Have you ever found yourself wishing scientists would invent a pill you could take that would make weight loss easier? Well, now there is such a thing. It’s known as Obalon, the FDA-approved gastric balloon system you swallow like a pill.
Obalon is considered a non-surgical weight-loss option. That makes it ideal if you are overweight or obese and are not yet ready to commit to bariatric surgery. There are no incisions, no anesthesia, nor is there any downtime. You simply swallow the balloon system and off you go. That’s the balloon system explained in simple terms.
The system does get a bit more complicated than that, however, so here are the details. We’re going to discuss the ideal candidates for the procedure, how Obalon helps you lose weight, how long the treatment lasts, how much it costs, and where it can be found at a bariatric surgeon’s office near you.
Whom is the Obalon Gastric Balloon System Meant For?
You would be a prime candidate for Obalon if you are over the age of 22 and have tried everything but the kitchen sink to lose weight, only to no avail. When you reach a weight that is considered overweight or obese (body mass index of 30 to 40), weight loss becomes downright difficult.
Read our article: What Does Body Mass Index Mean and How is It Calculated?
You might exercise until you are blue in the face and struggle with reducing your calories, but the extra weight you’re carrying almost always remains. Even if you manage some weight loss, the pounds usually come back. In some cases, you end up gaining more than you lost. How frustrating!
Obalon seeks to solve your weight loss problem by helping the excess pounds melt away. Here’s how it works.
How Does Obalon Help You Lose Weight?
The Obalon gastric balloon system uses three balloons total during a six-month period. Each balloon is swallowed, where it finds a home inside your stomach. Once the balloons are nestled in place, they take up valuable space that is usually reserved for the food you eat. This helps you eat less and feel fuller faster during meals.
At the beginning of the treatment, your doctor places the first Obalon balloon into your stomach. The second gets placed around a month later, followed by the third two-to-three months into your treatment.
All three gastric balloons are meant to remain in your stomach for three months after the third is placed for a total treatment time of six months.
The Obalon system is not meant to work on its own. You must do your part by striving to eat healthily and getting regular exercise. Your doctor helps you along by placing you on a medically supervised diet and exercise program for the first six months. You are then to continue that program for another six months after the Obalon balloons are removed from your stomach for a total of twelve months.
How Do You Prepare for the Obalon System?
You’ll first schedule a consultation with the doctor, which includes a medical exam and assessment of your medical history. You may also have blood tests and other examinations to determine if you are the right candidate for a system like Obalon.
If you have been cleared for the balloon system, a treatment plan will be devised for you, which includes a medically supervised dietary plan and exercise routine. You may also find yourself meeting with a dietician or nutritionist who can devise ways to help you stick to your weight loss goals.
The Obalon Procedure Explained
When you are ready to accept Obalon into your body, you will be given the first balloon by your doctor in pill form. The balloon is folded into the capsule with a catheter attached. You swallow the balloon capsule along with a glass of water. Your doctor will hold onto the catheter during this time to ensure the end remains outside of your mouth.
Your doctor then uses ultrasound technology to ensure the capsule is firmly in place inside your stomach. Only then is the balloon inflated.
How Does the Obalon Balloon Get Inflated?
The balloon is inflated with gas using the catheter that is still outside of your mouth. The catheter is then removed. It’s as simple as that. There is no downtime, which means you can go about your everyday activities like normal.
The entire procedure takes around ten minutes, with no sedation required.
After the first balloon is placed, your doctor will schedule appointments for the placement of the following two balloons, which are usually placed a month apart.
From the very first day, you will be required to follow a diet and exercise program, which helps the excess weight come off more easily.
The other two balloons are placed the same way, with you swallowing a pill before the balloons are inflated.
What Does the Obalon Balloon Feel Like Inside Your Stomach?
Once each balloon is placed in your stomach, you’ll notice that you don’t feel as hungry as before. The balloons are smooth and non-toxic, so you won’t notice the balloons themselves very much. You’ll only know that you can only eat smaller portions and less food overall before you begin to feel full. The Obalon system is designed to teach you how to eat more sensible portions, which is part of living a healthier lifestyle.
The three balloons not only take up room in your stomach, but they also affect the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin. With less ghrelin being produced, your hunger levels diminish significantly. This means you won’t feel deprived as you normally would when cutting the number of calories you eat. The complete system helps you lose weight quickly and safely.
How Are the Obalon Balloons Removed?
When the six-month treatment period has expired, it will be time to remove all three balloons from your stomach. Light sedation is sometimes used for this part of the procedure. Don’t worry, you’ll be conscious throughout each step.
Once the sedation has taken effect, an endoscopic tube with a camera attached is inserted into your esophagus. Using the scope, your doctor deflates each balloon and removes them one by one using a specialized tool. This part of the procedure takes around fifteen minutes and comes with minimal downtime.
How Much Weight Can You Lose with the Obalon Balloon System?
By using the nonsurgical Obalon gastric balloon system, you stand to lose between 7% to 15% of your body weight during the six months. Total weight loss amounts to an average of 30% to 47% of your body weight.
Keep in mind that the more you stick to the diet and exercise program during the twelve-month period, the more weight you stand to lose. You’ll also keep the weight off if you can manage to alter your lifestyle enough to eat healthily and exercise over the long term.
Read our article: How to Keep Lost Weight Off Long Term
Studies have shown that losing weight through systems like Obalon may also help with obesity comorbidities. Ailments that may improve or resolve after the use of Obalon include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoarthritis (joint pain), obstructive sleep apnea, high cholesterol, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and type 2 diabetes.
How Can You Ensure Success with Obalon?
The best way to ensure maximum weight loss with the Obalon gastric balloon is to follow the diet and exercise plan. This plan is aimed at helping you schedule your meals, eat sensible portions, and choose nutrient-dense foods while eliminating fast food, sodas, and other junk foods.
Read our article: Gastric Balloon Dietary Guidelines for Astonishing Weight Loss
For exercise, your doctor will help you choose a routine that is easy on your body and that can be ramped up over time as you become stronger, more limber, and more capable of handling a fitness program that works long-term.
Are There Any Risks to the Obalon System?
Most people are able to tolerate the three Obalon gastric balloons without issue throughout the six-month treatment period. In one-third of people, pain and nausea can accompany the insertion of gastric balloons. If you do encounter discomfort, over-the-counter medications can help at home.
Serious side effects are rare and include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. If you encounter any of these issues, you are encouraged to contact your doctor immediately.
One significant risk of any gastric balloon system is sudden deflation inside the stomach. If deflation occurs, there is a risk that the loose balloon could move through your digestive system. If this happens, a blockage could result, which could require surgery to remove.
Overinflation of the balloon is another risk factor, along with ulcers, a hole in the stomach wall, and acute pancreatitis, all of which may also require surgery to repair.
You can reduce risks to your health by choosing a doctor experienced in the Obalon gastric balloon system.
Are There Any Reasons to Avoid the Obalon Weight Loss System?
Before you are cleared for Obalon, your doctor will review your medical history. This is necessary for identifying any risk factors that could hinder the system from working properly. Risk factors your doctor will look for include a history of bariatric surgery, a history of gastrointestinal surgery, a history of GI medicine, disabilities, and disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, and a current H. pylori infection.
You would also be denied treatment for Obalon if you have a history of an eating disorder.
How Much Does the Obalon System Cost?
The Obalon gastric balloon system costs between $6,000 and $9,000. Your total cost may vary. You can get a more accurate quote during your consultation with an Obalon-certified doctor or bariatric surgeon.
Read our article: What to Expect from Your Weight Loss Surgery Consultation?
Is Obalon Covered by Insurance?
Even though Obalon is FDA-approved for weight loss, insurance companies still view the procedure as an elective. That means you are unlikely to get coverage from your insurance provider for the Obalon weight loss system. That isn’t a definitive answer, however. You are encouraged to contact your insurance provider to inquire about your policy benefits and to determine if Obalon is covered. Anything is possible.
There is always medical financing that can help you pay for the procedure now while worrying about covering the total costs over time. Many lenders like Care Credit give you a year with no financing. This can help you afford procedures that would normally be financially out of reach. Care Credit is only one example. Ask your doctor for information at the front desk. The staff can usually help you apply in the office, allowing you to get approval in seconds. You’ll then be able to pay for the procedure right there and then, giving you a chance to start on your weight loss journey without delay.
Are You Ready to Start on Your Obalon Weight Loss Journey?
If you have been trying to lose weight but nothing has worked, Obalon may be right for you. The Obalon system is the only swallowable FDA-approved gastric balloon system that can help you lose weight and keep it off.
To qualify for Obalon, you must be over the age of 22 with a BMI of 30 to 40 and no history of bariatric surgery. You must also be willing to follow a diet and exercise program that works alongside the Obalon gastric balloon weight loss system.
Find out if you’re a viable candidate for Obalon by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki of Healthy Life Bariatrics. We are located in Los Angeles, California, and look forward to helping you reclaim your health in a safe and healthy way.
Get started by booking your appointment with Dr. Moein. You can reach us by dialing 310-694-4486. Ask about our medical tourism program for those living outside the L.A. area.