New weight loss procedure places balloon in your stomach

A new weight loss procedure is promising a new way to losing the weight but not losing flavor.

Think about a balloon - a little larger than an orange - floating around in your stomach for months. It's called Orbera and, for Jill Patterson, it means she's already shrinking - just two weeks into the plan.

"I was able to fit into different clothes," Jill said. "I eat a lot less. I can't finish a yogurt cup."

Her life started to change on February 4. That's when Jill Patterson left the St. John Providence Weight Loss Center in Warren but her stomach wasn't empty: she had a balloon floating inside of it. The 36-year-old wife, mom, and nurse wants to lose weight for her health but she has the usual struggles.

"I'm a typical woman, yo yo diet, eat with stress," Jill said.

The Orbera balloon is placed inside the stomach endoscopically - through the mouth. Then doctors inflate it.

"Once it's in the stomach we inflate it with saline until the appropriate amount at which time we will detach the tubing and it will sit free floating in the stomach and it will stay there," Dr. Gary Katz said.

The outpatient procedure doesn't take long. In 6 months, the balloon will be deflated and removed. During that time, Jill follows a simple theory: you feel full and eat less.

"It works by creating a sense of fullness and also decreases emptying from the stomach which will help promote weight loss," Dr. Katz said.

So how does the balloon feel? After two weeks, we stopped in to Jill's home in Novi and she said it took some getting used to.

"At first it was a little strange: I felt very full, it made me nauseous, I could feel food passing by it but my body has gotten used to it now so I really dont feel it at all unless I eat too much and then I'll feel overly full," she said.

Her first week, the diet was limited to liquids. Now, she's on pureed food but has come to a realization: she no longer wants to eat big meals. Plus, she's noticed she's eating less.

The risk with Orbera is nasua or vomiting and the balloon can possibly pop and need to be removed. However, a clinical trial shows about a 20 pound weight loss with the balloon and Jill is feeling optomistic: she hopes to lose 35 to 50 pounds, if possible.

Orbera isn't covered by insurance and it costs about $7,000. CLICK HERE for more details from St. John Providence Weight Loss Center in Warren.

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