Single-Incision Technique Available for Weight Loss Surgery

Weight Loss Surgery Hospital UT Southwestern

Individuals who are considering bariatric surgery for weight loss now have a new option: single-incision laparoscopic surgery. This surgical technique is relatively new and requires surgeons to learn specialized skills.

Traditional laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery typically requires four to six small openings (less than one-half to one inch long each) made in the abdomen. Surgeons use these openings to insert surgical instruments, a light, and a camera to perform the weight loss procedure. Common types of weight loss surgery include adjustable gastric band surgery, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, and sleeve gastrectomy, among others.

Because traditional laparoscopic surgery involves four or more incisions, each one has the potential to become infected and to cause pain. The presence of four or more scars, as compared with one, means a longer healing period. On the cosmetic side, patients are more likely to want the single-incision option because they are left with only one scar.

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The new single-incision laparoscopic surgery option for weight loss significantly reduces the risks of infection, greatly speeds up healing, and can help reduce post-operative pain. Currently few physicians have learned the techniques required to successfully perform this specialized surgical procedure, but as demand grows and more physicians learn the process, patients will have greater access to qualified surgeons. University of Texas (UT) Southwestern is among the few medical centers across the nation that is teaching surgeons the new technique.

Candidates for weight loss surgery are typically people who weigh more than 100 pounds over their ideal body weight or who have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35 to 40. Obese individuals who have medical problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension that seriously compromise their life also should be considered for the surgery.

Single-incision laparoscopic surgery is gradually gaining ground in many other areas of medicine. In April 2009, for example, the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore was the first hospital in Maryland and the third in the United States to perform a single-incision laparoscopic procedure to remove a kidney. Surgeons at UT Southwestern’s Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery have pioneered new techniques for single-incision surgery.

Health News Digest 9/2/09
University of Maryland Medical Center, April 23, 2009 release
UT Southwestern’s Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery