Dr. David Katz, who teaches weight management at Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, Connecticut, said that while bariatric surgery should be a last resort, his concern about Obalon is the user’s ability to maintain the weight loss after the balloon comes out.
“The stomach is a hormone-producing organ, and bariatric surgery actually influences the production of a hormone called ghrelin, and that’s part of the effect of the surgery,” he said.
“Does the balloon do that? Will it rival the effects of surgery? Because the effects of the surgery, for the most part, are permanent, and if you have a balloon put in your stomach to make you eat less and you lose weight, are you then dependent on that balloon for the rest of your life?”
Ortiz said patients come to him not only for the Obalon capsule, but for other treatments that are approved in the United States, but cheaper in Mexico, such as plastic and gastric-bypass surgeries. The balloon pill costs about $4,000, a fraction of what a gastric bypass surgery costs, and is much less invasive.
“We use exactly the same equipment, exactly the same instruments, exactly the same standards that are used in the United States without the overhead costs of operating in the United States with all that red tape,” Ortiz said.
The pill is supposed to be removed after three months. In the first 30 days, Kimmy and Daisy Markley said they saw results in the first 30 days: Markley lost 10 pounds and Kimmy lost 22 pounds.
Both women are halfway to hitting their goals, but the true test will be when the balloons come out in two months and whether they can keep the weight off.