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Published on February 17, 2016

MU Health Care Offers New Non-surgical Weight-loss Procedure

Roger de la Torre, MD, director of Missouri Bariatric Services, talks with David Lile of KFRU about the new intragastric balloon weight-loss procedure.

With millions of Americans resolving to lose weight in 2016, bariatric surgeons at University of Missouri Health Care are now offering a new minimally invasive weight-loss option. MU Health Care is one of only a few health systems in the state to offer the new intragastric balloon weight-loss procedure.

During the procedure, an endoscopic tube is inserted through the mouth and into the stomach. At the end of the tube is a deflated silicone balloon, which is then pumped with a salt-water solution into a sphere shape. The balloon, which inflates to the size of a baseball or softball depending on the individual, takes up volume in the stomach, which allows patients to feel fuller faster. This results in a decreased appetite and a reduction in food intake that leads to weight loss. After six months in the stomach, the balloon is deflated and removed endoscopically.

The device has been used more than 220,000 times in more than 80 countries, and approximately 230 papers have been published documenting its clinical results."There are no incisions, and the procedure can be done in about 30 minutes," said Roger de la Torre, MD, chief of MU Health Care’s Missouri Bariatric Services and director of MU's Biodesign and Innovation Program. “The balloon is just part one of a two-part process. The patient also sees a dietitian and bariatrician to improve his or her eating habits. When the balloon procedure is performed in conjunction with improved eating habits, it’s possible that a patient can lose between 20 to 30 pounds in approximately six months. The patient's newly developed healthy eating habits are designed to continue long after the balloon is removed."

"Patients who used the balloon for its intended six-month period are able to lose, on average, three times as much body weight as participants who only adhered to a diet and exercise plan,” de la Torre said. “The procedure is ideal for individuals looking to safely lose weight without undergoing major surgery. Additionally, whenever someone loses weight, his or her existing medical conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and back pain are improved."

To qualify for traditional weight-loss surgery, a patient must have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, or have a BMI of 35 or greater with high-risk health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. To qualify for the balloon procedure, a patient must have a BMI between 30 and 40.

Like all weight-loss procedures, a healthier weight is not a one-time commitment, but a lifestyle change. Specialists at Missouri Bariatric Services guide patients on their journey toward health, both before and after a procedure. Through educational seminars, patients are supported by a multidisciplinary team of weight-loss specialists.

In addition to the balloon procedure, the specialists at Missouri Bariatric Services also offer Roux-en Y gastric bypass surgery, vertical sleeve gastrectomy and adjustable gastric band procedures. The program also accepts candidates for revision of a previous bariatric surgery on a case-by-case basis. Non-surgical weight-loss options offered include medications, supplements and meal-replacement programs.

Missouri Bariatric Services at MU Health Care is accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program for comprehensive, high-quality patient care.

For more information, please visit or call 573-882-LOSE (5673).

Click here for a high-resolution portrait of Roger de la Torre, MD.