Weight loss

Somerset NHS rolls out ground-breaking gastric balloon treatment for weight loss patients

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has become the first non-private sector organisation to introduce a ground-breaking gastric ballon procedure to help weight loss patients get fit for surgery.

The Allurion gastric balloon, made by Allurion Technologies, is the first and only procedure of this kind that does not require surgery, endoscopy or anaesthesia.

The treatment is for those who have BMIs in the 50-60 range and need to get fit for bariatric surgery. These are patients with severe, complicated obesity and therefore have other conditions that lead to poor quality of life such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea, and liver disease.

In the two months after the treatment, the first two patients who underwent this procedure lost around two stone.

“Patients lose on average 10-15% of their weight…” – Professor Richard Welbourn

The treatment works by swallowing a balloon capsule which inflates and remains in the stomach for approximately four months when it eventually self-empties and passes out naturally. This curbs the patient’s hunger while they undergo a behaviour change programme.

The treatment takes 15 minutes in total and, because it is non-invasive, patients can be out of hospital in an hour opposed to a longer and even overnight stay.

Before the procedure, patients will be assessed via a series of health checks to ensure they are clinically appropriate for the treatment.

Consultant bariatric surgeon at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Professor Richard Welbourn, said: “We’re very pleased to be able to offer this new treatment, in a first for the NHS, that offers clinically meaningful weight loss as part of a holistic programme involving dietary support and care prior to surgery.

“People with severe obesity are prone to diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, which can be reversed with weight loss so this will have a major effect on their life.”

Prof Welbourn, who treated the first patients using this method at Somerset, continued: “The Allurion Balloon is a 15-minute outpatient procedure, and is swallowed, so there’s no need for an endoscopy, hospital bed, theatre time or anaesthetic, which is better for the NHS and a much-improved experience for our patients.

“Patients lose on average 10-15% of their weight after approximately four months, which improves quality of life and makes patients healthier.”

Allurion says it has an evidence collection of over 30 peer-reviewed studies that show its treatment is a safe and effective way to lose weight.

Three more patients are scheduled to have the procedure at Somerset next month, while another dozen are expected throughout the year.

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust says the partnership and roll-out of the procedure further secures its place as a centre of excellence for bariatric surgery – an accolade it has held for the last 15 years.

Image credit: iStock

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