A new weight loss tool recently approved by the FDA is now available in Southwest Florida.
The Obalon weight loss balloon isn’t the first type of device to take up space in your stomach, but it is the first to be put in without IV sedation.
It’s swallowed as a pill that’s then inflated once in your stomach. Doctors then fill it with gas, instead of a saline solution used by other weight loss balloons.
Weight loss surgeon Dr. Moses Shieh is the first physician in Southwest Florida and one of the first in the state to offer the device at his practice, Surgical Healing Arts Center in Fort Myers.
He describes this as the second generation of weight loss balloons, and says the gas offers other advantages over saline.
“It’s another opportunity to minimize [patient’s] side effects, and get them to start losing weight,” he explained.
Shieh says some patients have experienced side effects like nausea or heartburn from saline balloons, and early studies are showing fewer side effects with the gas.
“With the Obalon, the second generation, the balloon is gas-filled so it’s more floating up to the upper aspect of the stomach,” he said. “What does this mean for the patient? Less side effects, that patients actually tolerated very well after the procedure, so that’s exciting.”
The balloon was cleared for use in the states in September of 2016. It’s been in use in other countries for several years.
Weight loss balloons are not yet covered under insurance, and cost between $6,000 and $9,000 around the country.
They’re a temporary and cheaper alternative to bariatric surgery, which Dr. Shieh says can run anywhere from $15,000 to $24,000 depending on the procedure.
Physicians can put in up to three balloons during a six-month period.
In a clinical study, patients with the Obalon balloon system lost about twice as much weight than those who tried just diet and exercise alone.
If you’re interested in learning more about Obalon, Surgical Healing Arts Center is holding a launch event with more information on Tuesday, December 13th at 6 p.m. RSVP is requested by calling 239-850-9322.