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Wednesday 29 June |
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A “magic pill” to lose the pounds? The fantasy becomes reality…sort of

Elipse gastric balloon

Allurion Technologies/YouTube

Elizabeth Scalia - published on 05/19/17

As someone who has struggled with her weight these past twenty-odd years, I can confirm that I — along with many thousands, perhaps millions of others — have sometimes wished for the “magic pill” that helps melt away the pounds.

Now, it seems, the thing is, kind of, a real possibility. Except the pill is actually a gastric balloon (swallowed in “pill” form), and yes eventually it pops:

The balloon pops after four months and passes out painlessly through the body. Italian researcher Dr. ­Roberta Ienca said patients found the pill — called the Elipse Balloon — “incredible.” She told the European Congress on Obesity in Porto, Portugal: “It appears to be safe and effective. “It doesn’t require surgery or anesthesia. This may make it suitable for a larger population of patients not responding to diet and lifestyle treatment.”

A gastric weight-loss system that doesn’t require invasive and often risky surgery is certainly a welcome idea, and this sounds like it could be a real boon to people who have tried every diet, lost weight and eventually gained it back. In initial testing subjects weighing around 250 pounds lost an average of around 34 pounds — as long as they ate sensibly — over four month’s time.

Cost of the “pill” treatment runs from between $2,900 to $4,500, which sounds cheap compared to the cost of invasive surgery, but then again, it’s only a four-month treatment. Some people may need to repeat the process several times, although the report cited here doesn’t address that.

Still, this sounds like it could be a very promising option for many, many people, and I’d bet insurance companies would rather cover this — even repeatedly — than have to cover medical expenses for type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and joint wreckage.

Would I use it? I don’t know. Right now I’m in the process of losing weight another way — wholly different from anything I’ve done in my life. But I’m not ready to write about that, yet.

Meanwhile, though this story just showed up today, this video is from over a year ago:

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