the stitches loosen or break, however this can be prevented by avoidance of overeating and vomiting.
What are the side effects and risks?
Side effects after the procedure may include abdominal pain, nausea, cramping and vomiting, however BMI maintains a unique programme to minimise the risk of these side effects, particularly nausea and vomiting. These side effects last 2-3 days and then typically disappear.
The risks of complications are surprisingly small. There have been no deaths documented with this procedure with well over 2000 cases having been performed worldwide. There are risks of bleeding and infection, however the total risk is less than 1%.
To date, complications that have occurred have been able to be managed with endoscopies, medications or minor procedures. No complication has yet required surgery to resolve, however there is a very small risk that this may be required.
Maximising your results
Studies demonstrate that a critical component of successful weight loss procedures is engaging with your team of doctors, dietitians, psychologists and support staff. Research confirms that the more often you contact our team, the more successful your weight loss journey will be.
As part of the ESG programme, you will be expected to see our dietitian as well as our behavioural and psychological therapist on a monthly basis for 12 months. You will also be required to see your specialist four times over the course of the year. After your first year, it is recommended you see your team every 6-12 months, to guard against the risk of weight regain.