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Intragastric balloon procedure offers a non-surgical alternative for weight loss

University of Minnesota Health care providers offer the inflatable intragastric balloon—a non-surgical option to help patients lose weight.
University of Minnesota Health Bariatric Surgeon Daniel Leslie, MD, and his team offer an inflatable intragastric balloon system as a non-surgical alternative to weight loss.
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For years, several surgical options have been available for people seeking to lose a significant amount of weight.

The University of Minnesota Health bariatric surgery team is offering an innovative non-surgical option. Known as an inflatable intragastric balloon, the FDA-approved device is inserted into the patient’s stomach using endoscopic techniques. The balloon is inflated and occupies space in the stomach, reducing hunger and helping a patient eat smaller portions.

“It is safe, completely reversible and performed endoscopically with no surgical incisions,” said University of Minnesota Health Bariatric Surgeon Daniel Leslie, MD, who is the director of bariatric surgery. “Unlike other procedures, it doesn’t alter stomach or intestinal anatomy.”

While the inflated balloon system is in the stomach, hunger signals are not sent to the brain because the space is already occupied. The balloon system is removed after six months. Eligibility for the procedure includes patients with a Body Mass Index higher than 30 (25 pounds or more overweight).

The same-day procedure doesn’t come with any lifting restrictions, Leslie said, and most patients return to work and regular activities within one week.

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Patients who used one of the new intragastric balloon systems lost more than twice their excess weight compared to patients who worked with a doctor on a supervised diet and exercise program alone, according to research from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, which was authorized by the FDA. Patients who had a body mass index (BMI) of about 35 lost about 25.1 percent of their excess weight compared to 11.3 percent for those who only used a diet and exercise program, according to the 326-patient study.

Leslie said the procedure is not designed for permanent weight loss, but is meant to kick-start a new approach to life.

“The ultimate goal of our program in bariatric surgery is for patients to adjust to a healthier lifestyle prior to and after any procedure,” he said.

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University of Minnesota Health care providers also use other strategies and regimens to help with excess weight loss. Patients who opt for the intragastric balloon also have access to those services.

“We offer medical and surgical weight management, including a pediatric clinic,” Leslie said. “Eating behavior, activity levels, medications and potentially surgical or endoscopic interventions are also offered.”

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