The intragastric balloon, also known by one of its trade names, Orbera, is the latest weight loss-related medical device to be approved by the FDA, and it's now being offered only at Springhill Medical Center. SMC is the first hospital in the Mobile area to offer the procedure and is the only location for the procedure between New Orleans and Dothan. The Orbera Managed Weight Loss System consists of two parts, the first being the device itself – a balloon-like implant – and the second being a yearlong medical weight loss program. This program is ideal for patients who may not qualify for bariatric surgery or who are concerned about a surgical procedure and would prefer a non-surgical option.
The procedure boasts 20 years of clinical data proving its effectiveness with more than 200,000 of these balloons having been placed worldwide to date. It is ideal for patients with a BMI of 30 to 40 who have not had success with other weight loss programs such as self-directed dieting and exercise or medical weight loss.
Only a qualified bariatric surgeon can place the balloon and administer the weight loss program.
How The Intra-Gastric Balloon Works
The balloon is inserted into the stomach endoscopically. This requires only mild sedation for patient comfort. No incisions are needed. The un-inflated balloon is passed through the mouth and into the stomach using a specially made device. Once placed appropriately, the same device used to insert the balloon will fill it with sterile saline. Balloon size will be determined by the surgeon and is based on the patient’s individual circumstance.
The procedure itself takes about 30 minutes, and patients will be able to return home the same day, resuming normal activity shortly thereafter.
Once the procedure is complete, an intensive yearlong managed weight loss program will start. This will offer behavioral modifications as well as comprehensive nutritional and exercise education. The program is specifically designed to be engaging and set the stage for a lifetime of healthier decisions.
The balloon can only remain in the stomach for six months as the corrosive nature of stomach acid can cause the lining of the balloon to break down. In rare cases a second balloon may be placed. The removal of the balloon is similarly simple – the surgeon will puncture and drain the balloon, once again removing the un-inflated shell through the mouth.
Results Of The Gastric Balloon
Results of any weight loss procedure will, of course, vary among patients. However, data provided by Orbera customers shows an average weight loss of 21.8 lbs. – approximately three times greater than patients who were on a diet and exercise program alone. Ultimately, a patient’s willingness and ability to follow the diet and exercise program will determine long-term success.
Benefits Of The Gastric Balloon
- Non-surgical weight loss requiring no incisions
- Minimal pain
- Completely reversible without any alteration to the gastrointestinal anatomy
- Significantly better weight loss when compared to diet, exercise and diet pills alone.
- Helps teach and reinforce a new healthy lifestyle
Risks And Considerations Of The Gastric Balloon
- The balloon is simply a tool to help qualifying patients lose weight. Since it is a temporary solution, patients must follow the principles of their diet and exercise program over the long-term to achieve sustained results.
- The balloon may leak or deflate prior to the six-month course of placement, necessitating removal.
- Nausea and vomiting are likely during the first two weeks of balloon placement. Medication will be prescribed to lessen these symptoms.
- Any unusual or severe symptoms should be reported to a qualified doctor immediately.