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What It's Like To Have This Gastric Balloon Inserted Into Your Stomach For Weight Loss
After her overweight mother was diagnosed with diabetes, Rachelle Bourg, 48, knew she needed to make changes to preserve her own health. Having tried and failed at losing weight several times, Bourg, a small business owner and mother of two, opted for an Orbera gastric balloon, a non-surgical weight loss device approved by the FDA in August 2015. The balloon is placed into the stomach using an endoscope, then inflated with sterile saline to the size of a grapefruit, explains Rachel L. Moore, MD, Bourg's doctor and an obesity medicine specialist.
Once inflated, the balloon takes up space in the stomach to limit how much a person can eat. Patients are coached through beneficial behavior changes, and after 6 months, the balloon is deflated and removed, again via endoscopy. In a clinical study, patients who used the balloon lost an average of 21.8 pounds after those 6 months and had maintained an average of 19.4 pounds lost 3 months after the balloon was removed. "This device is an essential aid to learning healthy diet and exercise habits that patients will hopefully continue for the rest of their lives," Moore says. Here's how Bourg is faring so far.
My mother was diagnosed with diabetes in the summer of 2015. She's very overweight. I had just put on an extra 15 pounds myself, and I was getting worried about possible health problems. I've been trying to lose weight for years by dieting, following meal programs, and even taking diet pills. I would lose 15 or 20 pounds, but then I would gain back 25. I was constantly yo-yoing.
MORE:6 Ways To Get Started When You Have 50+ Pounds To Lose
I knew had to lose weight and keep it off or I could develop health issues. But I didn't want something permanent like weight loss surgery. I was searching online for options and found Dr. Moore. I was 195.5 pounds at the time, and I'm 5'2", so my body mass index was 35.8, which meant I qualified for the procedure. [Candidates must have a BMI between 30 and 40.]
The implantation procedure itself was fine, there was no pain or anything, but for the first 3 days I did experience a lot of nausea. On the fourth and fifth days, I was able to go back to work part-time, and by the sixth day I felt normal. The first thing I noticed was how quickly I would fill up when eating. I've had the balloon for 4 months now, and I still find that if I eat too fast, I get nauseous. I can't eat large portions, so I do between three and four small meals a day. I have one bite and I put my fork down, because I really have to chew my food well. If you keep on eating, that nausea tells you to stop. I can't see the balloon or feel it, but there is an odd sense like you have a ball in your stomach. It's a feeling of being full.
I like that even though the balloon comes out in a couple of months, I still get a full year of monthly support from the doctor and a nutritionist. They're giving me the information I needed to change the way I eat. The nutritionist is teaching me about portion control. And because the balloon has curbed my appetite, it has helped me discover better food choices. I've eliminated fried foods and soft drinks and reduced my carbohydrates a good bit. (Find out what happens when you finally stop drinking diet soda.) I get a lot of protein—chicken breast, turkey breast, fish, egg whites—and plenty of vegetables, raw and cooked. I'm walking at least 10,000 to 13,000 steps a day now, which I was not doing before. I just started doing strengthening exercises. (Want to work out more but don't have the time? Then try , the new workout program that only takes 10 minutes a day.)
I've already lost 35 pounds, and my goal is to lose 60. I think I'll continue to have success after the balloon is removed because of what I've learned and the 6 additional months with the nutritionist and the doctor. I keep a food diary, so if I start to slip I'll know where. I would highly recommend this procedure, especially if you've battled yo-yo dieting. I think it's fabulous.
Interview has been edited and condensed.
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