Every year, demand for weight loss treatment rises. In answer to this, new technologies are being developed to advance the availability of options for people who are obese. Thankfully, it is now understood that these treatments are not designed for people who are vein and want to look better. Nor are they designed for those who are simply too lazy to work out or to eat healthy. It is understood that obesity is a type of addiction, over which someone has very little control. It is also understood that, while weight loss surgery is expensive, the cost dwarfs in comparison to the treatment of the various medical conditions people will develop if they don’t have the surgery. That said, procedures are being developed that are less expensive, less risky, and put more of the onus on the patient. One of those procedures is the gastric balloon.
What Is the Gastric Balloon?
The gastric balloon is the latest type of medical weight loss procedure that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To date, only two balloons have been approved, being the Orbera gastric balloon and the ReShape gastric balloon. Both of these balloons work on a similar basis, namely that they are inserted into the stomach through an endoscopic tube, after which they are filled with a saline solution and blue dye (so that the patient can be aware of leakages in the very rare cases that this happens). Once the balloon is in place and inflated, it takes up a great amount of space in the stomach, meaning that people can only eat very limited portion sizes, inevitably leading to weight loss. The balloon is put in place for a period of no longer than six months, giving people sufficient time to lose a large proportion of their excess weight, but also to develop new, healthy lifestyle habits.
While it is still classed as a new procedure, the very first gastric balloon was actually developed some 30 years ago. However, those preliminary tests were unsuccessful, with balloons deflating and leading to significant complications. Thanks to various improvements in the field of medical science, this is no longer an issue. The balloon can safely take up around one third of the stomach, ensuring stomach capacity is significantly reduced. And should the balloon deflate, patients will be warned about this due to their urine turning blue because of the dye, at which point they can have it removed. In very rare cases, if the balloon deflates very rapidly, patients could defecate the balloon.
The world of medicine is placing a focus on finding healing methods that do not involve surgery. All surgeries carry great risks with them, but these risks usually don’t outweigh the potential benefits. However, further lowering those risks is now a priority, not in the least because there is such a high demand for weight loss procedures. Furthermore, these procedures are not just less risky to the patient, they are also far less costly.