A weight loss pill that releases a gastric balloon into a patient’s stomach when it is swallowed has been launched in the UK.
While other gastric balloons require invasive surgery, the new 10-minute treatment involves the patient consuming a capsule the size of a large vitamin.
When the capsule containing the balloon reaches the patient’s stomach, the ball is inflated to the size of an apple using an attached micro-catheter – a type of thin medical tube. The capsule then dissolves.
Similarly to other gastric weight-loss treatments, as the balloon sits on top of the patient’s stomach they feel full, and therefore eat less and should lose weight.
Patients consume a second balloon 30 days later, and, depending on their progress, can receive a third balloon after further 30 days.
When the treatment is over, the balloons are deflated and removed using a thin, long, flexible tube which is inserted into the patient’s throat.
The balloons are considered to be short-term treatments in comparison to other invasive gastric weight-loss procedures.
The method is recommended for people with a body mass index of 27, meaning they would be generally classified obese according the the index.
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Clinical trials in the UK and in the US of the product known as Obalon, have shown that patients can lose an average of 1st, 3lbs (7.7kg) in 12 weeks.
Trials also showed that around 7 per cent of patients had some side-effects including vomiting, cramps and reflux, which generally subsided within a day or so.
43-year-old Helene Fleckney from Shenley in Hertfordshire who has undergone the treatment, said: “[A]history of heart disease and diabetes runs in my family, so I knew I had to take action with my weight gain to lower my risk of susceptibility.
"Obalon has proved an easy and quick treatment to help me lose weight. I'm not even fully through the treatment process yet and I've already lost a stone.
"I'm looking forward to eating more healthily, doing more exercise and ensuring my weight loss struggles are a thing of the past."
Obalon starts at £2,995 for two-balloons, and is currently available at some private hospitals, but not on the NHS.
However, Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, told Sky News that prevention was a better method: "What you really have to do is to do everything you can to maintain a proper weight, healthy living, healthy lifestyle so you never get up to a BMI of 27."
Sally Norton, a Consultant Nurse at Spire Hospital, said: “I've been monitoring Obalon's progress over the last few years as I was very excited about the potential it could offer those patients who do not qualify for weight loss surgery but are struggling to lose weight and improve their health on their own.
“It gives patients an initial weight-loss boost but also helps to change their eating behaviour - which is needed for long-term, weight-loss.”
Additional reporting by Press Association