Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center is the exclusive site in South Dakota to offer a revolutionary weight-loss procedure that’s non-surgical and incision-free.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the ORBERA™ Intragastric Balloon by Apollo Endoscopy, Inc. This new minimally-invasive weight-loss procedure will be performed by board-certified surgeons, Brad Thaemert, MD, and David Strand, MD.
“This is a very exciting offering for patients who have struggled with weight loss,” Thaemert said. “It provides opportunity to lose more weight than with dieting and exercise alone, yet it’s not as extensive as weight-loss surgical techniques, such as sleeve gastrectomy, lap band or roux-en-Y.”
The Balloon Procedure
The balloon, inserted into the stomach via endoscope, occupies space to help patients feel satisfied, eat less – and lose weight. Coaching helps patients change their lifestyle habits in order to keep the weight off.
“Unlike some bariatric procedures, we are not permanently changing the patient’s anatomy. It does not produce the side effects that bariatric procedures can result in, for example, vitamin deficiency,” Strand said.
ORBERA is recommended for patients who need to lose 30-50 pounds, with a body-mass index of 30 to 40. Studies show that it helps patients lose 3.1 times more weight than diet and exercise alone. Weight loss is rapid; occurring mostly in the first three months. “For some patients, this can be a tool to lose weight for a special event, like a wedding or reunion, but then also make the lifestyle changes needed to keep from regaining the weight in the long term,” Thaemert said.
The balloon is placed into the stomach through the mouth using an endoscope while the patient is under mild sedation. Once in the stomach, the balloon is filled with saline through a self-sealing valve to be about the size of a grapefruit. There are no incisions and no general anesthesia. The procedure typically takes about 20 to 30 minutes and the patient can generally go home the same day.
A Plan for Success
Once the balloon is in place, the patient receives an individually tailored support program to help them stay motivated and overcome barriers in reaching long-term weight loss goals. Coaching takes place over 12 months, even though the balloon is removed after six months. The program is designed to help the patient develop sustainable, healthy habits that will help keep weight off over time.
Because the procedure is newly approved by the FDA, it is an out-of-pocket expense that is not covered by most insurance carriers.
Out-of-pocket cost is approximately $7,000 for the balloon procedure and after care. Avera patients can take advantage of financing for this and other bariatric procedures through Union Bank and Trust. This financing involves no collateral or appraisals, and features a streamlined application. To learn more, patients can contact Kim McCoy, Bariatrics Coordinator at Avera McKennan, at 605-322-1320.
While new to the United States, more than 220,000 balloons have been distributed in over 80 countries, with approximately 230 published papers documenting its clinical results. “ORBERA is a proven, innovative and non-surgical solution to help fight the obesity epidemic and treat patients before their disease progresses and requires more invasive treatments,” said Todd Newton, Chief Executive Officer of Apollo Endosurgery.