For many dieters, the idea of surgical intervention to help lose weight is something that is unpleasant and largely off putting.
However, an entirely new range of techniques is becoming available or is under test, involving procedures that are perhaps technically surgery but which involve little if any real surgical intervention.
These are sometimes generically called the ‘Balloon’ treatments.
The basic concepts
Many surgical and more modern balloon treatments share an idea in common. That is to fill the stomach so that it doesn’t feel hungry and demand feeding or in other cases to physically prevent the intake and absorption of foodstuffs.
In that sense, conceptually they are not a million miles away from well-established procedures such as gastric band surgery. Yet in practice, there is much less surgical intervention involved and that must be far less traumatic for the patient.
Many of them involve the insertion of a balloon or balloon-like structure into the stomach in order to achieve the above objectives. Here are just a few examples of some of those which are gaining a lot of attention.
This is a double balloon, which is filled with saline then inserted into the patient’s stomach for half a year.
It does involve a degree of intervention but the results have been promising – though many patients suffered initial unpleasant side-effects, such as nausea, in the initial few days after insertion.
This is a capsule filled with tiny particles which are coated or built with the same type of ingredients used in food products.
As the particles absorb water in the stomach, they expand and help that ‘full’ feeling to develop.
They also mix with food being digested and reduce the rate of its passage out of the stomach.
This is another device that has been tweaked quite a few times already.
The researchers have tried to produce a balloon that could be lodged in the stomach and later removed but without endoscopy, which is one of those procedures patients don’t like much.
The current experiment involves a long thin and flexible tube being attached to a tiny balloon that’s swallowed. The tube is then used to inflate the balloon with water and the tube is then extracted. Early trial results look promising.
The first step with this device is to swallow a capsule containing a balloon.
Once that’s dissolved, the balloon’s released and then inflated by a minuscule tube attached to the capsule.
A doctor then removes the tube and that process can be repeated to place several balloons in your stomach.
Yet again, initial test results look encouraging.
Many of the above products should still be regarded as being essentially in the scientific study phase and although the results look very encouraging, it may be some time before they become available to the mass market.
It’s also true to say that they are typically aimed at people with severe weight problems and they are not likely to entirely replace the use of a professional weight loss program in the case of most dieters.
Ongoing dieting regimes and weight loss recipes will continue to be extremely important for the foreseeable future, irrespective of how successful or otherwise some of the above product evaluations prove to be in the medium to longer term.