Obesity is a growing problem. According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third, or 78.6 million, adults are overweight. Obese patients are at a higher risk for developing obesity-related gastrointestinal problems, including cancer, gallstones, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and liver problems, with increased morbidity and mortality.

Modern remedies

Current weight loss treatment options for obese patients include bariatric surgery, lifestyle interventions and pharmacotherapy. However, lifestyle interventions and pharmacotherapy are only modestly effective as stand-alone therapies. Bariatric surgery has many potential benefits for patients who need to lose weight.  However, only about 1 percent of qualified candidates undergo these procedures.

According to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), the new bariatric endoscopy technological developments offer an effective approach that fills a gap in current obesity treatment options.

"Studies show there is a positive correlation between weight loss and an improvement in obesity-related gastrointestinal diseases."

 “Endoscopic bariatric therapies offer a viable, safe alternative for patients who have been unsuccessful at weight loss with diet and exercise,” says Dr. Christopher C. Thompson, chair of the ASGE Bariatric Endoscopy Task Force. “They may also be appropriate for patients who are not suitable for, or are unwilling to undergo, a more invasive surgical procedure.”

Inside the procedure

During the outpatient procedure, one or more intragastric balloons are placed in the stomach through the mouth using flexible endoscopes while the patient is under mild sedation. The saline-filled balloons help patients feel full so they eat smaller amounts, and are typically deflated and removed after six months.

ASGE experts have set effectiveness criteria for endosopic bariatric therapies intended as a primary treatment for obesity, saying they should result in patients losing a minimum of 25 percent of their excess weight in a 12-month period. Patients considering one of these procedures should discuss options and expectations with their health care team.

Healthy repercussions

Studies show there is a positive correlation between weight loss and an improvement in obesity-related gastrointestinal diseases. Many of these diseases significantly impact both the quality and longevity of life.

Endoscopic bariatric therapies provide another adjunct therapy when used as part of a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary treatment program that includes behavioral medicine, nursing care, nutritional support and other obesity management components. Patients should remain in a lifestyle support program for a year to maintain weight loss.