While many people turn to cosmetic surgery procedures such as liposuction, body contouring and breast reduction to improve their appearance, others seek surgeries that will help them shed unwanted pounds. A new procedure that's not approved in the U.S. is causing some Americans to cross borders.
The intragastric balloon is a liquid-filled, balloon-like device that is inserted into the stomach via the esophagus for a short period of time (around six months) to aid in weight loss. This is a viable weight loss option for lighter individuals who may not be candidates for other forms of bariatric surgery. And, although the procedure is not performed in the U.S., it is popular in Canada, Europe and South America for those who need to lose less than 50 pounds. It may eventually become available stateside, as trials with the Food and Drug Administration are in their early states, the Times reports.
However, it seems for some Americans, the procedure can’t come soon enough. Some patients have opted to go north to have the procedure performed by Canadian doctors. American patients account for about a third of those seeking intragastric balloons in Canada.
"Studies of the balloon have reported weight loss ranging from 13 to 34 pounds on average, with some individuals losing up to 50 pounds," the newspaper reported. "Patients often gain weight again after the device is removed, though long-term studies are limited."
Individuals who lose weight due to an intragastric balloon need to make lifestyle changes to maintain the results. Changes in diet and exercise habits are crucial for those looking to lose weight and keep excess pounds off, according to the news outlet.
Much like medical tourism for plastic surgery, getting surgery abroad makes follow-up checkups difficult if not impossible. Being close to your surgeon and making regular visits is crucial to the success of a surgery as well as preventing any dangerous complications.