10 June 2019

The Possible Dangers of Gastric Balloons for Weight Loss

Bariatric surgeon expert Dr. Mona Misra joins The Doctors to discuss the risks of liquid-filled gastric balloon devices which are used for weight loss. Subscribe to ...

One out of three Americans are obese.

The epidemic we know is growing. In addressing this issue a lot of people have turned to medical interventions. But the question is could a new, popular surgical weight loss device have potentially fatal consequences? Let's take a look. Need more than diet and exercise? Wanna lose 20 to 50 pounds in six months? That's what gastric balloons systems promise. Sounds enticing but could these balloons be deadly? The FDA reported five new patient deaths related to liquid filled gastric balloon devices used to treat obesity. That brings the total number of deaths worldwide from the balloons to 12 since 2016. But hundreds of thousands of people have successfully undergone the procedure. And it sounds simple enough. A scope is passed through the mouth and into the stomach. Then the deflated balloon is passed into your stomach where it's inflated with saline. It can remain in the body for up to six months. So should we sound the alarm on these gastric balloons? Or are they still a viable option for weight loss? Bariatric surgeon Dr. Mona Misra joins us now via Skype and doc thanks so much for being here with us. We wanted to Thank you for having me.

obviously have an expert on who deals with this in their daily practice. Can we talk a little bit about what you perceive to be the real risks with this? So there was seven deaths that were in the United States since 2015. But we're looking at nearly 300,000 procedures that have been placed. And so this is really important to kind of have an idea of just how safe these procedures are. If you're looking at the actual deaths. Most of those are from medical problems, like a heart attack and pancreatitis so it's really important to put into perspective. Well, Dr. Mona, that's the point these people are obese, many cases severely obese. And what do we see in obese patients? These concomitant medical problems. Whether it be their heart, their lungs, diabetes. These patients are at high risk. These are high risk patients. They're more likely to have complications. What are the specific risks of this procedure? Of the balloon in the stomach. What has your experience been with it? So they're actually really safe. It's really common to have side effects like nausea or vomiting or heartburn and so it's actually really rare to have a serious complication and so if you do have something like

significant vomiting, where you're not able to keep anything down, you can get dehydrated and you need to call your doctor. And then they're able to determine if there's something more that needs to be done. The other risk that we worry about is actually that balloon deflating. And it can actually push down into your bowels, get stuck, causing a bowel obstruction and so those kind of things matter. What are safe guards that you as a surgeon can use to try to minimize these types of complications? I actually tinge that saline water with methylene blue dye so even if you got the tiniest little leak you would start peeing green. Nothing else makes you pee green. You can eat green food all day long and you're not gonna pee green. So if you start peeing green, you need to call your doctor. Can I ask you before we let you go the ideal candidate for this type of procedure versus maybe a more formal surgery because obviously this is removable, temporary. Who do you recommend this to in your patient population? So this is not for severely overweight people. This is for people who have like 20 to 40 pounds to lose. It's FDA approved for a BMI between 30 and 40. Okay.

And so this actually does make people lose weight, people have diabetes in remission, high blood pressure in remission. We're actually able to make them live longer, healthier lives. If I may just add this. The concept of so many of these procedures and certainly in the case of a balloon is it's still up to the individual patient to modify lifestyle, to modify food intake and I think that as long as everyone is aware of that, aware of the risks, has the individual conversation with their Bariatric surgeon that's the best you can do.