EBMT: Advances in Weight Loss Procedures

Obesity is an epidemic, and it is one with few options — medication, lifestyle modifications, and bariatric surgery — until recently. For many patients, lifestyle alterations and drugs are not enough for lasting change. While bariatric options are capable solutions, most patients struggle to meet surgical requirements, and even if they do, they opt out of surgery because of fear and anxiety.

Thankfully, because of recent medical advancements, overweight patients have options outside of lifestyle interventions and invasive surgeries. Endoscopic bariatric and metabolic therapies provide a necessary median between dietary changes and surgical options.

EBMT procedures present fewer risks than traditional bariatric surgeries and are outpatient procedures. The process involves the insertion of a small, flexible scope through the patient's mouth and requires reducing their stomach volume and possible alterations to the digestive tract. The reduced risks and minimal invasiveness mean an entirely new patient pool can receive treatment for obesity and other metabolic diseases.

The Rise of Noninvasive Procedures and Customization

While not a widespread practice at the moment, EBMT procedures are growing in popularity. One of the few institutions currently providing various EBMT services in the Midwest is the University of Michigan's Michigan Medicine program.

According to the program's head, it is a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, using nutritionists, gastrointestinal psychologists, medical bariatrician, and bariatric surgeons. Each medical professional plays a role in developing a personalized plan for each patient, integrating their personal goals and expectations.

The Michigan Medicine program and others like it aim to provide noninvasive options for patients in need and customized solutions to improve the odds of a successful outcome. Unfortunately, because the methods are still new, many insurance providers do not cover EBMT procedures, meaning patients should consider the costs and work with a financial counselor to review options.

Types of EBMT Procedures

There are three popular options for EBMT procedures: intragastric balloon therapy, endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty, and aspiration therapy. Intragastric balloon therapy is for patients with a BMI of 30 to 40. During the procedure, a bariatric surgeon endoscopically inserts fluid or gas-filled balloons through the patient's mouth and into their stomach during a 30-minute procedure. The balloons decrease the available space in the stomach, limiting food consumption. This procedure is reversible, and balloons require removal after six months.

An endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty is intended for patients with a BMI of more than 30. While it is compared to the traditional surgical sleeve gastrectomy, this procedure is minimally invasive and incisionless with a low complication rate. It is an excellent option for nonsurgical candidates and provides the possibility of sustained weight loss.

Finally, aspiration therapy is for those patients with a BMI of 35 to 55 and involves the placement of a tube device and drain. A surgeon places the device through a small incision endoscopically into the stomach, leaving a port valve outside the body. The patient will aspirate or open the drain up to three times per day, 30 minutes after each meal. The valve allows up to 30% of a meal to evacuate the system over 10 minutes. The evacuated contents can be discarded.

Aspiration therapy requires medical monitoring, but it can provide an option for long-term weight loss. Patients will need to maintain hygiene and cleanliness practices to reduce the risk of infection or other issues.

Despite the continued obesity epidemic, medical procedures constantly evolve to help combat the problem and offer a solution to qualified candidates. Have you heard of any other new treatments or procedures for weight loss or management? Comment below.

The Possible Causes of Premature Graying

Many men and women stress finding gray hairs; they assume it is a sign of poor health or aging. When the gray starts to appear earlier than expected, it can throw people into an absolute panic but is that the appropriate response. 

There are many reasons your hair might turn gray “prematurely,” but more often than not, it is a natural progression, with several professionals suggesting that by the time you turn 50, half your hair is gray. Obviously, those opinions are not all-inclusive, but they point to an interesting factor: going gray is normal, even predictable, so why do people fear it instead of embracing it. Whether out of existential dread or concerns about public perception, going gray prematurely is likely the result of one or a combination of factors.

1. Genetics

Genetics plays a significant role in when and how your hair will turn gray. Look into your family history; when did your mother’s or father’s hair turn gray? What about siblings, cousins, aunts, or uncles? If most people in your family have turned gray early, the odds are that your hair will follow suit. However, there is a chance that your risk of inheriting premature gray hair is unlikely, in which case, there might be another culprit.

2. Lifestyle

What is your lifestyle like? Are you sedentary or active? Do you have a fulfilling personal life? Your lifestyle can affect your hair, but to what extent is still unknown. While people have speculated for years that stress plays a significant role in premature graying, there is little to no evidence corroborating the assumption.

3. Diet

Diet can be a crucial player in when your hair turns gray and even how healthy it is. Your hair depends on several cellular and biological processes that, in turn, depend on several vital nutrients. If you are not getting enough nutritional value from your food, you may see adverse effects on your hair. For instance, vitamins B-12, A, C, D, and E are essential to hair health. If you are deficient in any of these nutrients, you can experience hair loss or other signs of premature aging, like graying hair.

4. Smoking

One of the worst things you can do for hair health is smoke. Unlike stress, smoking has been proven to have a connection to graying hair, especially among those 30 and younger. If you are concerned with premature graying, avoid smoking cigarettes and avoid secondhand smoke inhalation.

5. Medical Condition

While not the most likely cause of early graying, certain medical conditions can lead to the development of gray hair. Pituitary and thyroid gland problems are two conditions that might be connected to graying hair, but it should be noted that such results are incredibly rare. 

Premature graying is most often a result of genetics, but depending on your lifestyle, diet, and habits, the aging or transformation of your hair might be reversible. However, if genetic or permanent, do not assume you need to cover it up. Gray hair is a natural part of aging and is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. 

Do you fear gray hair, or do you embrace the change? Leave a comment and help keep the conversation going.