Gastric balloons are safe and effective ways to help other lifestyle interventions that encourage overall weight loss. New research has shown that those who use a gastric balloon device as part of their overall journey have greater successes and find it easier to maintain weight loss as well. Indeed, even after removal of the balloon, people are able to sustain their weight loss.
Essentially, the gastric balloon device is something that is in between bariatric surgery and losing weight through lifestyle changes alone. It is more effective than the latter, but not as expensive as the first. It should also be beneficial for underserved populations who, for whatever reason, cannot access surgery.
The findings were presented at the Digestive Disease Week.
Understanding the Gastric Balloon
A gastric balloon is placed through an endoscope and is done on an outpatient basis. Once in place, it is filled with saline. This makes the patient feel full, which is vital in effective weight loss.
A recent study looked at findings across 15 different centers nationwide. They looked specifically at how safe and how efficient the balloons were, specifically in adults with a BMI of between 30 and 40 kg per square meter. In the study, they looked specifically at the Orbera balloon system, which has recently been approved by the FDA but has already been successfully used in around a quarter of a million people across the world over the past 17 years.
Various control measures were put in place and it was found that at intervals of three months, weight loss was much better in those who had a balloon placed than in those who did not.
In the study, the balloon was removed from the control group after six months. At this point, they had lost 10% of their weight. Those without a balloon had lost just 4%. At 12 months (six months after removing the balloon), both groups had maintained their weight loss.
The percentage of excess weight loss at six months was better in the balloon group as well (40% versus 13%). This was also maintained at 12 months.
After nine months, so once the balloon had been removed for three months, 45.6% of participants from the balloon group had a 15% higher excess weight loss than those in the control group. This was twice as high as the threshold set by the researchers. Furthermore, they had a 26.5% excess weight loss in that same time period, also surpassing the threshold.
It was also noted that severity of illnesses associated with obesity, such as hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia, was lower in both the balloon group and the control group. However, in the balloon group, this reduction was higher.
Finally, there was a notable improvement in quality of life, and particularly in the balloon group. The greatest improvement in quality of life, using the Beck Depression Inventory scale, was at one year after the insertion of the balloon.