Like many people who have struggled with their weight, Illinois resident Dana Goossens had tried everything from diet changes to hormone injections to Weight Watchers to lose weight. Nothing stuck until her mother forwarded her an article about the Obalon Balloon System, a new FDA-approved weight-loss program that uses balloons to aid in weight loss.
Patients swallow three inflatable balloons!?
It’s basically exactly what it sounds like: Over a period of six months, patients swallow three inflatable balloons (yes, really) that then expand in their stomachs to take up space and encourage patients to eat less. According to Obalon’s official site, the program is geared toward people with a BMI of more than 30 who have tried to lose weight via diet and exercise, and it’s used in “adjunct to a moderate intensity diet and behavior modification program.” The balloons are removed six months after beginning the procedure.
Tired of the yo-yo dieting, Goossens decided to reach out to the researchers overseeing the clinical trials (at the time, Obalon wasn’t FDA-approved) and managed to snag one of the last spots. In a new essay on Time, she describes the program.
The whole process took about 10 minutes.
“The procedure was surprisingly simple,” she writes. “During the first session, I swallowed a small capsule that was tied to a tiny micro-catheter. The doctor then inflated the balloon once it was in my stomach—it gets to be about the size of an orange—and removed the catheter. The whole process took about 10 minutes. In the beginning, I could tell there was an object inside of me. At night it was a bit more uncomfortable as I could feel the balloon move a bit and squeak, but nothing I couldn’t handle.”
A month later, she swallowed the second balloon, and two months after that, the third one. At the end of the six-month mark, Goossens had lost 40 pounds and says she developed lifestyle changes to help her keep it off.
“I’m hopeful this weight loss is sustainable…By the time the trial ended, I felt confident I could maintain my healthy lifestyle even after getting the balloons removed. And I’ve even lost more weight since then,” she says.
Read the full essay over at Time.