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Gastric balloon you can SWALLOW can help slimmers shed third of their weight in just four months with no surgery

Mirror logo Mirror 20/05/2017 Andrew Gregory

© PR Handout Scientists have developed a swallowable balloon that could help millions of Brits lose weight.

The hi-tech gastric balloon - which you swallow as a simple pill before it is inflated - fills up your stomach to make you feel full and then deflates itself after four months.

Details of what is being hailed as the magic bullet for slimmers will be presented today at the world’s biggest obesity conference in Porto, Portugal.

Incredible trial results found the 15-minute balloon operation was “safe and effective” and triggered “substantial weight loss” in obese patients.

On average, those who use the treatment shed a third of their excess body weight. Patients aged between 27 and 67 each lost an average of 15.2kg (2st 4lbs).

It has already been approved for use in the UK and could help those who find it impossible to shed the pounds through normal diets.

Experts said that millions of Brits could eventually benefit from the simple pill.

Unlike existing gastric products, no surgery is required to insert or remove it.

Dr Roberta Ienca, of Sapienza University of Rome, who led the study, said:

“Because the Elipse Balloon does not require endoscopy, surgery or anaesthesia, this may make it suitable for a larger population of obese patients not responding to diet or lifestyle treatment.”

Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Getty Dr Ienca told the Daily Mirror that all the patients also enjoyed “improvements in overall metabolic health including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar control”.

She described the reaction of patients to the device as “incredible”.

She said: “They are very happy about the results they were able to achieve.

"During my daily phone contacts with my patients, they shared with me their pictures and the amount of weight they lost.

“They are very satisfied with the results achieved day after day.”

Speaking at the the European Congress on Obesity in Porto, Portugal, Dr Ienca added that it could also be fitted in patients “by a variety of clinicians - nutritionists, dietitians, and internists - who currently do not have access to or are qualified to fit endoscopic or surgical weight loss devices.”

The patient swallows a tiny pill containing the deflated Elipse balloon, which is made from a delicate polymer film.

A catheter is attached and once the pill has reached the stomach, a doctor fills the balloon with 550ml of water through the catheter, then tugs on the tube to detach it.

The filled balloon takes up a large part of the stomach, reducing appetite and improving the patient’s odds of shedding weight.

And after 16 weeks, a valve in the polymer film opens and the balloon collapses. It passes out normally through the digestive system.

Previously, most existing gastric balloons rely on a surgeon putting the device in the stomach using an internal probe while the patient is sedated or under anaesthetic.

It also has to be removed during surgery the same way.

Two in three Brits are overweight or obese.

It is not yet available on the NHS but is available through some private weight loss clinics in the UK.

The NHS is already trialling similar balloon pills to the one in the study presented in Porto.

The cost for the full treatment varies between £2,200 and £3,400 - less than half the cost of gastric band surgery.

The balloon pill has the potential to provide “significant cost savings”

for the NHS and save billions of pounds a year.

Obesity now costs the NHS £16billion a year - which includes treating obesity-linked medical conditions like Type 2 diabetes.

Credits: Digital Vision © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Digital Vision

The study presented in Porto found that the swallowable gastric balloon “is a safe and effective way to induce substantial weight loss”.

The research examined the impact of the balloon on 50 obese patients who had failed to lose weight by diet alone and who had refused other gastric treatment, because of the need of an endoscopy or anaesthesia.

Each patient had the balloon in their stomach for 16 weeks after which it spontaneously opened, emptied, and was excreted.

They were checked every two weeks.

In the last four weeks of the treatment, a very low calorie diet of 700 kcal/day was introduced to enhance weight loss and maximise the results to increase patient satisfaction. Once the balloon was excreted, patients were transitioned to a Mediterranean diet for weight maintenance.

After 16 weeks, the average weight loss was 15.2kg. The average percentage weight loss was a drastic 31%.

There were no serious adverse events recorded. All other adverse events including nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain were either self-limiting or resolved with medication.Dr Ienca concluded: “The Elipse Balloon appears to be a safe and effective weight loss method. Furthermore, the absence of endoscopy and anaesthesia for placement and removal can lead to significant cost savings.”

Prof Jason Halford, treasurer of the European Association for the Study of Obesity, which is hosting the world’s biggest obesity conference, said:

“With bariatric surgery, there are potential complications, it’s a very permanent change in your life and it’s not easily reversible.

“People are looking for alternatives. “I think this is for people before they would get to the point where they need bariatric surgery. Potentially millions could benefit.

“I think if studies are there and it’s cost-effective... I think it should be considered on the NHS.”

Dr Simon Cork, Research Fellow at the Department of Investigative Medicine,

Imperial College London, added: “Currently, gastric balloons have to be inserted under general anaesthetic or sedation.

“This not only limits the number of patients who can have them implanted,

but also increases surgery time and has significant costs associated with it.”

He added: “The introduction of a device which doesn’t require surgery to implant is a positive step forward.”


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