Swallowable balloon offers weight loss without surgery

A swallowable balloon to create feelings of fullness is being suggested as a non-surgical weight loss solution. A re-analysis of results of 273 trials involving 2152 patients aged 18 to 65 with body mass index (BMI) measurements of 32 to 38, suggested the balloon could produce a 12 per cent reduction in body weight and up 49 per cent reduction in excess body weight. 

“Our study showed that the balloon reduces waist circumference and triglyceride levels and [is] associated with less adverse events when compared with other intragastric balloons,” said the authors of the study from the University of Utah school of medicine in Salt Lake City. 

The device, called the Allurion intragastric balloon, is compressed into a small capsule that is connected to a thin catheter and swallowed.

It is then inflated with 550ml of liquid through the catheter to create a feeling of fullness and help control hunger.The procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis in approximately 20 minutes, potentially avoiding the burden and extra costs of surgery. After about four months, the balloon is designed to empty through a valve that spontaneously opens, and the balloon itself passes out through the digestive system. Though currently used around the world, the balloon does not yet have approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Although Allurion use has been associated with a 10cm reduction in waist circumference and improved triglyceride levels, use of gastric balloons remains controversial. 

The devices have been associated with abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and bowel obstructions. Worldwide, their use has been linked to 18 deaths. First author Daryl Ramai the lead author of the Utah study said concern about use of gastric balloons was valid but he said: ”Theoretically, since the Allurion balloon is placed for a shorter time span, it is conceivable that there may be less adverse events. However, comparative trials are needed to confirm this. Type and duration of intragastric balloons should be tailored to the patient. Clinicians should thoroughly discuss the benefits and risks of using an intragastric balloon. Furthermore, placement of intragastric balloons should only be attempted by clinicians with expertise in bariatric endoscopy.” To read more CLICK HERE

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