Stanford offering new weight loss option using balloons

STANFORD, CA -- For many people who are seriously overweight, the challenge of dropping pounds is often difficult and urgent. But now, a new technology available at Stanford Hospital is offering hope.

Stacy Myers says her weight shot up after a back injury several years ago. "My highest weight was 221 pounds, and I was miserable," she remembers.

At over 200 pounds, Stacy turned to Dr. John Morton and a new technology. It's an alternative to gastric bypass surgery that alters the stomach not with a scalpel, but with balloons.

"This is a device that's really meant to catch obesity in its early stages," Morton explains.

Morton says the devices, known as ReShape, is made up of two balloons, which are inserted through the throat using an endoscope. Once in the stomach, the balloons are inflated. The entire placement takes just minutes.

"And those 10 to 15 minutes can change people's lives, where they can lose the weight and get rid of some of those medical problems that come with weight," Morton says.

He says patients have been able to lose 60 to 70 pounds or more. But unlike gastric bypass surgery, the system doesn't change the anatomy of the stomach. And after six months, doctors deflate the balloons and simply remove them from the body.

They believe the non-surgical approach could fit a wide range of weight loss patients facing risks like diabetes or heart failure.

"Eighteen million people qualify for weight loss surgery, less than 1 percent are getting needed therapy," he says.

Myers became the first patient on the West Coast to be implanted with the balloons during the procedure at Stanford. Her goal now is to get back into the 140-pound range and return to sports and the outdoor activities she loves.

"I'm anxious for this next chapter of my life. My husband and I are going to be empty nesters in about six months and I'm just ready for a new me," she says smiling.

One note is that doctors say patients must have a body mass index in the obese range to qualify for the procedure.

Written and produced by Tim Didion
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