Orbera Intragastric Balloon for nonsurgical weight loss treatment

February 11, 2016 Judy Y. Chen, MD

People who are obese have a new treatment option for weight loss: the intragastric balloon.The intragastric balloon is different from other bariatric (weight-loss) treatments because it doesn’t require surgery, and it’s a temporary treatment, usually lasting about six months.

More than one-third of Americans adults, or about 78.6 million people, are obese, and the intragastric balloon can be a safe and effective weight loss option for many of them.  At Swedish, we use the Orbera balloon. Research has shown that with a tool like an intragastric balloon, a patient can lose an average of 3.1 times more weight than with diet and exercise alone.

Who’s a candidate?

The federal Food and Drug Administration recently approved the intragastric balloon for people who have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30kg/m2. Candidates for this procedure also have obesity-related conditions, such as high blood pressure, and have struggled unsuccessfully to lose weight through diet and exercise.

The intragastric balloon is a good option for people who do not qualify for bariatric surgery because they are not morbidly obese. In the long run, this treatment allows patients at risk for worsening obesity and other medical conditions to do something proactive to lose weight.

The procedure

The balloon is inserted into the stomach during a brief outpatient procedure. While the patient is mildly sedated, a bariatric surgeon uses an endoscope to place the balloon by entering through the mouth. There are no incisions during this procedure, and no need for healing time away from work and family.

The intragastric balloon is about the size of a grapefruit and filled with saline. It works by:

  • Encouraging stretch receptors in the stomach to signal fullness
  • Delaying gastric emptying of food
  • Decreasing the overall amount of food in the stomach

intragastric balloon


Creating new habits

During the six months the intragastric balloon is in the stomach, patients work to create sustainable, long-term healthy habits.  At Swedish, our bariatric specialists and dietitians help patients learn to:

  • Eat smaller meals
  • Adopt healthy lifestyle changes

More benefits

When people who are obese lose weight, they can decrease the risks of obesity-related conditions that are among the leading causes of preventable death, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Certain types of cancer

If you or someone you know is struggling with weight and wants to learn more about weight-loss options, contact Swedish Weight Loss Services at 206-215-2090.

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