Filling the Stomach, Reducing Waistlines

Rush Oak Park Hospital offers new nonsurgical treatment for excessive weight

By Brad Spencer and Deb Song

Oak Park, IL (Jan. 21, 2016) – Being overweight or obese isn't just a cosmetic problem. These conditions greatly raise risk of major health problems, including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and other chronic issues.

Shredding excessive weight can be difficult, especially for people who need to do it the most — those whose body mass index (BMI) indicates they fall into the unhealthy obesity range. When consistent exercise and diet aren’t doing the trick, another element to lose weight may be needed to kick-start the way to a healthy lifestyle.

Now physicians at Rush Oak Park Hospital are offering a treatment for obesity called intragastric balloon procedure, a new procedure that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just approved last year. The nonsurgical solution is available for adults with a BMI of 30 to 40 who have tried natural methods of losing weight without success.

Ballooning to three times more weight loss

The intragastric balloon procedure places a balloon in a patient's stomach that fills space in order to reinforce proper food portion control. The procedure, on average, only takes 30 minutes. With the patient under mild sedation, a balloon is inserted using an endoscope that is guided down the patient’s throat and into the stomach.

Once in place, the silicon balloon is filled with up to 500 cc of saline, so that it expands and induces a feeling of fullness. The balloon is removed six months later.

The balloon procedure is to be used in conjunction with a long-term supervised diet and behavior-modification program, which are to be continued after device removal.

Data collected in a U.S. clinical trial showed that the average person lost more than three times the weight using the intragastric balloon procedure as compared with diet and exercise alone within six months.

“The balloon therapy can help overweight patients who don’t want to have surgery but haven’t been able to achieve adequate weight loss with changes in diet and lifestyle, lose 20 to 40 pounds,” says Alfonso Torquati, MD, director of the Center for Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgery at Rush. “But it requires active participation. It’s very important to maintain a consistent fitness plan and diet after the balloon is removed.”

Weight loss center provides experienced, multidisciplinary team approach

Established in 2015 at Rush University Medical Center, the center provides care from a team that includes surgeons, endocrinologists, nurses, dietitians and psychologists. They are led by Torquati, who is professor and section chief of metabolic and bariatric surgery at Rush as well as director of the center.

Torquati brought to the Chicago area more than 20 years of experience at Duke University and Vanderbilt University, where he developed an international reputation as a leader in bariatric and foregut surgery and obesity research. He and bariatric surgeon Philip Omotosho, MD, will perform the intragastric balloon procedure at Rush Oak Park Hospital.

"Obesity is a chronic disease, and we are pleased to be able to offer this new, minimally invasive solution to help transform the lives of obese patients before their disease progresses further,” Torquati says.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (708) 660-4636.