Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Surgery reduces obesity

Hospital offers stomach-strap method

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CORRYVILLE - Severely obese young adults can get a new kind of stomach surgery at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

The pediatric hospital is one of two facilities in town offering the Lap-Band system - a way of controlling overeating by surgically placing a strap around the stomach.

The procedure is much like a gastric bypass operation - sometimes known as stomach stapling. However, the Lap-Band product is not permanent. It can be adjusted, even removed.

Obesity has become a serious public health concern, especially among teens. Children's Hospital officials say obesity among teens has tripled since the 1980s, leading to rising numbers of children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and other related health problems.

The adjustable band allows patients to gradually adjust to having a smaller stomach, said Dr. Victor Garcia, surgical director of the Comprehensive Weight Management Center at Cincinnati Children's. It also allows adjusting the amount of food a person can tolerate in situations when weight gain is desirable - such as during pregnancy and after an illness.

The product is recommended for people at least 100 pounds overweight or at least twice their ideal body weight.

Surgeons at Cincinnati Children's already perform about 25 traditional gastric bypasses a year for young patients at a cost of $25,000 to $35,000 each. The new procedure is expected to cost less, but pricing has not been set.

Insurance coverage is mixed and depends on the health plan.

The Lap-Band procedure also is being offered at Jewish Hospital via Dr. Elliot Fegelman, according to the manufacturer, Inamed Health of Santa Barbara, Calif.


E-mail tbonfield@enquirer.com

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