New weight-loss therapy offered in Colorado

AURORA, Colo. -- A new Food and Drug Administration-approved weight-loss procedure is now available in Colorado. It requires no surgery and no real downtime, but patients do have to swallow three balloons.

Dr. Shelby Sullivan at University of Colorado Hospital is offering the Obalon balloon system.

Kae Yoder was the first patient in the state to go through the process.

“They place three balloons in your stomach to help you feel full, and you just can’t eat as much,” she said.

Kae chose the Obalon system because there is no surgery. Instead, on three days, she swallowed a large capsule with a balloon inside and a tube attached.

Sullivan inflated the balloons, then pulled out the tubes. It was a quick and easy alternative to surgery.

“I work Monday through Friday,” Kae said. “I can’t take time off of work. I can come in in the morning, get it done in 15 minutes, and then go off to work.”

Plus, working with a dietician helped her make better food choices. She said she lost weight and gained more energy.

She had to have the balloons removed three months early when she decided to move back to Ohio to care for her father. But she said she’s happy. She lost 20 pounds in 12 weeks.

The Obalon system is available for patients who want to lose 30 to 100 pounds. Typically, the balloons are removed after six months, and Sullivan said the weight loss is generally maintained.

“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, I’m going to feel hungry when the balloons come out,’ that’s actually not true,” Sullivan said. “It does really help people make those behavior changes so that they can have long term weight loss success.”

Sullivan said this procedure is different from the liquid-filled balloons because there is no surgery or downtime required.

There are three small balloons placed instead of one big one, and there seem to be fewer side effects such as nausea or vomiting.