UK launch for Obalon weight-loss balloon that you swallow like a pill


January 27, 2014

Obalon is a new gastric balloon for weight loss that has been launched in the UK

Obalon is a new gastric balloon for weight loss that has been launched in the UK

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A new weight-loss device that patients swallow and is then inflated inside the stomach to accelerate the sensation of fullness when eating has been launched in the UK. Obalon is a gastric balloon that benefits patients by being relatively noninvasive in comparison to others that require surgery.

The Obalon is swallowed in a capsule without the need for sedation. It is then inflated within the stomach via an inflation catheter that is attached to the balloon at one end and remains external at the other. Once the balloon is inflated, the catheter tube is removed. The procedure is said to take no longer than 15 minutes from start to finish.

The Obalon balloon is designed for patients with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 27 kg per square meter, and is recommended for use with accompanying changes to diet and lifestyle. Sitting at the top of the stomach, it remains in situ for 12 weeks. A further two balloons can be added during that period, depending on the individual patient's requirements. Following the treatment, the balloons are removed during an outpatient endoscopy.

Speaking to Gizmag, Obalon explained that its balloon is smaller and lighter than those currently offered on the UK's National Health Service (NHS) and is filled with nitrogen gas rather than saline, allowing it to sit at the top of the stomach.

Obalon claims that clinical trials have shown a potential 50.2 percent reduction in excess body weight, a potential reduction of 8.3 percent in total body weight and a 2.8 point reduction in BMI over the three month treatment period. However, although the Obalon has been approved for use in Europe, it is yet to be approved by the FDA for use in the US, where there is reportedly a question over the long-term effectiveness of gastric balloons.

"When they take the balloons out, what happens is the stomach hasn’t shrunk," Tim Bean, a UK-based fitness expert is reported to have told CBS. "So you’re left with the same size stomach, or possibly [one that is] even bigger than there was beforehand."

When Gizmag spoke to Obalon, however, the company was clear that its balloon was not intended to help a person lose weight on its own, and that it is for use as part of a long-term behavioral change program alongside lifestyle changes and support.

The company intends to seek FDA approval and is in the process of conducting a small pilot study as part of that process. According to Obalon, markets outside the US allowed for a more rapid review and approval process.

"There are many causes for global obesity and poor portion control is just one of them," explains Spire clinics consultant Sally Norton to Gizmag, "The Obalon balloon alone is not going to reverse the global epidemic, but has potential to help a large group of overweight and obese people who are worried about their health and have no other treatment available to them."

The video below shows how Obalon works.

Source: Obalon

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds. All articles by Stu Robarts

Has it seriously come to this? We're so lazy that we would eat balloons instead of diet and exercise?

Daniel Faulk

Health Care/Politics seems to be very profit-driven when comes to the "war on obesity". Weight loss is really simple process - I personally have done it. Just getting rid of sugars, vegetable oil for frying and some carbohydrates does wonders. In the mean time, marijuana is illegal while being less toxic and addictive than high fructose corn sugar, which we sell to the kids in schools...

Waldemar Stelmach

If you can take it like a pill, I have to wonder if you could pressurize it with a chemical reaction? And perhaps use another pill to break it down when the time is up. This might well be doable with no endoscopy what so ever....

Bob Ehresman

You would need very good monitoring to decide it was in exactly the right place. Very risky in my book.

The Skud

Drinking lots of water before and during eating does the same thing and it is a lot cheaper! The cheapest and best way is self control. If you WANT to loose weight - leave it on the plate.


It's still expensive.

Ritchard Mckie

Wonder if they have pizza flavored?

Jimbo Jones


Drinking excessive amounts of water can be dangerous in itself- so whilst you are not wrong, one needs to be a wee bit careful not to overdo it.


"Excessive amounts of" food "can be dangerous" as well. A sound mind with a balanced view of eating is needed for one to have self control.


It is true, drinking too much water can be dangerous, but it is very difficult to get to those levels, as your stomach will feel full.

Red Simpson

Besides, water leaves stomach faster than food, so it make you feel full for shorter time. That is why soups are effective at feeling full longer. At least according to BBC.

Piotr Radziwoński

In the 70's there was a cellulose tablet which, when swallowed, performed a similar function to this. It had an unfortunate brand name: AYDS which probably lead to it's demise in the market.

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