Gastric balloon implant helps weight-loss patients find new life - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Gastric balloon implant helps weight-loss patients find new life with old medical technique

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The out-patient procedure takes about a half-hour. The balloon is fed down the patient's throat and into the stomach, where it's filled with saline. The out-patient procedure takes about a half-hour. The balloon is fed down the patient's throat and into the stomach, where it's filled with saline.
an Orbera Balloon. an Orbera Balloon.
A diagram shows how the balloon is inserted into the stomach and then inflated with saline solution. A diagram shows how the balloon is inserted into the stomach and then inflated with saline solution.
Step by step, Leicole Moore is heading down a life-changing path. Step by step, Leicole Moore is heading down a life-changing path.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Step by step, Leicole Moore is heading down a life-changing path.

"Every day when I get home from work, I get on the treadmill for at least 30 minutes -- every day," Moore said. "I never did that before. I didn't have the motivation...I was tired all the time."

That all changed about a month ago, when Leicole became the first in Louisville to undergo a procedure just approved by the FDA.  She had what's called an Orbera Balloon placed in her stomach.  

Medical Director of Bariatrics at Baptist Health Louisville John Oldham performed the procedure.

"The balloon is for people with a BMI between 30 and 40," Oldham explained. "Somebody who is really not ready for surgery, or not really wanting to go to that point to do that surgery, so this is somewhere in between."

Putting a balloon in someone's stomach isn't exactly a new idea, they were used in the U.S. back in the 1980s. But because of problems with those balloons and other weight loss devices like lap bands, the government was being extra cautious this time.

"Over 220,000 have been put in worldwide and it's been very safe," Oldham said. "So, this balloon has been studied extensively."

The out-patient procedure takes about a half-hour. The balloon is fed down the patient's throat and into the stomach, where it's filled with saline. After six months, it's removed.

"The goal is to have patients eating these small portions, getting used to that fullness feeling and eating the right foods," said Oldham. "Then, after the balloon is taken out, to continue that type of eating."

Dr. Oldham says the average patient has lost 22 pounds. Leicole says after failed diet drugs and dieting, she's already dropped 20. She hopes to lose five more and she's confident she'll keep it off.

"Six months of doing the same thing every day, it kind of trains your mind and your stomach and what you should not eat," Moore said. "It's not hard...because once you start losing weight and you start feeling good and you start having a lot of energy. I mean, it just feels great."

Doctor Oldham says those who have gotten the balloon are three and a half times more likely to keep the weight off than those who just exercise and diet.

But on the downside, the Orbera Balloon comes at a pretty steep price of $7,500 and isn't covered by insurance. 

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