Radical Weight Loss Surgery
Carol says she weighed almost 490 pounds at her heaviest. Since then, she's tried dieting, exercising, stomach stapling and gastric bypass surgery to reach a healthy weight...but nothing has worked. "I've always known in my heart that there had to be something else," she says.
What if there was a medical solution that could put an end to Carol's yo-yo dieting, food cravings and calorie counting? Well, there is.
The groundbreaking procedure—deep brain stimulation surgery—has been used to treat Parkinson's symptoms for more than a decade, but now obese patients are signing up.
On February 3, 2009, Carol became the second person in the United States to have this experimental brain surgery to help control her weight. "I've tried everything else," she says. "I really believe that it's got something to do with the brain."
The three-hour procedure, which is still in trials, is performed while the patient is fully awake. "The brain feels no pain," Dr. Oz says.
Watch Dr. Oz explain this experimental weight loss surgery.
After the brain probes are in place, doctors also implant regulating devices, which are similar to pacemakers, into Carol's chest. These monitor the electrical currents that control Carol's food cravings and feelings of satisfaction.
"You turn these on when you're ready to turn it on, after the wounds have healed," Dr. Oz says. "Then, you can begin to stimulate [the brain]."
"I can have the same things that I had before, but my diet's totally changed," she says. "I don't want all the foods that I wanted before, and I do go to the gym now."
Carol says she now reaches for fruit instead of candy bars when she opens the refrigerator. "I just don't want it. I don't have the cravings for it," she says. "It's changed my eating habits totally to healthier food. I make better choices now, and I have more energy."
Since her surgery, Carol says she's able to do things she hasn't done in years...like mow the grass!
"Everybody knows people who have had heart pacemakers to have their heart work better," he says. "This is like a brain pacemaker that we hope changes the electric signals and the chemicals into the brain to give you a better metabolism."
Before this procedure becomes widely available, Dr. Whiting says he and his colleagues have to prove it's effective and safe. Then, he says, doctors may consider deep brain stimulation surgery when all else fails. "It would probably start out after bypass surgery, but it's a whole different approach," he says. "We're actually going to the control center, we think, to adjust things in a different way."
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