New weight loss method involves swallowing balloons, may prevent obesity

Lauren Glassberg Image
Thursday, August 3, 2017
New weight loss method involves swallowing balloons, may prevent obesity
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Lauren Glassberg has the details on a new weight loss method that involves swallowing balloons.

FISHKILL, New York (WABC) -- About a year ago, Cathy Adler noticed she was gaining weight and couldn't lose it. So, three weeks ago, the 65-year-old Fishkill resident swallowed the first of three balloons. Then, two weeks in she swallowed the second balloon.

Once the balloons are down, Adler's gastroenterologist pumped a nitrogen air mixture through a catheter to inflate the balloon in her stomach and then removes the catheter. The balloons help keep the patient feeling full.

Dr. Anthony Starpoli has used other stomach balloons on patients but this one, Obalon, is the first balloon that is swallowed and it's filled with air, as opposed to liquid. Three balloons are swallowed over a three-month period.

"I'd like to think of these balloons as being used in the earliest phases of obesity to prevent people from getting to a point where perhaps the balloon is not enough," Dr. Starpoli said.

In Obalon trials, nearly 90-percent of participants have kept the weight off at the year mark. Usually they lose about 7-percent of their body weight. Adler is aiming for more than that.

"I'd like to lose about 30 pounds, that's a big goal," she said.

That big goal comes with a price tag of about $8,000. That includes nutritional and behavioral counseling and an endoscopy to remove the balloons at the 6-month mark.

"I have to do this for me. Not my daughters, grandkids, my husband. I have to do it for me," Adler said.