Short Clinical Reviews

Lean and clean: Minimally invasive endoscopic and pharmacologic approaches to obesity


Dr. Erik Holzwanger, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston

Dr. Erik Holzwanger

An ongoing challenge for patients is maintaining weight loss following cessation of pharmacotherapy when weight loss goals have been achieved. In this context, the combination of obesity pharmacotherapy and EBMTs can be utilized for long-term weight loss and weight maintenance given the chronic, relapsing, and complex nature of obesity.25

Advantages of less-invasive therapies in obesity management

The advantages of both pharmacologic and endoscopic weight-loss therapies are numerous. Pharmacotherapies are noninvasive, and their multiple mechanisms allow for combined use to synergistically promote weight reduction.26,27 Medications can be used in both the short- and long-term management of obesity, allowing for flexibility in use for patients pending fluctuations in weight. Furthermore, medications can improve markers of cardiovascular health including total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and glycemic control.28

Dr. Violeta Popov, VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, and assistant professor of medicine at New York University

Dr. Violeta Popov

As minimally invasive therapies, EBMTs have less morbidity and mortality, compared with bariatric surgeries.29 The most common side effects of IGBs or ESG include abdominal pain, nausea, and worsening of acid reflux symptoms, which can be medically managed unlike some of the AEs associated with surgery, such as bowel obstruction, anastomotic dehiscence, fistulization, and postoperative infections.30 Long-term AEs from surgery also include malabsorption, nutritional deficiencies, cholelithiasis, and anastomotic stenosis.31 Even with improvement in surgical techniques, the rate of perioperative and postoperative mortality in Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is estimated to be 0.4% and 0.7%, respectively, compared with only 0.08% with IGBs.30,32

In addition, EBMTs are also more cost effective than surgery, as they are often same-day outpatient procedures, leading to decreased length of stay (LOS) for patients. In ongoing research conducted by Sharaiha and colleagues, it was found that patients undergoing ESG had an average LOS of only 0.13 days, compared with 3.09 days for laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy and 1.68 for laparoscopic gastric banding. The cost for ESG was approximately $12,000, compared with $15,000-$22,000 for laparoscopic bariatric surgeries.33 With their availability to patients with lower BMIs and their less-invasive nature, EBMTs and pharmacotherapy can be utilized on the spectrum of obesity care as bridge therapies both before and after surgery.


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