A Healthy and Holistic Approach to Tackling Obesity

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in three people are considered overweight or obese in the UK, a statistic that’s been steadily rising and can lead to a multitude of health implications.

Previously, obesity surgery was the last resort in helping patients to lose weight, but the Medical Specialist Group (MSG) has recently introduced a new, holistic approach to weight loss that has already been shown to have a positive impact on the lives of patients across the globe. Mr. Michael Van den Bossche a leading surgeon with 25 years of experience in weight loss surgery and management, talked to us about the Allurion gastric balloon and how it could improve the lives of islanders.

As Michael explains, obesity has become an increasing concern across the globe and is now considered an epidemic in the UK, where it is the leading cause of premature death after smoking. The Covid pandemic has contributed to its rise, with lockdowns, lack of exercise, and loss of freedom contributing to obesity levels. Its health implications are vast and affect both psychological and physical wellbeing. Heart disease, Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and joint disease are common complications of obesity but many cancers are also influenced by the condition and diseases like liver cirrhosis. Obesity is currently responsible for killing more people than the pandemic, a stark indication of how serious it is.

For many, medical assistance is a last resort. Around 76% of patients I see are frustrated with previous weight loss solutions that are not meeting their expectations. It’s common to talk to patients who have endured years of yo-yo dieting, fitness failure, and ineffective weight-loss supplements. They recognise that they need to lose weight to improve their physical health but also boost their self-esteem. The Allurion gastric balloon has only recently been approved for use over here. Previously, my patients travelled from Guernsey and Jersey to Southampton to have the procedure done, often having heard about it through social media or word of mouth. I see patients of all ages, from people in their twenties to those in their sixties.

Before, obesity surgery offered an effective solution but it’s very invasive and requires a longer recovery time. The Allurion Programme requires no surgery, endoscopy, or anaesthesia yet, on average, patients lost an average10-15% of their total body weight.

Patients also receive multidisciplinary support through a strategy that’s tailored to meet their needs. It’s not a cure, patients also need to improve their lifestyles, but they’re fully supported with regular consultancy and direct access for health and advice. We’ve found that up to 95% of weight loss is sustained, and we know that by losing 5% of your body weight you can reduce your risk of developing obesity-related complications like diabetes and heart disease. Beyond the physical benefits, patients reported improvements in other areas of their life, from greater self-esteem and a better sex life to a reduction in public distress and an improvement at work.

The whole experience usually takes around 15 minutes. The patient is instructed to swallow a small capsule, that contains a balloon attached to a thin tube. Once an X-ray confirms that the capsule is in the correct position, the balloon is filled with 550ml of fluid, the size of a pint. A second X-ray confirms that the balloon is filled before the tube is gently removed. The balloon will stay in place for approximately 16 weeks before it self-empties and passes naturally. With the balloon taking up space in the stomach, patients experience feelings of fullness and are inclined to eat smaller portions and reduce snacking.

Over 50,000 balloons have already been distributed across the globe, and the criteria for qualification are wide-ranging. If you’re over 18 years old with a BMI greater than 27, you’re a suitable candidate. Some abdominal operations and history of bowel obstructions or conditions can rule patients out, and we won’t treat anyone with previous psychiatric issues, including bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Some patients struggle with swallowing the pill but these instances are scarce and nearly 100% of patients of a recent trial were able to swallow the pill with only 32% needing assistance. I know how important peace of mind is to patients, so it’s reassuring that Allurion provide a warranty covering the cost of treatment in the rare instance that complications arise.

I’m always clear that the balloon is not a miracle cure, people need to do their part but you’re fully supported in your weight-loss journey. We are always available for a confidential consultation and you also have four months’ dietary coaching from a trained dietitian, who can advise you on dietary and lifestyle changes. The Allurion Health Tracker and App also help you to follow your progress with BMI, weight, and body fat monitoring. You can even share your journey with family and friends and there’s a private Facebook Group for extra support. The Allurion Programme is currently available to private patients at The Medical Specialist Group.

For more information, please contact [email protected] or telephone: 01481 238565