Orbera is a non-surgical weight loss system that involves inflating a balloon inside your stomach to reduce hunger cravings. Here’s our Orbera review.
What is Orbera?
Orbera is an “intragastric balloon system”. It enters your stomach and inflates itself in order to trick your body into thinking it’s full.
Orbera may sound weird, but it works in a similar way to other gastric surgeries. Installing the balloon requires only a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure (which can be completed while the patient is under mild sedation).
After the balloon is in place in the stomach, the balloon is filled with saline solution to expand it into a spherical shape. Doctors will choose different amounts of saline (between 400 and 700cc) to match the unique goals of each patient.
Orbera was created by a company named Apollo Endosurgery, Inc. That company is based in Austin, Texas.
On August 5, 2015, the FDA officially approved the use of Orbera as a marketable product across America. The FDA claimed that:
“the device is used in obese adult patients who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 to 40kg/m2 who have been unable to lose weight through diet and exercise.”
The FDA also claimed that the device should be used in complementary fashion with diet and exercise “supervised by a health care provider.” Like most weight loss treatments, it’s not an instant way to lose weight while sitting on the couch all day.
Orbera is the first major intragastric balloon in the United States. However, intragastric balloons have previously been approved for use in Canada, Australia, Mexico, India, and several European and South American countries. Prior to being approved by the FDA, Orbera was used for over 20 years around the world.
How Does Orbera Work?
Doctors insert a deflated balloon into your stomach through your mouth. This balloon is then filled with a saline solution (salt water). The entire installation takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes from beginning to end and comes with minimal recovery times.
When the balloon expands into a spherical shape, the effects of Orbera immediately start to take effect.
Essentially, Orbera helps you feel fuller. Since you have a large sphere in your stomach taking up a significant amount of space, you end up eating less food.
The treatment is designed as a temporary solution and should be removed after 6 months.
Clinical Studies on Orbera
Prior to being approved by the FDA, Orbera underwent a large clinical study. The results of the study were sufficient to provide the FDA with enough evidence to approve the treatment.
During the clinical study, “the group of people who used the Orbera Intragastric Balloon lost more weight than those who did not.”
Here are some key points of that study:
— The study involved 255 patients who were followed for one year
— During the study period, 125 patients received the Orbera device and had it in place for six months and then were followed for an additional six months
— 130 patients participated in a “12-month behavior modification program” and did not receive the device
— Patients with the Orbera device lost an average of 21.8 pounds (10.2% of their body weight) after the device had been I place for six months
— Three months after the device was removed (9 total months after device placement), the patients who had received the device had maintained an average of 19.4 pounds of weight loss
— The 130 patients who participated in the behavior modification program (without the device) lost an average of 7.0 pounds and 3.3% of their body weight
Is Orbera Safe?
Orbera was demonstrated to be safe when installed by skilled physicians in a supervised medical setting and removed within six months.
Nevertheless, the FDA cautioned that Orbera is not ideal for all patients. The FDA mentioned that patients with all of the following conditions should not use the device:
— Already have an intragastric balloon
— Have had prior gastrointestinal or bariatric surgery
— Have any inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract
— Have potential upper gastrointestinal bleeding conditions
— Have a large hiatal hernia
— Have a structural abnormality in the esophagus or pharynx
— Have serious esophageal motility disorders
— Have a gastric mass
— Have a severe clotting or bleeding disorder (coagulopathy)
— Have liver failure (hepatic insufficiency) or cirrhosis
— Are known to have or suspected to have an allergic reaction to materials contained in the ORBERA™ system
— Have any other medical condition which would not permit elective endoscopy
— Have a serious prior or present psychiatric illness
— Have alcoholism or drug addiction
— Who are unable or unwilling to take prescribed proton pump inhibitor medication for the duration of the device implant
— Are unable or unwilling to participate in a medically supervised diet and behavior modification program with routine medical follow-up
— Are receiving aspirin, anti-inflammatory agents, blood thinners (anticoagulants) or other gastric irritants
— Are pregnant or breast-feeding
Ultimately, any patient can receive the Orbera device. However, the device is ideally suited only for certain groups of patients – like those who have a BMI over 27, those who are at least 25 pounds overweight, those who have been unable to achieve weight loss goals through diet and exercise, and anyone who is uncomfortable with or ineligible for other types of weight loss surgery.
What to Expect After the Procedure
After the Orbera intragastric balloon is installed, you can expect some mild gastric discomfort, nausea, and vomiting for 3-5 days. This is normal and expected: your gastrointestinal system is adjusting to the presence of the foreign object. Doctors will typically prescribe medications to help you manage these symptoms.
The first three days after installation of the balloon, you’ll be restricted to a liquid diet. Doctors advise drinking lots of water during these 3 days.
You can also drink juices, thin soups or broths, milk, and gelatins.
You’ll need to avoid certain types of foods and beverages, including any solid foods, coffee, carbonated beverages, chocolate, ice cream, and fatty foods.
After the first three days are over, you can slowly transition to eating semi-solid foods like thicker soups and fruit purees. Everybody’s body is different in terms of the time it takes to adjust – so try not to rush into things.
Within 2 weeks of the device’s installation, you should start the exercise program as advised by your doctor. Most Orbera and intragastric balloon surgeries come with nutritional training and an exercise routine.
When following a healthy diet and exercise routine, the expected weight loss for obese individuals with the Orbera device is 30 to 40 pounds lost during the first 6 months.
How is the Balloon Removed?
Removing the balloon is a similar procedure to inserting the balloon in the first place.
First, you’ll need to refrain from eating solid foods 24 hours before your removal procedure. 12 hours before the removal, you’ll need to stop drinking liquids (you’ll be sedated for the removal procedure).
The doctor will first remove the sterile saline from the Orbera device, and then he or she will remove the deflated balloon. The doctor will typically keep you under observation for 20 to 30 minutes. You should not drive yourself home after the procedure.
Who Makes Orbera?
Orbera was created by Apollo Endosurgery, Inc., was claims to be a world leader in minimally invasive endoscopic surgical products for gastrointestinal procedures.
That company is responsible for a number of popular GI products, including the OverStitch endoscopic suturing system and the LAP-BAND adjustable gastric banding system.
According to the official Apollo Endosurgery, Inc. website, ApolloEndo.com, over 220,000 people in 80 countries around the world have used Orbera for weight loss.
Apollo Endosurgery, Inc. is located at the following address:Apollo Endosurgery, Inc
1120 S Capital of Texas Highway #300
Austin, TX 78746
You can contact the company by phone at 1-512-279-5100.
How to Get Started with Orbera
Orbera is available at clinics across America. If you can’t find Orbera doctors in your area, or you want official guidance on the procedure, then you’re advised to contact Orbera directly.
The company has a page setup at their official website where you can schedule a call from an Orbera specialist. Fill out that form here: Orbera.com/call-me-now
Or, call 1-855-MYORBERA to immediately get in touch.
How Much Does Orbera Cost?
Orbera doesn’t list information about pricing on its official website. Instead, it just ignores the question and talks about what a great investment Orbera will be:
“Improving your health and the sense of well-being you gain from eating right and being active is the best investment you can make. It's just a matter of figuring out what will work best for you. Speak to an ORBERA™ Specialist in your area about pricing. They can assist you in understanding your costs and financing options.”
American clinics have been slow to release pricing details (since the treatment was only recently approved, it’s still unavailable throughout most of the country).
Nevertheless, Orbera has been available internationally for years, which gives us an easy way to check pricing details. For example, one Australian clinic offers the following pricing options for Orbera:
— 6 Month Program: $5,550 AUD
— 12 Month Program (one balloon in place for six months, then removed and replaced with another balloon for another six months): $7,550 AUD
Another UK source claims that the treatment costs around £2000 for six months.
Translated to USD, you can expect to pay between $3500 and $5000 USD for Orbera treatment, depending on your location and the relative costs of health care in your region.