3 March, 2023

Which Gastric Balloon Is The Best? Orbera vs Spatz vs Obalon

Losing weight on your own can be challenging and may not even be possible. Research has shown that individuals suffering from obesity and having higher BMI levels have less than a 1% chance of losing enough weight to bring their BMI to a healthy level without some type of medical intervention.

Historically, medical intervention would mean bariatric surgery but thanks to advancements in the field of endoscopic bariatrics, there are non-surgical options available. These options can help individuals lose a significant amount of weight without the risks or recovery time associated with a surgical procedure.

If you have been researching non-surgical weight loss options, chances are you have run across some information about gastric balloon procedures.

Today, we are going to provide an overview of how a gastric balloon works, how much weight you can expect to lose, and why we think the Orbera® is the best gastric balloon procedure available today.

How Do You Determine The Best Gastric Balloon Procedure?

If you do an internet search on Google to learn about gastric balloons, the information that is returned can be unclear or conflicting. Much of what is available is outdated or the balloon being discussed is no longer being used. You may also find information on balloons that are not approved by the FDA for use in the United States. It can be challenging to navigate and decipher what information to use when deciding which gastric balloon is best for you.

To make an informed decision, you need to have a basic understanding of gastric balloons and how they work and then consider the available choices and how they compare.

Orbera vs Spatz3 vs Obalon

Gastric Balloon Basics

A gastric balloon is a temporary medical device made of a soft silicone material that is filled with a liquid or gas to about a grapefruit size and placed in a patient’s stomach.

Balloons can be placed through an endoscopic procedure or they can be introduced to the stomach through a capsule that the patient swallows. Gastric balloons are generally only used for 6 months and then removed. Removal is done endoscopically and takes between 20 and 30 minutes.

The procedure does not require any incisions and is not surgery. A special medical tool called an endoscope is used to gain access to the stomach. The endoscope is thin and flexible and resembles a hollow tube with a camera and a light attached to its end. The doctor uses the live video feed from the endoscopic camera during the procedure to help guide their actions.

An endoscope is carefully lowered down a patient’s throat while they are sedated which allows the doctor to place a deflated balloon into the stomach or to deflate and remove a balloon. Contrast x-rays are used to determine if a balloon has reached the correct destination before inflation if using the capsule balloon.

How Does The Balloon Help With Weight Loss?

Once inflated, the balloon takes up about 2/3 of the stomach’s capacity, which limits their meal portions. The presence of the balloon in the stomach also causes the stomach to empty more slowly, helping the patient to feel full longer. The balloon provides a combination of portion control and appetite suppressant that helps promote weight loss.

In the six months that the balloon remains in the patient’s stomach, they are becoming accustomed to eating smaller portions and following a program geared toward making healthy lifestyle choices, including daily exercise and a healthy diet. The idea is for them to continue following this program even after the balloon is removed and for the duration of their lifetime.

Patients who continue practicing the new behavior patterns they have learned with the balloon will continue to lose weight and maintain their weight loss.

How Do I Choose The Best Weight Loss Balloon?

There are some things to take into consideration when you are choosing a weight loss balloon. The most important is that it must be FDA-approved for use in the United States. Currently, there are three approved balloons to choose from: the Orbera, the Obalon, and the most recently approved Spatz3.

All of the approved gastric balloons work through the same techniques of portion control and appetite suppression but they all have unique differences. Some gastric balloon programs use a single balloon, some use multiple balloons, and one offers an adjustable balloon. For a quick overview and comparison of the available gastric balloons in the United States, see the chart below.

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Gastric Balloon Comparison Chart FDA-Approved in the US
Number Of Balloons In Stomach Placement Method National Average Cost Average Expected Weight Loss (%TBW) Inflated With
Orbera Gastric Balloon
1 single balloon Inserted with an endoscope $8,245 15.4% Saline
Obalon Gastric Balloon
3 individual balloons placed gradually in one-month intervals The patient swallows a capsule containing the balloon $6,500-9,500 7% Gas
Spatz3 Gastric Balloon
1 single adjustable balloon Inserted with an endoscope $6,000-9,000 14.9% Saline

A recently published study reviewed different intragastric balloons and the Orbera, Spatz3, and Obalon were included. The following observations are worthy of consideration when choosing the best gastric balloon.

The Orbera Balloon

  • Weight loss results experienced by the patients in 7 combined studies using the Orbera balloon were the most favorable compared to the other balloons.
  • The trade-off for offering the higher weight loss was approximately 81% of these patients experienced a significant amount of uncomfortable side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal pain for the first week because it is filled with liquid saline compared to a gas-filled balloon. Gas-filled balloons like Obalon do not offer as much weight loss potential.

Spatz3

  • The volume of liquid saline in the Spatz3 balloon is designed to be adjustable and can be decreased to respond to chronic side effects and is also meant to offer more weight loss potential because the balloon volume can be increased to combat weight loss plateaus. The takeaway from the study was that no notable difference was seen between the group for whom adjustments were made and the group that had no adjustments during the clinical trials.
  • Almost 6% of the patients with the Spatz3 balloon experienced serious adverse events (gastric ulcers made up 4%). The complication rate for Spatz3 was 16.4 % overall;
  • Nausea was experienced by about 90% of participants using the Spatz3 balloon.
  • A consensus of international experts met to discuss safety standards for gastric balloons. According to the directives defined by these experts during this conference, for a gastric balloon to be considered effective and safe, it must have a completely smooth surface, not cause obstructions, erosion, or ulcers, be constructed with materials that do not leak and it should be filled with liquid.

According to these directives, the Spatz3 does not meet these standards because it is not completely smooth. It contains a filling valve mechanism that creates a sort of “tail” that flows loosely and has been known to cause acute pancreatitis.

Obalon

  • The Obalon gastric balloon is introduced to the patient’s stomach when they swallow a capsule that contains a deflated balloon. It does not require an endoscopic procedure. However, fluoroscopy (an x-ray that uses contrast) is used to ensure the balloon is in the proper place while it is inflated. The individual experiences exposure to radiation during the fluoroscopy and the longer it takes to complete, the more they are exposed.
  • The Obalon gastric balloon requires three separate trips to the doctor’s office spaced out in one-month intervals to add each balloon to the stomach.
  • The Obalon gastric balloon delivered results that were significantly less than the liquid-filled balloons. It also did not conform to the conference directives because it is filled with nitrogen gas.
  • Nausea was experienced by 55% of participants.

Why Orbera Is The Best Gastric Balloon Procedure

At Simmons Advanced Weight Loss Solutions, we use the Orbera weight loss balloon because we know it is reliable, safe, and trusted by us and many other providers. Personal experience, clinical studies, proven results, and research data spanning Orbera’s long history of use make it our choice of the best gastric balloon for our patients.

1. Orbera Design
The Orbera balloon is the product of 20 years of creativity and technology. The pioneering ingenuity and design of the Orbera balloon have been used as a benchmark for all gastric balloons that have been manufactured since. The Orbera balloon is the only gastric balloon that meets all the standards for effectiveness and safety as outlined in the directives from the conference of international experts.
2. Orbera’s Performance History
Before it was approved for use in the United States, Orbera had been used in other countries for several years. Multiple studies and clinical trials have proven its safety and efficacy.
3. Personal Experience
At Simmons Advanced Weight Loss Solutions, we have worked with patients and have first-hand knowledge of the success achieved with the Orbera balloon. We supported patients during their weight loss journey and have witnessed their fantastic results firsthand in our Miami location.
4. Comprehensive Support
When supported by an entire team, patients are set up for weight loss success. The Orbera gastric balloon program has a proprietary application for patient support called Apollo Care. Patients have access to this application to keep them on track to meet their weight loss goals during the entire 12-month Orbera weight loss program.
5. Apollo Care Provides
  • Individualized sessions with Expert dieticians
  • A format to track meals
  • Ongoing motivation
  • Access to education on many subjects including nutrition, fitness, lifestyle changes, and more.
  • A database of healthy recipes to choose from

To Ensure Success, Choose A Qualified Professional

Many times, patients lose weight just to regain it and it becomes a frustrating cycle. Generally, patients who have attempted to lose weight through diet and exercise and have been unsuccessful have underlying conditions that prevent or inhibit their weight loss. At Simmons Advanced Weight loss Solutions, we work to identify and address the conditions that are thwarting your weight loss efforts so you can reach your weight loss goals.

An experienced doctor who is expertly trained in endoscopic weight loss procedures should be chosen to place your Orbera gastric balloon. It is critical to choose a specialist that is trained in the resolution of obesity or bariatric-related complications and to weed out endoscopists that have limited experience.

The study mentioned earlier discussed safety concerns surrounding inexperienced doctors and the type of balloons that you can swallow. Since these balloons do not require the expertise of an endobariatric doctor, it opens the door for a doctor that is less experienced to attempt to support these patients without having the proper training and expertise to address complications that come on suddenly and compromise the patient’s safety.

If you are considering a non-surgical weight loss procedure and are looking for a doctor that offers the Orbera intragastric balloon in Miami, you have found one! Simmons Advanced Weight Loss Solutions offer comprehensive individualized weight loss options including the Orbera balloon. Contact us today to learn more about how a gastric balloon procedure may help you achieve your weight loss goals without surgery.

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