If you’re trying to lose weight, the word “balloon” is probably one of the last things to come to mind. After all, it seem to imply weight gain if nothing else.
But as it turns out, a balloon might be the secret to melting away unwanted pounds.
The new pill, created by the California company Obalon, is a capsule with a deflated balloon stuffed inside. A thin catheter is attached to the pill. When the pill is swallowed, the catheter sticks out. The balloon is released once it hits the stomach, and a doctor pumps gas in the tube to inflate the balloon. Though the tube is removed afterward, the balloon remains inside the stomach.
The way it works is that the balloon takes up room in the stomach and curbs appetite. Multiple balloons can sit in the stomach at one time. When the person is done using it, the balloons are removed by being punctured with an injector needle. In a new study, people who swallowed the balloons lost 6.8 percent of their total body weight over the course of six months.
“The balloons work by taking up space in your stomach and making you feel full earlier in the meal,” said Dr. Shelby Sullivan, assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Patients definitely feel more full and eat less with it.”
Though Obalon has been approved in Europe, it hasn’t been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just yet. However, a new trial was just designed to seek that approval. If it does get approved, the company has not yet decided on a price, and it’s not specified that it would be covered by insurance.
That said, the research sounds promising. Stay tuned!