Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Update on second person to have brain surgery for weight loss
Carol Poe, 60 years old, had had a "stomach stapling" (probably a VBG) and later was "revised" to a gastric bypass. Her original weight was almost 500 lbs - she's 5'2" and she still weighed 287 lbs when she went in to surgery. Apparently neither of the weight loss surgeries she had, had "worked" and of course, dieting hasn't worked either so Poe happily offered herself as a guinea pig for a new brain surgery which is supposed to kill the appetite. Neurosurgeon, Dr Don Whiting of West Virginia University is the one testing the procedure.
This surgery calls for two deep probes to be placed in her brain and 2 pace makers to be placed in her chest. The pace makers send out electrical currents to the probes and this supposedly kills her appetite. Her surgery lasted 3 hours and she was awake for the entire thing because when they place the probes they have to make sure they don't injure something else or take away any of her abilities.
She appeared on the Oprah show today (the show was originally aired in April) and said that after 2 months, she had lost a whopping (NOT) 11 lbs. She told Oprah that she didn't have any cravings and that she was eating a more healthy diet and that she is now going to the gym.
It should be noted that just going to the gym for two months could have explained the weight loss and that if she's only lost 11 lbs in two months even with going to the gym, she's not really cut down her food intake very much which suggests the surgery may not be cutting the appetite the way they hoped it would.
She's Whiting's second patient and he wants to do another soon. One of the requirements to be a guinea pig for this surgery, is to have had a gastric bypass (which apparently failed to cause a good weight loss), Whiting told the press in April. Don said he has to make sure the surgery is effective and safe.
Why Oprah decided to give this procedure her seal of approval by having the patient on her show (with Dr Oz) is unknown. But she made it clear on her show that she had no plans of having this brain surgery.
Carol Poe looks like she's survived the surgery well (Dr Whiting stated that there is a 1 in 100 chance of stroke or even death with this surgery) and she told Oprah that the loss of the 11 lbs has made it easier for her to move around and mow her grass. But likely, rather than the 11 lbs, it's been her trips to the gym which have made the difference in her ability to move better. Minus 11 lbs she still weighs 276 lbs at 5'2".
Dr Whiting expects to get FDA approval for this procedure in the next 2 years however, if Carol's lack of weight loss is any indicator, his path for approval may not be easy.
A similar surgery is used for Parkinson's disease but of course, long term repercussions with the new weight loss surgery could include the pacemakers moving around in the body or forming abscesses, brain damage from the flow of electricity into the brain and more.