If you are over-weight, you no doubt have heard of and maybe even considered some of the medical procedures that exist which can alter the stomach in order to reduce or limit the body's ability to overfeed.
There are several such procedures. But all of them have involved actual surgery, and sometime PERMANENT alteration of bodily functions, such as with gastric bypass. It has always alarmed me that actually cutting and eliminating part of the digestive system would be seriously considered by anyone as a solution to their wieght problem. Even the less radical lap band procedure, where a lasso is tied around part of the stomach in order to partially constrict it, still involved cutting into body and the risks that entails.
But recently in Europe, a new procedure known as the gastric balloon (or stomach balloon) has been developed. It is actually brilliant in its simplicity (and safety), in that it merely places a balloon/bladder inside the stomach to take up volume and reduce capacity. The balloon is filled with saline, so even if it somehow ruptures, nothing toxic is released. With the balloon/bladder in place, it takes less food intake to produce a feeling of fullness, AND the device acts as an obstacle to food quickly passing from the stomach into the rest of the digestive tract, causing the sense of fullness to last 3 or 4 times longer than usual. Patients eat what they would normally eat, and quite naturally and with almost no effort, begin to lose wieght. When it is time to remove the balloon, the fluid is extracted from it and the deflated balloon withdrawn. It all takes less than a day, with patients walking out and going home under their own power.
I have been tracking the development of the accessibility to this procedure since I first heard about it 2 years ago. While the procedure is not yet approved in the United States, it has been growing wildly in popularity everywhere else. As this has happened, doctors have gained experience and costs have gone down.
As with many other types of medical services you cannot get in the US, the gastric balloon is available to cash-paying customers in Mexico. When I first looked into getting this done south of the border 2 years ago, the average price was just over $5000. Considering that getting the FDA approved lap band procedure here in the states costs about $20,000 that was a bargain! But being on a tight budget as I am and recovering from having been laid off back in 2007, I still couldn't afford to do it.
But it is getting cheaper!! Today I checked back with some mexican medical tourism travel agencies that I have found online, and guess what the latest going rate is for this gastric procedure? The prices have dropped to only $3,300!!!!
I'm beginning to run out of excuses why I am not yet doing this. (I also can't help but wonder how cheap it would be if the dollar wasn't going under on its downward slide.)
So I'm now officially setting aside funds to get this procedure done for myself. I hope to have enough to go forward by mid-year. Thusly (if all goes well), by this time next year I might have an entire personal experience regarding this procedure to share with you all.
To learn more about the gastric balloon procedure, check out these links.