Plastic surgeons have to turn away patients every day because of their weight. In order to ensure a safe surgery, a potential cosmetic surgery patient should ideally have a BMI or body mass index of 30 or below. Considering that over 2/3 of the adults in this country are either overweight or obese according to the National Institute of Health, this is a big problem.
While there are surgical solutions for the morbidly obese in terms of bariatric surgery, there has never been a great solution for those patients who only need to lose between 20 and 50 pounds, until now. Dr. Grant Stevens of Marina del Rey, CA discusses the Obalon Balloon System, a truly effective non-surgical technique that helps patients finally get rid of that stubborn weight for good.
What is Obalon?
For years, plastic surgeons such as Dr. Stevens have had to turn down patients for surgery because they are overweight. He would tell them that they had to go home and lose 20, 30, 40 pounds before considering a facelift. They would often say, “But doctor, all I do is eat lettuce. Isn’t there any way you can help me?” There has never really been a great solution for these patients other than giving them the name of a personal trainer or dietician.
For the morbidly obese, there are a number of surgical solutions such as the lap band, gastric bypass or gastric sleeve. These techniques are effective, but they all have side effects and none are reversible. This makes them less than ideal for the patient who only needs to lose between 20 and 50 pounds. “We finally have an answer for them,” says Dr. Stevens. Swallow Thin by Obalon is the first and only swallowable, lightweight balloon system for weight loss.
How Does Obalon Work?
The Obalon system is relatively simple. The patient swallows a small capsule that goes into the stomach where the surgeon fills it up with air, not saline, to form a balloon. There is no anesthesia, and no endoscopic exam. The patient then goes home and comes back into the office three weeks later to get a second balloon, and 3-6 weeks after that for a third balloon. So, now the patient has three small balloons in the stomach. He or she sees a dietician once a month either online or in the office.
At the end of 6 months, the balloons are removed. The surgeon places an IV with light sedation, similar to what you would receive during a colonoscopy or MRI, and then uses an endoscope to go down to the stomach, puncture all three balloons and pull them out.
Obalon Results Last
Once the balloons are removed at 6 months, the patient has lost anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds. While fantastic, the truly remarkable thing with Obalon is that these results last. An FDA randomized, sham controlled, double perspective study found that a year later, patients had kept off 90% of their weight.
If a patient lost 20 pounds during their 6 months on Obalon then 6 months after the balloons were removed, the patient was still 18 pounds lighter. During the program, patients relearn how to eat. They relearn satiety. And they learn diet and exercise. “[Obalon] jump started their weight loss. It doubled their weight loss,” explains Dr. Stevens.
In the FDA study, half of the patients got a sugar pill. No one — not the patient, the surgeon, nor the dietician — knew who got the sugar pill and who got the Obalon. In fact, the study even went so far as to make the sound of the air filling up the balloon for those patients who got the sham. The amazing thing is even the patients who got the sugar pill lost weight. However, the ones who got the actual balloon lost twice as much weight.
Weight Loss is Necessary Business
Weight loss is big business, but it’s also necessary business. While it is estimated that Americans will spend over 60 billion dollars this year alone on losing weight, many of these techniques and programs don’t work. What makes Obalon a game changer is that it is quick, easy and effective works. Patients lose the weight and keep it off.
Losing weight is not just good for the way that your body looks, it is also good for your health. Being even slightly overweight can increase a person’s risk of:
- type 2 diabetes
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- certain types of cancer
Obalon is an important addition to the weight loss business because it gives patients who really need to lose weight, but who are not morbidly obese, an effective method for taking off the weight with long lasting results. When the weight falls off, cosmetic improvement can begin!