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Ever since her college years, Christina Brodzik, 42, struggled with her weight. “I had a genuine love for fast food and no self-control with portion sizes,” she admitted.
Additionally, her work as a busy consultant for one of the largest accounting firms in the world has the mother of two traveling Monday through Thursday, making exercising and eating well a challenge.
Brodzik had tried every diet in the world, but nothing seemed to work — until last year, when her husband read an article about endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG), a new nonsurgical weight loss procedure offered at the University of Chicago Medicine's Center for Endoscopic Research and Therapeutics (CERT). It’s currently one of the only locations in Chicago offering this new procedure.
At 5’2” and 225 pounds, Brodzik was ready to try something new. In September 2017, the northwest Chicago suburban mom met with gastroenterologist Christopher Chapman, MD, director of bariatric and metabolic endoscopy. And on Dec. 20, 2017, a day that Brodzik calls “one of my favorite days ever,” she underwent the procedure.
“From the second I had the surgery, I felt like I got my life back,” said Brodzik, who has since lost nearly 75 pounds and no longer suffers from severe sleep apnea, one common side effect of being overweight.
From the second I had the surgery, I felt like I got my life back.
ESG and other endoscopic therapies for weight loss are designed for patients with a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 40 and who want to lose 30-60 pounds. During the nonsurgical procedure, while the patient is asleep, the physician threads a flexible tube about the size of a finger — called an endoscope — through the mouth, down the esophagus and into the stomach. Using a device attached to the endoscope, the physician stitches and tightens sutures, decreasing the size and volume of the stomach by about 60 percent. People eat less, get full faster and lose weight. It’s an outpatient procedure with the majority of patients going home the same day.
In addition to sleep apnea, endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty can also help treat diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease and other obesity-related conditions, according to preliminary data.
The procedure takes about 60-90 minutes and afterwards, patients are observed for two hours before they go home. It was the best solution for Brodzik, who had been exploring a full gastric bypass, a more invasive surgical procedure.
“That just wasn’t for me,” she said. “I couldn’t commit to a full year of nutritional counseling because of my job, and I was really struggling with the permanence of the procedure and being out of work for several weeks. That’s not something I could do.” Instead she scheduled her ESG for the end of the year, when she took two weeks off for the holidays.
In the first week after her endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG), Brodzik lost 12 pounds. In the first month she lost 24 pounds, and since then she has lost a total of 73 pounds. Her BMI has dropped from 41 to 27. She has maintained her weight loss – and continued to lose weight – for more than a year.
“We’re excited about the ESG procedure because we know that patients are interested in the latest minimally invasive weight loss procedures, and our data is showing that with dedicated lifestyle changes, people can successfully maintain this weight loss for years,” Chapman said.
In coming months, UChicago Medicine will be one of eight centers around the country taking part in a clinical trial comparing endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty with a diet and exercise program.
“We think the ESG procedure will work better than diet and exercise alone,” said Chapman, who added that patients who may not have financial means for the procedure will be able to participate in the trial.
For her part, Brodzik is thrilled with the results.
“I feel much healthier, I can order clothing online and I can shop at ‘regular’ clothing stores,” she said. “I’m much happier overall, and I feel proud of my appearance and the fact that I accomplished this.”
Dr. Chapman is a skilled gastroenterologist with an expertise in minimally invasive, endoscopic bariatric therapies, such as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty and bariatric surgery revision.See Dr. Chapman's bio
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