Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

Thursday, June 22, 2017 1:00 am

Balloons newest weight-loss option

FRANK GRAY | The Journal Gazette

At a glance

Dual intragastric balloon procedure

Process: Connected balloons are inserted into stomach to reduce stomach's capacity.

Benefits: Combined with lifestyle changes, helps patients lose weight without surgery. Much less expensive than surgical bypass.

The Lutheran Weight Management Center is offering a new, less invasive treatment option for patients seeking substantial weight loss.

The nonsurgical approach is called a dual intragastric balloon procedure. It involves inserting two connected balloons into the patient's stomach using an endoscope and filling the balloons with saline solution. The result is that the stomach's capacity is reduced.

The patient is sedated for the 20- to 30-minute procedure, and discharged within an hour or two.

Nutritionists and other specialists work with patients, teaching them healthy eating and exercise habits.

The balloons are removed after six months, but the personal coaching continues for 12 months.

The procedure is designed for people with a body mass index of 30 to 40, but they cannot have had any other gastric surgical procedures connected to weight loss.

Dr. David Lippie said the center has not performed the procedure on any patients yet.

The gastric balloon option is not covered by insurance, but many insurers don't cover gastric bypass and other procedures either.

“This is for people with lower BMI who are not a candidate for the more invasive procedures,” Lippie said.

It is also much less costly. Lutheran officials would not discuss cost, but Lippie said it is 75 percent to 80 percent less expensive than a gastric bypass or gastric sleeve procedure.

“It's a great way to get into the system and get a jump start” on a major weight loss program, Lippie said. “This is for someone who wants to lose 30, 40, 50 pounds.”

The balloon used, made by ReShape Medical, is the only gastric balloon of its kind that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Lutheran said.

Someone with serious health issues due to high weight might experience better long-term benefits from a more invasive procedure, Lippie said. But other patients, including those who want an alternative to surgery, can try the procedure.

Regardless of what type of procedure a patient chooses, Lippie said they have to change their lifestyle.

One advantage of the balloon procedure is that if a patient has it done but then experiences more weight problems and needs a more dramatic treatment, they are still eligible. “You haven't burned any bridges,” Lippie said.

Also, because the procedure is non-surgical, there are fewer risks of complications.

fgray@jg.net