A kinder, gentler form of weight-loss surgery?

No matter how you cut it, weight loss surgery is a major operation.  A device that looks a little bit like a spider could make it a lot easier for some patients. Surgeon Andrew Harrier is pleased with the results he's gotten at Woman's hospital.   According to Hardgroder, "This device is deployed into the abdomen. It is placed together."

It's called a spider because it has three legs. The one in the middle is for a camera so the surgeon can watch what he's doing on a monitor in the operating room.  The doctor uses the others to cut, snip, and clip. Spider gastric-sleeve weight loss surgery works on the same principle as less invasive laparoscopic surgery. There are three holes. Two are about the size of a dime on either side of the belly button. The third is made on the side of the abdomen and is no bigger than a freckle.

It's a lot less cutting, which Hardgroder says is less trauma for the patient. "What our patients are relating is that they have less pain, as we compare them to the standard approach. So less pain, less pain medicine, thus getting back to work quicker, and ultimately the better cosmetic outcome."

Once inside the abdomen, the spider is used to remove 90-percent of the stomach to limit how much a patient will be able to eat. In that way, it's the same as traditional gastric sleeve surgery.

While less cutting makes the operation more attractive for some, Hardgroder says it is not right for everyone. "Much larger patients would not be a candidate for this technique, because the instrument might not reach to the areas that we need to reach."

Weight-loss surgery may offer a patient a better cosmetic result, maybe even less pain...but it's still an operation with all the risks and potential complications that come with it. That's why doctors reserve the operations for people who are dangerously overweight.  No matter what advances are made, doctors will tell you weight loss surgery should be the last resort for someone who is obese who wants to shed extra pounds.  Changes in diet, exercise and even medications should all be the first line of attack.

Copyright 2012 WAFB. All rights reserved.