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These balloons don't come with birthday cake, but they might help you lose weight

As with any diet or exercise plan, consult a doctor before making any moves.
weight loss
Swallowing helped you gain weight. Could it now help you lose it? Photo: Obalon

Ah, the “dad bod.” Yet another excuse for men to evade being held to the same body “ideal” women struggling with weight loss are held to. (Have you heard anyone lovingly refer to “mom bod?” Nope.)

While we give a nod to the “dad bod,” many recognize it can be more harmful than charming —like the people behind the Obalon Balloon System, the first swallowable intragastric balloon system indicated for temporary use to facilitate weight loss in adults with obesity.

While these balloons don’t come with birthday cake, the Obalon three-balloon system is a nonsurgical, FDA-approved reversible way to lose weight. And since swallowing (too much food) is what gets most of us into the upper BMI bracket, it's almost poetic that swallowing could be the weight loss kick-in-the-pants some of us need.

weight loss

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For weight loss, open up and say "ahhhh."

According to the company, obese adults swallow a capsule which is then remotely filled with gas via a micro-catheter. No sedation is required and each treatment takes about 10 minutes. A fully inflated balloon is about the size of an orange and weighs approximately the same as a penny.

Over the course of three months, a total of three balloons is placed in the patient’s stomach. After a weight loss period of six months, all three balloons are removed via an outpatient endoscopy under light conscious sedation.

Does it work?

As with many weight gain interventions, a potential candidate for the balloon system has to give good old fashioned diet and exercise a try. Adults who are 30 to 100 pounds overweight are eligible, but must also be ready for a lifestyle change.

“The degree of long-term weight loss will depend on their ability to modify their lifestyle and maintain this behavior after the balloons are removed,” according to the company. “It is important that they discuss their willingness to accept this commitment with their physician before undergoing the Obalon Balloon System.”

In clinical trials, patients lost twice as much weight as diet and exercise alone. Six months after the balloons were removed, 89 percent of the weight lost was kept off, when combined with diet and exercise.

In the clinical trial, the majority of adverse effects were reported as mild and consisted of abdominal pain and nausea which typically resolve within two weeks (serious side effects were less than 0.3 percent).

A similar product, the Ellipse Balloon, uses the same idea, but the balloons are filled with water, which eventually leaks out. The balloons are then expelled as waste.