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Dr. Christopher Thompson performs transoral obesity surgery.
Despite trying nearly every non-fad diet on the market, Christine Baker, 36, has been struggling with her weight since her early 20s.
Four weeks ago, that changed. Baker became BWH’s third patient to undergo transoral obesity surgery, a weight-loss procedure without an incision. “It is amazing,” said Baker, who has lost 16 pounds to date. “The recovery time was so short and comfortable that I felt I could’ve gone back to work the next day.”
Speedy recoveries were part of the reason that Christopher Thompson, MD, became the first in the nation to perform this type of procedure earlier this summer. Thompson works closely with a multidisciplinary team of dietitians, psychiatrists, nurses and others in screening patients for the procedure and caring for them after.
“Our goal is to give patients an alternative to traditional obesity surgery, one with a faster and less painful recovery time and a reduced risk for infections and other complications,” said Thompson, BWH’s director of Developmental and Bariatric Endoscopy and a nationally recognized leader of natural orifice surgery.
The procedure, an alternative to gastric bypass or lap band surgery, is part of an FDA-approved clinical trial at BWH and the Cleveland Clinic. During the procedure, Thompson guides an endoscope through the patient’s mouth and sutures carefully placed stitches to narrow the stomach.
Twenty patients will undergo the procedure as part the clinical trial at BWH and Cleveland Clinic. Eligible patients must have a BMI, or body mass index, of at least 30, meaning that this procedure may be able to prevent obesity, as opposed to solely treating it.
Baker said that she had already lost six pounds one week after her procedure and was feeling healthy. “It’s not just about looks,” said Baker, whose father died of a heart attack at 49. “It’s about your overall health and doing something good for your body.”
She felt well-informed about the procedure beforehand. “The doctors, nurses, and nutritionist were so helpful,” she said. “They talk to you in a way that you really understand and have a good picture of what it’s going to be like right after surgery and in the weeks and months after it. I had such great care.”
Thompson is pleased with the results Baker and other patients are experiencing. “All of the patients are doing very well,” Thompson said. “The first patient is nearly three months post-surgery and has lost more than 40 pounds. This procedure is extremely promising for patients struggling to lose the most weight and who face the greatest risk with traditional bariatric surgery.”
“It really will change my whole life,” Baker said. “It already has, and it’s only been four weeks.”