A third of the world is now overweight or obese. These figures are staggering with no hope in sight. Are we expected to diet our way back to health when it is proven that only radical interventions can create substantial and lasting weight-loss?
A new gastric balloon introduced at the European Congress of Weight-Loss Surgery this month promises to be the safer solution for weight-loss. The OGB (Obalon Gastric Balloon, Obalon Therapeutics, San Diego, Ca.) is a novel inflatable balloon that is swallowed in a tiny capsule, then inflated to the size of a small hamburger and left in the stomach for a period of time. Though balloons are not a new idea, most of the designs that made it to clinical trials required endoscopy under anesthesia to be placed and produced less than 20% excess weight-loss.
This new device called the OGB requires nothing more than a simple swallow of a pill. Because of it’s simplicity, during the treatment phase when the patient starts tolerating more food and stops losing weight a second even a third balloon can be swallowed and re-establish the satiety the balloon induces and result in additional weight-loss.
Dr Ariel Ortiz Lagardere, Director of Bariatric surgery at obesity control center, Baja, Mexico, who presented the outcomes from a pilot study at the IFSO-european chapter, in Barcelona, Spain, said, “this novel gastric device is highly durable, maintains inflation, can be easily removed, demonstrates excellent tolerance and most importantly have a strong safety profile.” The first observational prospective trials took place in 2011. A total of 28 patients underwent the procedure, no complications or adverse effects were reported and the balloons were well tolerated.
Excess weight-loss was a surprising 35.5% in the whole group, since the trial period was very short: 3months. Additional trials have taken place in Belgium and in France, both reporting 50% excess weight-loss at three months. “With the epidemic overtaking the world and no real solution in sight, this device may just be the Botox of weight-loss”, said Dr Ortiz after his lecture. Though a potent toxin, Botox is used for many medical treatments but because of it’s safety profile it is used widely for esthetic purposes. This new balloon can be just the answer for those needing to lose tens to hundreds of pounds and everything in between.