New Weight Loss Tool Helps People Shed Pounds

Swallow a balloon, lose weight

An FDA-approved, non-surgical weight loss tool is now available to men and women in North Texas hoping to shed more than a few pounds.

The Obalon Balloon System is a swallowable balloon system that inflates inside the person's stomach, keeping them full from overeating.

Patients swallow a pill that contains the balloon, and once inside the stomach, the balloon is filled with nitrogen gas mixture.

Dr. Sachin Kukreja, a bariatric surgeon at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, says the system consists of three balloons swallowed two weeks apart.

"While the balloons are in, they take up about three quarters of the stomach to limit how much people eat and how full they may get," Kukreja said.

All balloons are removed through an upper endoscopy six months after the first balloon is placed.

Eric Wilson swallowed his first balloon two weeks ago and has already lost 10 pounds.

"The so-called 'dad bod' is in full effect, and I want to get rid of that," said Wilson, a father of three.

On average, patients lose about 30 pounds with the balloons, which is Wilson's goal.

He says diet and exercise worked to an extent, but believes the balloon will help him kick junk food to the curb for good.

"I've always kind of fallen off the bandwagon, if you will, so this is kind of a little longer term motivation for me," Wilson said.

He experienced minor stomach cramping in the first few days after the procedure but now says he forgets the balloon is in his stomach.

In studies, 90 percent of patients kept the weight off after the balloons were removed for at least six months, but Kukreja said there's no long-term data available.

"We know it's safe and innovative, but with anything new, we should proceed with caution," he said.

The balloon system is not covered by insurance, costs between $6,000-$7,000 and should be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise.

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