Saturday, November 07, 2015

Weight loss balloon - a good or very bad idea?

The news today, announced a "new" device, for losing weight. Basically, the patient swallows a pill which is attached to a long tiny tube catheter device.  When it gets down to the stomach, the medical provider pumps distilled buffered water into the pill through the catheter, which causes it to swell, not leaving much room in the stomach for food.  This is supposed to make the patient feel full and want to eat less.  The water in the device supposedly, leaks out in about 4 months ("if all goes well") and then the deflated pill passes hopefully, through the digestive tract and out through the bowel. As the article stated:

"If all goes as planned, the resulting grapefruit-sized (19-ounce) ball of water fills the stomach and significantly curbs the amount of food someone can eat before feeling satiated."
     This was tested on 30 some patients, who lost an average of 22 lbs.  And has not been approved by the FDA as yet.
     They are advertising it as "non invasive" and non surgical.
     But (and there always is a "but" right?), from where I sit, I can see lots of problems with it - like for example, a non food item like that could cause an gastric obstruction or other problems,  and... what if it doesn't deflate, what if it doesn't "pass out" through bowel, like it's supposed to etc etc.
     And the idea that a full stomach makes us feel like eating less is thought to be somewhat erroneous as we now are pretty certain, the appetite originates in the brain and NOT the stomach.  And that means, even if you have this device in your stomach, you still can be very hungry (and very frustrated if you cannot eat much or the food you ate isn't going down right... another 'elephant in the room' not discussed in the promo).
     One of the patients on my discussion group, had a type of balloon device and he suffered so much with it that he considered the invasive gastric bypass as far more comfortable.
     This device costs anywhere from $6000 to $10,000 bucks and insurance will not cover it.
     As the old saying goes "buyer beware" (and DH added "If it doesn't work, you can't just bring it back to the store!")