If you’re someone who is considering treatment with the Obalon Balloon system, you likely have some questions about how long the therapy will last. After all, it is fairly often that we hear about regaining weight after bariatric surgery, and you likely don’t want to invest time and money in the Obalon treatment to then see the weight come back once the balloons are removed. Here, we’ll look into what studies and clinical trials have found regarding the longevity of weight loss on Obalon.
89.5% of the total weight lost was maintained 6 months after balloon removal –according to a study following 387 patients as they went through the Obalon Balloon System treatment.
What Do the Studies Say?
A large study following 387 subjects followed patients as they went through the Obalon Balloon System treatment, and then followed them for six additional months. The study, which was led by Dr. Aurora D. Pryor of Stony Brook University, found that patients’ weight loss after six months of treatment was maintained for an additional six months after the balloons were removed. This study, which was double-blind and sham-controlled (one group of patients received artificial capsules that were not actual balloons), is one of the most thorough to date. In total, 89.5% of the average total weight lost was maintained six months after balloon removal.
While this study demonstrates the long-term efficacy of the Obalon system, a common concern surrounding the Obalon Balloon system is the belief that the balloons simply force the patients to eat less. Then, when the balloons are removed, critics of the system question whether these patients will then go back to overeating, which would cause them to regain the weight. While this concern is sometimes expressed by those looking into the Obalon system, even some bariatric physicians have expressed doubts about the system’s long-term efficacy.
For instance, Dr. David Katz of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Connecticut, asks if the balloon has similar results to weight-loss surgery. He notes that weight loss surgery often has permanent hormonal effects that regulate appetite and questions whether a person using the Obalon system will become dependent on the balloons in order to maintain their weight loss.
While the above study illustrates that patients do, in fact, maintain weight loss after the balloons are removed, Dr. Pryor offers a possible explanation of why. She believes that patients maintain weight loss after balloon removal because they learn healthier habits through the Obalon Balloon diet and exercise support. While it is ultimately up to the patient whether they continue with newer habits or revert to old ones, the fact that most patients keep the weight off even six months after balloon removal suggests that, for many, these habits eventually become integrated into their lives to the point that they continue them even without physician oversight.
Why is Obalon More Effective Than Diet and Exercise Alone?
Since patients’ continued adherence to healthier lifestyle choices is likely part of why they maintain weight loss, critics might argue that patients should just save money and pursue diet and exercise only, as opposed to undergoing the balloon treatment.
Research evaluating the Obalon system has found that patients using this system lose nearly twice the weight compared to those who only used diet and exercise for weight loss.
There are several reasons why this could be. This system is often described as a “jump start” to weight loss, and it works this way both physically and psychologically. For many patients who use the Obalon treatment, weight loss is an area in which they have struggled for years. The balloon system, by virtue of making it impossible for the patient to eat too much, will usually cause the patient to lose a moderate amount of weight relatively quickly.
For a patient, seeing this success can be motivating – it proves to them that weight loss is possible, and it motivates them to work to lose more weight. When this increased motivation meets a physician-guided exercise and diet program, the patient becomes much more likely to stick with this program. And because they have the support of a physician, the patient will likely find it easier to integrate these lifestyle changes.
Over the six-month course of treatment, these changes become habit, and when the patient’s balloons are finally removed, the patient is more than likely feeling mentally and physically better as a result of having lost a substantial amount of weight. This creates positive motivation to continue eating healthily and exercising.
What Does This Mean for Future Patients?
In short, while the Obalon therapy also includes making improvements to a patient’s diet and exercise, the Obalon Balloon system is still almost twice as effective as diet and exercise alone, and patients keep the weight off after treatment. While some concern over a new therapy is natural, potential patients looking into Obalon should understand that this therapy is not a quick fix – it’s a jump start into sustainable weight loss and a healthier way of life.