Health Update: A New Option To Fight Obesity

As a young person I was always interested in health. At the age of 16, I was a vitamin enthusiast and thought taking them was the right thing to do for my health. My interest then grew into healthy eating with continued study of nutrients. Even though surgery was my love and chosen field, I always remained interested in preventative medicine.

A couple of years ago I got my board certification in anti aging and metabolic medicine and learned how to put diet, nutrition and targeted supplements together which can impact health. Certainly as we age, it is all about feeling good and maintaining good health through the golden years. I advocate healthy lifestyle choices when educating my patients.

Treating obesity is one of those areas where education, self-awareness, and a support system can make a huge difference in the success of the patient. Whether this is accomplished by non-surgical or through surgical weight loss, to me it’s more than just loosing pounds; it is achieving the best quality of life possible for each patient.

Have you ever lost a quick five or ten pounds before a summer vacation or major life event? Although fad diets help you lose weight, few people manage to keep off the lost pounds. Helping individuals maintain a healthy weight throughout their life is one of the many reasons I love my job. And that’s why I’m excited to help launch a new product that will continue to do just that.

On September 10, I was proud to be the first surgeon in Arkansas to perform the latest in weight loss procedures at Saline Memorial Hospital. The device used for this new procedure is called the ORBERA™ balloon.

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just last month, ORBERA™ is a soft balloon that occupies space in the stomach. In a non-surgical (endoscopic) procedure done under a mild sedative, the deflated ORBERA™ balloon is placed into the stomach (only taking 15 minutes to implant), and then filled with saline until reaching approximately the size of a grapefruit. The balloon remains in place for a period of six months, aiding in portion control and ultimately assisting in sustainable weight loss at a rate of 3.1 times those who engaged in diet and exercise alone. There’s no cutting, no Incisions and no blood loss.

Although this device is new to the United States, ORBERA™ has been around for more than 20 years. More than 220,000 ORBERATM balloons have been distributed worldwide in over 80 countries. ORBERA™ is a proven, innovative, and non-surgical solution to help fight the obesity epidemic. Over 200 studies have been done worldwide on the balloon’s effectiveness.

For many, the weight loss journey leaves patients with little support or options other than diet and exercise and traditional surgery. ORBERA™ fills the treatment gap that exists for patients who are not appropriate for or not considering invasive surgery, but for whom diet and exercise, or pharmaceutical interventions, have not worked. It provides a non-surgical option for moderate obesity (those with a body mass index between 30 and 40). The ORBERA™ is ideal for patients who have 20-50 pounds to lose.

Once the balloon is in place, the patient receives an individually tailored support program to help keep them motivated, coordinate their care and help them work through weight loss barriers to meet their long-term weight loss goals. This is designed to be a 12 month program to help change behavior. The balloon is FDA approved for 6 months which then requires removal. But the additional 6 months of diet supervised weight loss should give the patient the knowledge and confidence to enjoy that healthy and thinner life we are all looking for.

Obesity affects more than 78.6 million U.S. adults and is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States. In 2008, it was estimated that more than $147 billion is spent annually in medical costs related to obesity, and this figure is expected to grow by $43 to $66 billion each year in the U.S. by 2030. Arkansas now has the third highest adult obesity rate in the nation, according to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America. Arkansas’s adult obesity rate is 34.6 percent, up from 25.0 percent in 2004 and from 17.0 percent in 1995.

Obesity is a chronic disease and the development of new, minimally invasive solutions, like ORBERA™, will help transform this epidemic and treat patients with lower BMI before their disease progresses and presents the need for more invasive treatment.

Being a new procedure, ORBERA is not covered by insurance however the cost includes initial placement, subsequent removal and 12 months of diet and behavioral education. For more information about the ORBERA™ Intragastric Balloon and other weight loss procedures offered at SMH, call (501) 574-7171.