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Shawn Garber
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MD, FACS, Director of Plastic Surgery
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New FDA approved ORBERA Balloon

Nov. 10, 2015 by Shawn Garber
ORBERA Intragastric Balloon


The options for people struggling with obesity have increased. The ORBERA Intragastric Balloon System was just approved by the FDA and is now available!

I work with patients fighting obesity every day. Obesity affects more than 78.6 million U.S. adults and is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the U.S. If trends in U.S. obesity continue, it is estimated that by 2030, roughly half of all men and women will be obese. Obesity can increase the risk of more than 30 chronic health conditions, including: type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), asthma and other respiratory conditions, and numerous cancers.

In order to combat obesity, it is important to understand the underlying causes and your weight loss options. Obesity is generally caused when the intake of calories is higher than the amount that is burned through exercise and activity. Obesity is also influenced by a variety of behavioral, environmental and genetic factors, which can include: unhealthy diet, inactivity, lack of sleep, pregnancy, medications, medical problems, and metabolism.

Many people seek weight loss through diet and exercise alone and do not achieve the results they desire. At my practice, we offer proven treatment options to help individuals of all shapes, sizes and BMIs. I write this article to inform readers that I am one of the handful of surgeons to offer Apollo Endosurgery’s recently FDA approved ORBERA™ Intragastric Balloon system. What I like about ORBERA is that it requires no permanent changes to a patient’s body. It requires no incisions, no healing time, and no overnight stays in a medical facility. It is a treatment program that can help kick start a pathway to weight loss success, better eating habits, and a healthier life.

Criteria for ORBERA Balloon Managed Weight Loss System

An intragastric balloon is a non-permanent, non-surgical and non-drug solution option for adult patients with a BMI of 30 to 40 and who have attempted more conservative weight reduction alternatives. The balloon is part of the ORBERA Managed Weight Loss System – a comprehensive, two-part program that starts with the durable balloon filling space in a patient’s stomach to reinforce proper portion control and is then followed with exercise, diet, nutrition and emotional support programs. We offer all of these elements as part of our practice.

What can you expect from balloon insertion and removal? In a non-surgical procedure typically done under a mild sedative, the thin and deflated ORBERA™ balloon is placed into the stomach. It is then filled with saline until it’s about the size of a grapefruit. The procedure normally takes about 20-30 minutes and people can generally go home the same day. Once the balloon is in place, the 12-month coaching program begins. At six months, the balloon is removed in the same way it was placed. Through a non-surgical procedure done under a mild sedative, it is deflated and then removed.


ORBERA Intragastric Balloon Placement & Removal Video


For more than 20 years, the global medical community has been using intragastric balloons to help thousands of people lose weight. More than 220,000 ORBERA balloons have been distributed worldwide and thousands of people—in over 80 countries. Now the treatment is available in the US. The average weight loss is between 20 – 40 pounds. The ORBERA is shown to be superior to diet and exercise with 3.1x the weight loss at 6 months for the ORBERA as compared to diet and exercise. Typically, 70-80% of the weight is lost in the first three months.

The most common side effects with the gastric balloon is nausea and vomiting which usually resolves within the first week. Potential risks include ulcerations in the stomach, balloon deflation which can lead to migration of the balloon and bowel obstruction, perforation of the stomach, gastroesophageal reflux, and aspiration pneumonia. These risks are extremely rare.

My time training in Brazil was an amazing learning experience. We were able to learn from some of the world’s experts on intragastric balloons and were able to actually place and remove balloons during the training. The results I saw firsthand with the intragastric balloon were quite impressive. I removed a balloon on a woman that lost 65 pounds during the 6 months the balloon was in. We are very excited to be one of the first practices in the USA that will be offering this non-surgical procedure.
~Dr. Shawn Garber

It is very important for patients to choose physicians with a comprehensive aftercare program to obtain the greatest success with the ORBERA or any gastric balloon. Ask you physician about the aftercare program and availability of nutritionist, psychologist, and fitness trainer at your consultation.

Photo and Video credit:  Apollo Endosurgery

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About the Author

Dr. Shawn Garber completed his general surgery training at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and went on to complete one of the first advanced laparoscopic surgery fellowships in the country at the The George Washington University Medical Center with world famous laparoscopic surgeon Dr. Jonathan Sackier. Dr. Garber then trained with Dr. Alan Wittgrove (known for operating on singer Carnie Wilson) mastering the laparoscopic gastric bypass procedure for obesity. For more information, visit and
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