BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A pair of balloons could help thousands of people meet their weight loss goals. The ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System was approved by the FDA on July 28, and it will soon be available in south Louisiana.
ReShape is a combination of a minimally invasive, nonsurgical procedure and a 12-month counseling program that focuses on diet and exercise. It's suggested for those who are considered overweight but not obese.
"We really haven't had something to help them lose weight before," said Dr. Thomas Lavin. "The people that wouldn't be considered morbidly obese by the insurance companies, but they have that extra 25 to 50, 60 pounds they've tried forever to get off."
Lavin runs Surgical Specialists of Louisiana and is the first doctor in the state to offer the procedure.
The two connected balloons are snaked into the stomach through the mouth during an endoscopic procedure that takes about 20 minutes. Patients are given mild sedation. Once in place, the balloons are filled with saline solution. They stay in the stomach for six months, making the patient feel full more quickly.
In a clinical trial, patients lost an average of 2.3 times more weight than those in the control group, or an average of 14 pounds. About 15 percent opted to remove the balloons early due to nausea.
"We tell patients to get ready, because this is going to be a total change," Lavin explained. "So the first two or three days they will have this new balloon in their stomach, it's uncomfortable. They do have some nausea. So it is a rough day or two, but that is in exchange for losing weight over the six months."
Patients meet with a nutritionist once a month, are given a FitBit activity tracker, and set up on a fitness plan with an online portal to manage their progress. The counseling continues for another six months after the balloons are removed in the same way they were inserted.
"It's not a magic wand or a magic pill where there's no work involved. This takes work, but it does give patients a very effective way to lose weight and a chance to re-educate and keep that weight off," Lavin said.
He added that it's not an alternative to bariatric surgery like lap-band or gastric sleeve. ReShape may work best for those who need to drop fewer pounds in a short-term period.
The cost for the procedure and 12 months of counseling is $7,500. It's not likely to be covered by insurance companies in the foreseeable future.
Dr. Lavin is currently accepting patients for consultation and will begin performing the ReShape procedure in Metairie in mid-September.
Click here for more information or call 1-877-856-6096.