The FDA has recently approved three intra-gastric balloon devices for the treatment of obesity in patients with BMI of 30-40. Marketed as Orbera, ReShape, and Obalon, they are inserted inside the stomach and then inflated to a pre-set volume. Their function is to occupy space, leading to an earlier sensation of fullness. Orbera is a single larger balloon inserted by endoscopy (EGD) under sedation/anesthesia. ReShape is performed similarly except that it looks like a dumbbell consisting of two smaller balloons connected by a bridge. Once inside the stomach, they are inflated with a dyed solution to a certain volume. The Obalon, in contrast, is a large ‘pill’ connected to a tube which is swallowed and subsequently inflated by a gas cartridge to which it is connected by a tube. Its insertion does not require endoscopy. This has to be done three times over the course of several weeks since each balloon is smaller than the Orbera or ReShape. There are pros/cons to each balloon and each manufacture obviously touts their product’s superiority over others. Common to all three, however, is the need for endoscopic removal at 6 months as they cannot stay longer due to a variety of serious risks. The gastric balloons are not covered by any healthplans at this time due to lack of longer term data even though they have been marketed overseas for a very long time.
Gastric balloons are offered through our practice. If you are interested in knowing more about them, you are required to attend one of our bariatric surgery seminars where all current surgical and interventional treatments for morbid obesity are discussed. You can find out about the time and location of the next seminar by clicking here.