Swallowable Gastric Balloon Can Help Lose Weight Without Surgery

Scientists in Rome have suggested a simple yet effective way to curb obesity without a surgery- swallow a balloon with a glass of water! Wait, these are not those colorful balloons we use for decorating any event but a swallowable gastric balloon that can be used as a non-surgical intervention to assist in substantial weight loss.

The gastric balloons or intragastric balloons (IGBs) are actually devices that can be inserted into the stomach where they are inflated with a sterile saline solution. These devices enable obese people to easily adhere to a low calorie diet by inducing feelings of fullness (satiety). All IGBs, up til now, required endoscopy and anaesthesia to be implanted in the stomach.

Now a new study by Dr Roberta Ienca, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, and colleagues has revealed a weight-loss balloon which can be swallowed with a glass of water rather than surgically inserted.

The new swallowable IGB, named Elipse Balloon, is developed by US-based Allurion Technologies.

The Elipse balloon is swallowed with a glass of water. After reaching the stomach, the balloon inflates and helps seriously obese patients shed extra kilos in just four months. Elipse balloon is believed to be the first gastric balloon that can be inserted and removed without the need of an endoscopy and/or anaesthesia.

In a small trial, the non-surgical Elipse balloon found to help obese patients lose weight safely and effectively.

For the trial, a total of 42 obese patients- 29 men and 13 women- were enrolled, who were fitted with balloons that were swallowed under fluoroscopy, an imaging technique that uses X-rays to obtain real-time moving images of the interior of an object, before being inflated with 550 millilitres (mL) of liquid.

“A catheter is attached to the balloon, which is folded into a capsule,” Ienca explained.

The liquid is filled into the Swallowable Gastric Balloon through this tiny tube, which is then removed via the mouth with a tug. The balloons remained in the stomach for 16 weeks. During the study period patients were instructed to strictly follow a low-carb, low-calorie diet pattern, and in the last 4 weeks of treatment, a very low calorie ketogenic diet (VLCKD) was introduced to enhance weight loss.

The results showed, study subjects shed 15.2kg after 16 weeks, which amounted to 31 percent of excess weight, and an average BMI reduction was 4.9 kg/m2. No serious side effects were recorded in the study.

Likewise, at 4, 8 and 12 weeks the subjects showed a mean weight reduction of 5.4 kg, 8.9 kg and 11.5 kg, respectively. Also, in the VLCKD period, a mean weight loss of 3.7 kg was observed.

“The Elipse Balloon appears to be a safe and effective weight loss method. Furthermore, the introduction of a VLCKD improves weight loss. Because the Elipse Balloon does not require endoscopy, surgery or anaesthesia, this may make it suitable for a larger population of obese patients not responding to diet/lifestyle treatment,” Dr Ienca concluded.

The new Swallowable Gastric Balloon is revealed at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Porto, Portugal (17-20 May).