Dana Goossens, 29, lives in Illinois and participated in a recent clinical trial for a weight loss device called the Obalon Balloon System. Here's her story:
Like many Americans, I’ve tried all sorts of ways to lose weight. That’s been disheartening, especially since I’ve always been an active person. I tried everything from diet pills to eating only 500 calories a day and getting hormone injections to Weight Watchers—but I was never successful at keeping off the weight over the long term. I was tired of yo-yo diets and medications that made me feel bad.
My mother, who is a registered nurse, would remind me not to be vain, but she knew how much my weight was bringing me down. She forwarded me an article about a new device called the Obalon Balloon System, which consists of inflatable balloons that expand in your stomach to help you lose weight. It sounded strange, but I was curious.
I sent emails to the doctors involved in the clinical trial and I was able to secure one of the last spots. I was nervous about explaining my decision to my friends and family. My boyfriend told me if it would make me happy to give it a try, then I should do it.
The procedure was surprisingly simple. During the first session, I swallowed a small capsule that was tied to a tiny micro-catheter. The doctor then inflated the balloon once it was in my stomach—it gets to be about the size of an orange—and removed the catheter. The whole process took about 10 minutes. In the beginning, I could tell there was an object inside of me. At night it was a bit more uncomfortable as I could feel the balloon move a bit and squeak, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Eventually, my body got used to the feeling and I didn’t think about it during the day.
After one month, I went back to the doctor and swallowed the second balloon capsule, and two months after that, I swallowed the third and final balloon. Pretty soon after swallowing the second balloon, I started noticing the real weight loss. I was also seeing a nutritionist regularly, and I started doing cardio fitness about four times a week for 45 minutes. I learned how to listen to my body and understand when I'm hungry or full.
By the end of the six months, I lost close to 40 pounds and weighed 138 pounds. My friends and family were really impressed. What I liked about the balloon procedure was that I didn’t have to undergo surgery, and I could keep the procedure discreet.
I also developed lifestyle changes that helped me lose the weight at a steady pace, and I am hopeful this weight loss is more sustainable. By the time the trial ended, I felt confident I could maintain my healthy lifestyle even after getting the balloons removed. And I've even lost more weight since then.
The balloons have now been approved by the FDA, costs $6,000 to $9,000, and isn't covered by insurance.