Five years after undergoing endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG), patients achieved a total body weight loss of about 15%, a retrospective study showed.

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The finding comes from the first long-term analysis of outcomes following endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty, a relatively new, minimally invasive weight-loss procedure that offers patients an alternative to bariatric surgery.

“Endoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is a 1-day outpatient procedure that uses a suturing device attached to an endoscope to create a series of sutures that cinch the stomach like an accordion down to roughly the size of a banana, and leaves no scars,” lead study author Reem Z. Sharaiha, MD, MSc, said during a media briefing in advance of the annual Digestive Disease Week®. “The procedure causes patients to eat less because they feel full faster. This results in weight loss.”

Digestive Disease Week is jointly sponsored by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT).

While previous studies have tracked ESG results for 1-2 years, her research team followed 203 patients who underwent the procedure between August 2013 and October 2018. “We felt that a longer-term study was needed to make sure weight loss was sustainable with this method of treatment, because research shows that if you keep weight loss for an extended period of time, you’re more likely to keep it off permanently, which is ultimately what we want for these patients,” said Dr. Sharaiha, who is an attending physician at New York–Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine, New York.

At baseline, the mean age of the 203 patients was 46 years, 67% were female, and their mean body mass index was 39 kg/m2. Dr. Sharaiha and colleagues observed that maximum weight loss was generally achieved by 24 months after the procedure, after which patients tended to regain a small amount of their lost weight. For example, at 1 year, the mean weight loss was 18.1 kg, with a total body weight loss of 15.2% (P less than .0001 for both associations). At 2 years, the mean weight loss was 17.3 kg, with a total body weight loss of 14.5% (P less than .0001 for both associations). At 3 years, the mean weight loss was 20.8 kg, with a total body weight loss of 14.5% (P less than .0001 for both associations). At 5 years, the mean weight loss was 18.7 kg (P = .0003) and the total body weight loss was 14.5% (P = .0002).

Overall, patients gained an average 2.4 kg of weight after achieving their minimum weight after ESG until the end of follow-up. The researchers also found that failure to lose at least 10% of total body weight within the first 3 months after ESG decreased the chance of subsequent significant weight loss by 80%. Fewer than 1% of patients experienced complications, an improvement over surgical procedures.

“Our study showed very sustainable, significant weight loss for our patients between the 1 and 5 year mark,” Dr. Sharaiha said. “Out to 5 years, there was an average 15% total body weight loss. This is significant, because studies have shown that when people lose at least 10% of their body weight, they see improvement in blood pressure, diabetes, and heart outcomes, which are the comorbidities associated with obesity. We hope these findings will help persuade insurance companies that ESG is not experimental, but has value over patients’ lifespans.”

Dr. Sharaiha and colleagues plan to follow the current cohort for the next 10-20 years. “It’s important to show the value of these endoscopic procedures, so we’ll be looking at improvement in comorbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol,” she said. “We’re also part of a randomized study that’s currently under way looking at ESG in combination with diet and exercise.”

She reported having no financial disclosures.