How the endoscopic sleeve weight-loss procedure works

About 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight. Nearly three-quarters of men and about 60% of women are obese or overweight. A nonsurgical weight-loss procedure called endoscopic gastric sleeve is showing a lot of promise in certain patients.

Lisa Rivera told FOX 5 NY that she started having trouble managing her weight after giving birth to her daughter.

"I wanted to be healthier and more active especially with my daughter," Rivera said. "I wanted to be able to do things with her, which the weight, unfortunately, was not allowing me to do."

With her own health at risk, Rivera sought the help of Dr. Reem Sharaiha, a gastroenterologist at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medicine. The attending physician is at the forefront of a nonsurgical weight-loss procedure called a gastric sleeve.

This is how the endoscopic sleeve, or accordion, procedure works: A scope enters through the patient's throat and goes into the stomach, where a suturing device starts to cinch the stomach.

Originally the size of a balloon, the stomach becomes a pouch the size of a banana. With a smaller stomach, the patient gets full faster and eats less.

"What's very appealing about this procedure is that it's a scarless procedure. It's like going to the dentist and pulling your tooth," Sharaiha said. "No one knows what you've had done but when you start losing the weight, people say, 'What have you had done?'"

Which is what happened to Rivera. She went home right after the procedure and was back to work two days later. Since then, she has lost 50 pounds. And the most encouraging part is that she has changed her habits with the help of a psychologist and a dietician and is keeping the weight off.

The gastric sleeve is only recommended for patients who are moderately obese. Doctors say that it has a low complication rate because it is nonsurgical.