Catgut implants are not for everyone, Taiwanese expert says
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 12/05/2012 -- A Taiwanese woman nearly died of complications related to traditional weight-loss implants, but her plight should not be blamed on the procedure, a medical expert said.
Some 1,500 strings of catgut were embedded in the patient over a 15-month span, and she later fell ill to complications including suppurating wounds. Catgut is a strand prepared from fibers in animal intestines.
Chen Wang-chuan, director-general of the National Union Association of Chinese Medical Doctors, said patients should be careful before using catgut implants to lose weight. He spoke recently to the Consumers’ Federation, the Taipei Times reported.
The woman’s complications should not have occurred, Chen said. Doctors should have been using disinfected equipment and appropriate medicines. He also suggested that her weight problem was characterized by visceral obesity rather than subcutaneous fat, which is more effectively treated by catgut implants.
The technique of embedding strings of catgut is ancient, said Chen. He added that it was not originally used to treat weight problems but to strengthen weak constitutions. After people found that the catgut procedure could take off pounds, they began to take advantage of it.
In the past, doctors did not have the thin needles available today, and the catgut was placed in a patient’s body at pressure points and sewn closed. The modern process of making catgut also is different, as the strings are fabricated.
Chen said the catgut has proteins that are an energy source for the body, as the string is absorbed it burns subcutaneous fat.
Patients who have visceral obesity likely are suffering from some type of disorder. They should have the problem treated before undergoing the catgut procedure, Chen said.
Exercise, dieting and following a healthy lifestyle can help people with subcutaneous fat, Chen said. Catgut embedding is sometimes used as a shortcut to weight loss, but such radical solutions should only be used with care.
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