For people who struggle with obesity and weight issues, maintaining wellness can be a challenge for both body and spirit. It is now possible to achieve long-term weight loss through non-surgical means thanks to an advanced treatment called Orbera. Batash Medical in Rego Park, NY offers expert services with this powerful, long-lasting weight loss solution.
What Is Orbera?
The Orbera gastric balloon is a non-surgical weight loss technique designed to be temporary in use but lasting in effect. The treatment involves the insertion of a soft balloon in the stomach, which is then filled with saline solution. When the balloon is inflated, it takes up physical space in the stomach and changes the patient’s approach to eating and diet control.
Over the course of the treatment, the patient’s weight is reduced through a dual-track process. Because the balloon assumes stomach space that the patient would ordinarily fill with more food, the patient eats less to feel full. This aspect of the treatment achieves a level of immediate, direct weight loss that produces patient encouragement.
Just as importantly, the treatment trains the patient to adapt to a different level of portion control and dietary maintenance over time. The patient needs less food to feel satisfied. This becomes a daily experience that’s soon regarded as normal and expected by the body and mind. The behavior modification continues even after the balloon is removed from the stomach. Along with newly-taught habits for diet and exercise, this maintains ongoing weight reduction.
Why We Often Can’t Lose Weight Without Help
Many of us wish we had better control over our weight. In simpler cases, we try to lose unwanted pounds for aesthetic reasons, using new diets or exercise routines. While both of these strategies can be effective, neither typically has a lasting effect. In more advanced situations, where a person’s excessive weight poses potential health problems, diet and exercise are of course helpful, but may not be enough.
People gain too much weight for a variety of internal and external reasons. The amount we eat, of course, is a big contributor. Taking in more calories each day than will eventually be burned as energy puts pounds on anyone. But even individuals that are thoughtful about diet and exercise can experience weight issues that negatively impact their physical and mental well-being. A few reasons for stubborn weight issues include:
Highly processed foods, such as those found in packaged meals and snacks, fast-food dining and many cook-and-eat options have been identified as major contributors to overweight conditions and obesity. For some people, the convenience of these foods makes them a necessary evil in our daily lives. Many of us don’t have the luxury of time to plan and prepare healthy eating on a regular basis.
Lack of Exercise
Many daily routines at work or home are sedentary activities. This has been particularly true since the arrival of the internet. Today, many people spend much of their workday at a desk, sitting in front of a computer monitor, getting little exercise or standing relief. Later, after work, a night in front of the TV may be restful and relaxing but does nothing to burn calories. TV time also often leads to snacks – and more calories.
Advances in technology are helping us to better understand sleep and its effects on the body. However, the connection between insufficient sleep and weight gain has been long documented. The reasons may not be entirely physiological. Poor sleep has a direct effect on stress, and stress is a major contributor to overeating.
People who suffer from excessive weight problems and obesity often live with an underlying health issue that is not being managed. Diseases of the thyroid, hypertension and hormone imbalances that occur with age, menopause or childbearing can all wreak havoc on the body’s healthy chemistry. Psychological diseases can also play a part, and depression has long been associated with weight gain.
Clinical studies show that our basic genetic makeup can contribute from 40-70% of the reason for obesity. The genes we carry with us from our family physiology often simply predispose us to gain excess weight. There are over 50 genes that have been identified as meaningful to obesity conditions. One such gene is the fat mass and obesity-associated gene (FTO), which is found in up to 43% of the population.
Why Behavior Modification Alone Doesn’t Do It
Everyone thinks that eating a considered diet and getting enough exercise every day will result in better-managed weight. Yet despite all the diets and activity resolutions people undertake each ear, the lasting results from these changes are usually poor. Even after some weight is lost, it’s quickly gained back. This sets off a spiral of disappointment that makes further attempts along these lines less likely to work.
The Brain Is the Key
Psychologists understand the cognitive reasons why diet resolutions rarely stick. Knowing the right steps to take and being able to stay with them consistently are two different mental skills. For example, a diet plan that advises specific foods or portions may be completely sound in theory, but often falls apart because the deviation from “normal” is too severe. Long-established patterns of eating override the diet’s chances for lasting success.
Sooner or later, after a new diet, people generally return to their established patterns. This is particularly true if the diet and exercise doesn’t clearly exhibit some kind of visible near-term success to keep the person motivated. Many who have tried to lose serious weight through simple lifestyle changes find that the progress they achieve feels minimal next to the effort expended. The motivation to maintain the new pattern drops away, and the weight soon returns.
A Different Sort of Modification
The Orbera system uses behavior modification in a completely different manner than plain willpower or the advice from a diet app. Rather than the brain directing the body on how much food is good to eat, the treatment re-educates the brain to understand when it’s full. You don’t tell yourself you’re not hungry; you’re simply no longer hungry.
By altering the stomach’s capacity, the gastric balloon changes the physical boundaries that mark the point of feeling full and satisfied. When that boundary has been met during a meal, the gastric system sends biological signals to the brain signaling that enough food has been eaten and there’s no room (or need) for more. The brain listens to these cues and signals satiety – the sense of having eaten enough.
How Long Does It Take to Work?
While the patient usually loses dramatic weight in the first 3 months, it takes about 6 months to train the brain to eat less and feel full more quickly. Because of the presence of the balloon, the patient finds that there’s less room for second helpings or that extra slice of cake. During this training period, the brain begins to comprehend that smaller portions and less food are the new normal.
The program is designed to last 12 months. The gastric balloon is removed after 6 months, by which time the brain and stomach are in agreement on this new eating pattern. Because the balloon has been preventing overeating during the time that it’s been in the body, the patient has usually lost significant weight by the time the balloon is removed by the doctor. The second 6 months after balloon removal reinforce the new behavior modification with support and coaching.
Is This Therapy FDA Approved?
The technology and treatment are FDA approved. With a success record that now spans more than two decades, this is is the leading weight loss balloon used worldwide for weight reduction. It is also the only gastric balloon therapy recognized by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) for clinical effectiveness and patient safety.
Since the therapy’s introduction, there have been over 200 peer-reviewed clinical publications worldwide, encompassing more than 8,000 patients. Follow-up studies have consistently shown that the therapy is safe, and more importantly, effective in weight reduction that sticks after the therapy is completed.
What Does Success Look Like?
During the FDA trials for the treatment, patients averaged about 10% weight loss from their starting weight. Once in the field, however, with larger patient samples acquired through some 277,000 treatments in 80 countries, doctors worldwide have reported patients averaging 15-20% of their body weight in total weight loss. For many patients, this is an extremely effective reduction in dangerous obesity.
Typically, much of the patient’s weight loss occurs in the first 3 months of the treatment. The second 3 months, with the balloon still in the stomach, is considered the prime training period for the brain and digestive system to acclimate to their new patterns. The combination of visible weight loss and new eating habits provides the foundation for continuing weight management.
The 6 months that follow the removal of the balloon are spent with coaching and clinical support to keep the new patterns intact and new eating habits maintained. In general, patients usually lose between 20 and 50 pounds from the treatment, from start to finish.
What Is the Procedure Like?
Orbera therapy is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure that takes about 30 minutes to perform. The patient is given a mild sedative for comfort. Going through the mouth, the doctor inserts a deflated balloon into the stomach. Using a syringe, the balloon is then filled with a saline solution until it expands to about the size of a grapefruit.
The patient’s diet, including solid foods and liquids, is modified by the doctor both before and after the procedure. A liquid diet is typical for up to a week after the balloon is inserted. Afterward, the patient moves back to soft foods and is able to resume eating normally in 2-3 weeks. By this time, the body already has a different sense of how much is enough when it comes to eating.
After 6 months, the doctor removes the balloon. A specialized instrument punctures the smooth silicon surface of the balloon, and the saline solution is drained with a suction tube. The balloon is then grasped with a long tool and withdrawn and removed from the body.
Process and Results
For the first week after the balloon insertion, most patients don’t experience much hunger. As a result, weight loss is usually significant almost immediately after the procedure. Many doctors have observed that men lose 8 to 15 pounds during their first week. Women often lose 4 to 8 pounds during this same acclimation period.
Normal appetite starts to return during the second week following the procedure. Patients notice that they feel full after a much smaller amount of food than they’re used to. This is not only a result of the balloon, but also the adaptation that the body is still undergoing.
As normal appetite returns, the patient is coached on how to track their eating habits: a process that’s overseen by the clinician and support services. A nutritionist is usually involved in this coaching process. New patterns are being taught to the brain by the stomach. They are reinforced by the introduction of diet and exercise guidelines that the patient will confidently be able to follow, throughout the treatment plan and beyond.
What Happens After Removal?
By the time the gastric balloon is removed, about 6 months after the insertion, the patient has typically lost a significant amount of weight. The next 6 months of the program are focused on maintenance of the new weight and eating habits. Diet and exercise are both key, leading to continued weight loss and ongoing weight management.
The patient works with a dietitian and support programs for up to a year after the balloon is placed. This serves to reinforce the work that has been done. While the balloon treatment initiated the weight loss, the new habits formed by the treatment are what allow the patient to keep the weight off.
Is This Better Than the Alternatives?
There are other surgical and pharmacological solutions that can help highly overweight people manage their size. None, however, combines the simplicity and safety of this solution with the long-term changes in eating habits needed for long-term success.
Medications taken for weight loss often come with unfortunate side effects. Appetite-suppressant drugs often induce insomnia, high blood pressure, accelerated pulse, and can break healthy sleep. Withdrawal symptoms are not uncommon and can cause even more physical and mental distress. The success rate for these drugs is not high, either: 3-9% weight loss is considered a win.
There are also gastric surgeries that can help people deal with excessive weight, but these carry greater risk to the patient. Some techniques work by literally shrinking the size of the stomach. Other surgeries bypass part of the digestive tract, which changes the way the body is able to absorb calories. There are even new implanted devices that alter the nerve signals between the stomach and the brain.
Invasive gastric surgery is a serious procedure. Operations can result in temporary or even permanent complications. Beyond the risks and stitches of even a smooth procedure, there’s a significant recovery period and the possibility of more surgeries ahead. By contrast, the Orbera system is temporary and avoids these complications.
How Can I Get Started?
This exciting weight loss therapy has shown remarkably positive results around the world and can work for any patient ready to return to a healthy, manageable size. Dr. Steven Batash brings 30 years of expert experience in the fields of gastroenterology and bariatric endoscopy to your treatment. Schedule a consultation at Batash Medical in Rego Park, NY today to see how you can literally re-shape yourself to a healthier, happier, lasting new you.