A new surgical weight-loss procedure is now available to women who are looking to slim down and lose 25 to 70 pounds.
Dr. Tom Lavin, founder of Surgical Specialists in Louisiana, is a pioneer behind the hottest new weight-loss procedure called POSE, which stands for primary obesity surgery endoluminol.
"POSE is for patients who want to lose 25-50, maybe 60 or 70 pounds," says Lavin. "It's a much different group of people than we normally approach for bariatric surgery."
POSE is like the classic bypass operation, but there are no incisions, as everything is done through the mouth using an endoscope. The surgical tools make the stomach about 30 percent smaller, says Lavin, and the patient typically goes home the same day.
Krystal Townsend, 34, had struggled with her weight most of her life and was not happy with who she was. She weighed 229 pounds before she paid a visit to Lavin. After POSE, she says, she has a new lease on life.
"It was amazing," says Townsend. "I didn't have any pain or any nausea, or any of the things that you hear about with some of the other procedures that are done."
Eve Talley, like most women, had tried diets for years but never got the results she wanted. Talley lost 12 pounds a month after undergoing surgery.
"I'm just tired of wearing a size 14 bathing suit. I want to wear a 6 or 7 like everybody else," says Talley.
Lavin doesn't believe that surgery is too extreme to lose only 25 to 30 pounds of weight.
"People get liposuction all the time, and they might lose 4 pounds of fat," says Lavin. "I don't think this is nearly as strange."
Critics argue that while the endoscope has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, its use in weight- loss surgery has not been approved, and no long-term studies have been done in the U.S. to test its safety or effectiveness.
Dr. Shawn Garber, director of the New York Bariatric Group, can't say whether the $12,000 surgery is a ripoff but does caution those who are thinking about it.
"Until we have good data, it's not something that we should be promoting to the public," says Garber. "You are putting needles through the patient's stomach, you are putting a device down through the esophagus - there are risks."
Neither is POSE and approved procedure by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
"The data is not sufficient to support its approval at this time," says Dr. Robin Blackstone, president of the ASMBS, in an email to ABC News. "Some surgeons have embraced it for the cash-paying patient, but again, the ASMBS does not feel the data is sufficient to approve it, and the society believes that a fully informed consent should be done making patients aware of approved procedures that have been validated in the scientific literature in a more thorough way."
Lavin says s that his innovative surgery is similar to the bariatric procedures that preceded it, and that there will always be growing pains.
"It is not going to displace bariatric surgery for the morbidly obese, because it doesn't compete … says Lavin.
And while it might not be a magic bullet for weight loss, patients like Townsend and Talley seem happy with the results so far.