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Weight loss balloon: What we’ve learned

Written By: Emma Squillace

The first gastric balloons – or weight loss balloons – were approved by the FDA for use in the United States in 2015. Since the beginning of the weight loss balloon being available, West Medical has been providing these treatment options. Now in 2017 we’ve had significant experience placing the balloons, and working directly with people who are successfully losing weight and keeping it off. We’d like to share our insights with you today, highlighting the experience of Dr. Hooman, who leads our bariatric team.

The balloon isn’t for everyone, but it’s an important tool

One thing we know is that there is no single way to lose weight that works for everyone. If that were the case, weight loss would be a lot easier. But instead, losing a substantial amount of weight is usually not done without the guidance of medical experts, and weight loss tools. While we’ve been proud to offer bariatric surgery procedures for many years, we are equally excited to have the gastric balloons as other options. Some people we meet are very strong candidates for surgery, and a procedure like the sleeve or bypass is the best choice for them. Others are not good candidates for weight-loss surgery. For some, they do not feel ready for surgery and they want a less invasive choice. For others, their insurance will not cover the surgery and the financial cost is too high. Some do not qualify for surgery, especially if their BMI is less than 35. For these people, and the many patients we see that appreciate having a wider range of options, we are happy to be able to offer weight-loss balloons. Dr. Hooman says, “We are now able to offer a very effective tool to weight loss for patients that don’t qualify for surgery. Years ago we didn’t have this many options.  Patients have been very happy with the balloon.”

Weight loss with the balloon takes work

Although the gastric balloons are strong choices in terms of giving patients a tool to aid with weight loss, at the end of the day there is still hard work involved in success. Dr. Hooman says that patients find it easier to lose weight with the balloon “because it cuts down on their appetite and portions.  Our dedicated dietitians work very closely with patients after placement to ensure maximal benefits of the balloon.” We’ve found this work between the weight loss team and the patient is critical to reaching a goal weight.  Dr. Hooman also says that he sees the most success with those patients who are able to avoid liquid calories, find exercise they can stick with, and make healthy food choices. Why is this combination so successful? “Because it leads to significant fat loss and muscle gain,” says Dr. Hooman.

Something else that patients tend to like about the balloon, is that there are really no foods that are completely off-limits. If you’re at a birthday party and want to have a little bit of cake, this is certainly your option. The balloon helps you find balance. So if you have a small portion of cakes, make sure that night you have a light dinner of lean protein and some vegetables. What’s great about the lessons learned with weight-loss balloons, is that these are the same lessons that allow patients to maintain their weight loss after the balloons are removed.

The balloon can break the cycle

Dr. Hooman says that many of the patients who choose a weight loss balloon are serial dieters who have lost and gained weight for years or decades.  They’re at the point where they’ve almost given up on their abilities to succeed at weight-loss. When they try the balloon, in many cases things are different. “When you see the transformation of someone who loses 30-50 pounds in just 6 months,” Dr. Hooman says, “you feel their sense of pride and confidence.  They have more energy, less pain, and are more active.  They look forward to going out, and shopping for clothes.” Breaking the cycle of failed weight loss attempts is the primary goal for our weight-loss experts. Many times people look back on the day they had either bariatric surgery or weight loss balloon placed, and they say it was the first day of the rest of their lives.

At West Medical we offer several different options for weight loss balloons. If you’d like to come in and talk to us more about these choices, and whether a gastric balloon is a good option for you, give us a call today at (855) 690-0565.

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