PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Many people who are obese and can’t lose weight on their own turn to bariatric surgery.
However, for people who are afraid of surgery or who think the idea is just too radical, there soon may be a new option.
“As we know, the numbers are getting out of control, and something needs to be done just beyond surgeries or giving a pill,” Dr. George Eid, a surgeon, said.
Doctors at certain Allegheny Health Network hospitals are studying a balloon that takes up space in your stomach. The thought is you’ll feel fuller faster, and won’t eat as much.
Patients will swallow the balloon pill uninflated. An X-rays confirm it’s in the right place. The attached tube is hooked up to an air canister and it gets pumped up.
A total of three, undigestable balloons will be put in — one every few weeks. They stay there for six months, and then they are deflated and removed with a tube through the mouth.
Some rare risks include injury to the esophagus and the inserts deflating on their own and blocking the intestines.
The device is approved in Europe, but studies must be done in the United States for FDA approval. In Europe, people lose about 10 to 15 percent of their body weight.
“As of now, we don’t have [many] options. Yeah, you have to have a higher BMI to qualify for surgery, but we know there are millions, actually 50-60 million people out there who need help who are either overweight, or have class one obesity, who have diabetes and other medical problems, that they are struggling and need some help,” Dr. Eid said.
Canonsburg Hospital is one of 15 medical centers across the country taking part. Doctors here need about 20 patients.
Half will get the actual balloon, while the other half will get a balloon made of sugar, which will simply dissolve in the stomach.
Participants must come in for follow up appointments every three weeks for a year.
To qualify, you must be between 20 and 60 years of age with a body mass index of 30 to 40 and no prior bariatric or abdominal surgery.
Results are expected in early 2016. These will be brought before the FDA for consideration.