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U.S. Intragastric Balloon Patient Debut and What It Costs Today

Tim Boyer's picture
Cost of Weight Loss

Just approved by the FDA this month, the intragastric balloon already has its first US patient/customer. Here’s what he had to say about the procedure and what you can expect it will cost you to lose 20 pounds in 6 months.


The intragastric balloon weight loss procedure, also known as “ORBERA,” involves endoscopically inserting a small, soft silicon balloon in its deflated state into your mouth, down your throat and into your stomach while under light sedation. Once in place, the balloon is inflated with about 600 milliliters of sterile saline that decreases the free space available for food and at the same time stimulates stretch receptors in the stomach muscle tricking the brain into thinking it is full. The ideal patient is someone who is moderately overweight with a BMI of at least 30 but just cannot seem to lose those extra pounds with dieting and exercise.

According to CBS affiliate station WCCO 4 in Minnesota, 5-foot-9, 221 pound gastric balloon patient Mark Harlan states that, “It’s pretty obvious if you look at me that I need to lose a few pounds. I’ve been trying and I’ve been trying and I’ve been trying, and it doesn’t work,” he said. However, according to health experts familiar with the procedure he can expect to lose approximately 20 pounds in the next 6 months before the temporary balloon measure is discontinued.

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But there’s more to it than just going in and having the intragastric balloon inserted by medical professionals and wait for the weight loss magic to happen—you have to do your part too. Following insertion of the intragastric balloon, you can expect to meet regularly with weight loss experts for the next 6 months to monitor your progress and receive education and training about how to adopt lifestyle changes to achieve long-term weight loss success.

So what does this latest FDA approved weight loss procedure cost? Twenty minutes of your time under anesthesia, and depending on the facility—six-to-eight thousand dollars, which is significantly cheaper than either the gastric bypass or gastric sleeve procedures. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not currently cover this weight loss procedure. However, some clinics reportedly offer weekly payment plans to help make the procedure affordable for everyone.

For a testimonial from a past ORBERA patient who lost not 20 pounds, but 22 kilograms, here is a YouTube video to watch. For more details about OBERA, check out this FDA info page about this weight loss procedure.

Reference: CBS affiliate station WCCO 4 Minnesota “Minnesota Patient 1st To Try New Weight Loss Balloon