New technique may help you achieve target weight

October 2014

Most dieticians will tell you the key to losing weight is burning off more calories than you consume, this is typically achieved through a balanced, healthy diet and regular exercise. It all sounds very simple, but losing weight can be tough! With coffee shops on most high streets enticing us with their full fat coffees and desserts, there’s no surprise some of us struggle to shift a few pounds if we want to.

However, the Obalon gastric balloon may be the answer for some people as a kick start to their weight loss programme. Obalon is non-invasive treatment which can be administered quickly and painlessly in as little as 30 minutes and patients should see results in just 12 weeks. Laura, 29, from Norwich underwent this brand new treatment at Spire Norwich Hospital and, along with Mr Michael Lewis, consultant surgeon, describes her patient experience:

Mr Lewis, what is Obalon and who would it be suitable for?

“Obalon is the first swallowable gastric balloon, which once in the stomach is inflated to the size of an apple. The Obalon balloon works by making you feel fuller faster. Although some patients may experience some side effects, such as nausea, the risks are less than those of similar gastric balloons. The Obalon balloon is not suitable for everyone, patients seeing the best results have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 27-32. It is also important to note that the balloon does need to be removed after 12 weeks, so the patient will require a change to their eating habits in order to glean the best long term results.”

How is the balloon inserted?

“The patient will need a private consultation to determine suitability and if they meet the criteria they will swallow a capsule which contains the balloon, the capsule is attached to a very fine tube (catheter). Once the balloon is in place, our consultant radiologist Dr Jan Saada will X-ray the patient to ensure it’s in position. Dr Saada then fills the balloon with medical gas through the catheter. The balloon sits on top of the stomach and the catheter is then easily detached.”

Laura, what made you enquire about Obalon?

“Obalon looked interesting as it was a non-invasive procedure and I knew I had the support of a consultant and a nursing team to help me along the way.”

What was your dress size before the procedure?

“I was a size 18. I felt very self-conscious about my weight and would dread going shopping for clothes and hate being in photos!”

Talk me through your consultation?

“I met with Mr Lewis and Amanda, the bariatric nurse. After my suitability was assessed, I was put on a strict two-week diet. I lost exactly a stone in these two weeks.”

What happened next?

“To ensure I was able to swallow the Obalon balloon, I had a trial go with a placebo capsule. I swallowed this easily so I knew I’d be OK swallowing the real thing. I met with consultant radiologist Dr Saada in the brand new X-ray suite at Spire Norwich Hospital. Dr Saada was lovely and talked me through the process. I swallowed the Obalon capsule with ease and Dr Saada checked it was in position by X-raying me and once he knew it was, it was inflated. The sensation was a little peculiar but it wasn’t uncomfortable at all.”

How did you feel afterwards?

“I felt nauseous on the first night, but it soon passed. It didn’t take much to make me feel full, so I ate three small meals a day. The great thing about this procedure is it really focuses your mind on your relationship with food. I was very aware of what I was putting in my body and made an effort to ensure all my meals were healthy. After three weeks my appetite started to increase, so that’s when Amanda said it was time to have the second balloon inserted. I was really thrilled with the support I received from everyone at Spire; Amanda called me most days and kept me really motivated and we were both thrilled with what the scales were showing! The second insertion was easier as I knew what to expect.”

How was the removal process?

“It is important to have the balloons removed after three months. I met with Mr Lewis again who removed the balloons through a gastroscopy (a thin catheter inserted into the stomach via the mouth). I was sedated to ensure I was as comfortable as possible. The removal took no longer than 10 minutes.”

What advice would you give anyone thinking about doing this?

“The care I received from Spire Norwich Hospital was superb. Obalon is the best kick start for anyone who wants to lose weight and just needs help to get off on the right foot. The real hard work starts when the balloons are removed, but as I said previously, the procedure has helped change my relationship with food, so I am determined to keep going until I achieve my end goal!”

So Laura, the big question, how much weight have you lost?

“I’ve lost two and a half stone in the last 12 weeks and am thrilled with the results.”

For further information on Obalon, please call 01603 255614 or complete the enquiry form on the right hand side of this page.

The content of this page is provided for general information only. It should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.

Find a treatment, test or scan available at:


Find a consultant

Use one or more of the options below to search for a consultant and link through to view their Spire profile.


Let us help you

fill out this form and we will get back to you:

Please select a hospital

We can call you

Please enter your details below and we will call you back.

What is the aim of your enquiry?

Please select a hospital

If we are unable to reach you by phone, please include your email address so that we can get in touch...

© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)