I shed 2 stone by swallowing the ‘double-bubble’ stomach balloon: First UK user hails revolutionary alternative to surgery for yo-yo dieters
- US trials of ReShape Duo balloon found people lost more weight with
- Greatly improved gastrointestinal tolerance compared with single balloon
- Procedure costs £5,500 and takes half an hour while patient is sedated
- Claire Cope, 40, from Aylesbury, became one of first UK people to have it
- She dropped from 13st 7lb to 11st 3lb and from size 18 to a 12
The procedure involves no incisions or stitches, leaves no scars and is completely reversible.
Gastric balloons, as they are known, have been used for more than a decade in Europe. But many more determined over-eaters say they still feel hunger pangs, despite undergoing the procedure, which costs upward of £3,000. There is also the concern that after the implant is removed, the modest weight loss is regained.
The latest device is said to fit the curved shape of the stomach and the manufacturers believe it has the potential for greater weight loss, as the double balloon occupies 60 per cent more space in the stomach than the traditional types.
By the time it is removed after six months – the period the manufacturer guarantees that the balloon, which is made of medical-grade silicon, will remain safely intact – the average user has lost two stone.
Studies have indicated that intra-gastric balloons can lead to clinically meaningful weight loss of up to 40 per cent of excess weight after six months.
A US trial on 30 patients using the new ReShape Duo balloon concluded that the weight loss in those who had the balloon was greater than those who had diet and exercise counselling alone. Another benefit was greatly improved gastrointestinal tolerance compared with those who used a single balloon device.
A fine flexible tube with an attached camera called an endoscope is inserted into the patient’s stomach via the mouth and is used to guide another tube called a catheter and the uninflated dual balloon into place.
The two parts are then each filled with 450ml of saline, using a separate tube. This is about 300ml more than is used to fill an old-style single gastric balloon. After six months the device is deflated and removed using a similar procedure.
Patients can go home the same day and the balloon doesn’t change the size or shape of the stomach – it simply ensures the patient feels full.
Costing £5,500, the the new ReShape Duo balloon procedure takes just half an hour.
‘This treatment is most suitable for those with a body mass index [BMI] of 27 to 35,’ explains Dr Theodore Ngatchu, who carries out the procedure at his clinic, 9 Harley Street in London.
‘It must never be used in people with a BMI of less than 27, but it can be useful in certain cases where a patient has a BMI of over 35 and needs a head start with weight loss for medical reasons.
‘For example, I’ve put a gastric balloon into people who have heart disease and are awaiting a bypass but need to lose weight in order to have major surgery.’
Side effects include nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps for a few days as the stomach reacts to having an alien object inside it.
While this would result in early removal of a standard singular balloon, the sympathetic shape of the new device helps reduce the risk as the two balloons sit more steadily in the stomach.
Dr Ngatchu warns that ReShape Duo is not suitable for everyone. ‘Those with a hiatus hernia cannot have the balloon inserted as it can cause them to have respiratory problems,’ he says. ‘Similarly, if you’ve previously had gastric – that’s stomach, not abdominal – surgery it’s not possible to have the balloon because there’s an increased risk of rupture due to weak scar tissue in the stomach and the combined pressure of the balloon and the stomach muscles.’
Claire Cope became one of the first people in the UK to undergo the procedure in June 2012. She has since lost more than two stone.
Back then, she was an overweight driving instructor with a BMI of 30 that rendered her clinically obese and left her with pain in her feet and ankles.
With the device in her stomach, she dropped from 13st 7lb to 11st 3lb and from a dress size 18 to a 12. ‘I’m 5ft 7in and until a decade ago I’d consistently been a size 10 and weighed 9st 7lb,’ says Claire, 40, who is now a retail manager and lives in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, with RAF husband Jeff, 55. They have two children Tom, 18, and Gemma, 20. ‘But then I turned 30, stopped smoking, swapped cigarettes for biscuits and hunks of bread spread with butter, and became a driving instructor. As my weight soared, I was in thrall to every faddy diet going. I tried everything but didn’t lose a stitch.’
Claire had the balloon inserted one morning and was home by late afternoon. Three days later she was back at work. Dieticians supervise the patient’s progress for 12 months, advising them on sensible eating and portion control.
Claire says: ‘I continued to eat the same foods I have for the past 30 years but my portion sizes were dramatically different and by the second week my hunger had waned.
‘I could no longer polish off a 12in pizza – two slices were plenty. One potato with my Sunday roast and veg was enough where once I’d eat a pile of them. The weight dropped off at a rate of about 2lb a week.’
Having lost 2st 4lb, Claire was understandably anxious that she might start over-eating again once the balloon was removed. Although she did gain 4lb, she has maintained her weight at 11st 7lb for the past 12 months.
Up to 80 per cent of people regain some weight within a year of having an intra-gastric balloon removed.
Claire admits: ‘I was relieved when the hunger pangs I expected to kick in didn’t. The eating habits I learned during those six months with the balloon remain intact. I still stop at a few squares of chocolate rather than demolishing a whole bar.’
Dr Ngatchu adds: ‘It’s important to continue with sensible eating and regular exercise once the balloon has been removed.’
More information at 9harleystreet.com and reshape.uk.com
Feature courtesy of www.dailymail.co.uk
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