Dr. Julie Ellner
A new FDA-approved procedure is now being offered in San Diego for weight-loss. The gastric “belly” balloon is a non-surgical, outpatient procedure that has been shown to be up to three times more effective for weight loss than those who do diet and exercise alone. It is a non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical means of creating a profound sense of fullness.
One of the reasons why people hit a weight-loss plateau is because dieting alone increases chemical hunger. This is a way to relieve the hunger and be successful without surgery or drugs.
In this 10-minute procedure, I insert a deflated silicone balloon through the patient’s mouth into the stomach with an endoscope. Once inserted, it is inflated with sterile saline. Inflated, the balloon is about the size of a grapefruit about one third the size of the stomach. This creates a feeling of fullness and helps patients moderate food intake. The procedure is performed under IV sedation, so the patients go home right away, with a profound sense of fullness.
After six months of using the balloon to learn successful behaviors and losing the weight, the balloon is removed. Patients continue with another six months of follow-up with me, as I help them stay on track with their new behaviors to maintain their weight.
Most weight is lost in the first three months, but because the gastric balloon stays in for six months, patients have more opportunity to learn the right amount of food to eat to maintain their new weight, or even lose more weight.
The balloon has been available for almost two decades outside of the U.S. and has proven successful in over 80 European and other countries. For millions of people who want to lose weight without surgery, it gives them the boost they need.
The balloon is gaining in popularity because it helps those who are overweight, but don’t qualify for or don’t want surgery. For years, it has been those stuck in the middle – needing to lose more weight than can be accomplished with dieting, but not heavy enough to need surgery – who had no viable options. The balloon helps bridge the gap between diet failure and major surgery.
The FDA has approved the balloon for those with a Body Mass Index between 30 and 40. However, many people in the lower weight categories, wanting to lose up to 50 pounds, receive the balloon and are extremely successful. I consider all applicants carefully, on a case-by-case basis.
I will be hosting a free seminar for those who want to learn more on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 6 p.m., at 5555 Reservoir Drive, Suite 203, San Diego 92120. RSVP by phone to 619-286-7866 or 800-258-2723, or online at BellyBalloonDoctor.com or AlvaradoHospital.com.
—Dr. Julie Ellner, M.D. is a bariatric surgeon who works with Alvarado Hospital and specializes in weight loss.