A few months ago I wrote a blog post called “They Want Fat People to Swallow Balloons Now.” In the post, I talked about a fairly new “weight loss” method in which doctors place balloons into people’s stomachs and then fill them with saline. I pointed out that, according to their own literature, in addition to dangerous and miserable side effects, there are at least a couple of ways that it can kill you:
• Death due to complications related to gastric or esophageal perforation is possible.
• Death due to complications related to intestinal obstruction is possible.
While it didn’t really take a psychic to figure out what was going to happen, I still hoped that I was wrong on this one. Heartbreakingly, I was not.
The FDA reports that five people died within a month of having the procedure, and three of the victims died within just three days. According to a safety alert from the FDA, they also received reports of two additional deaths — one from gastric perforation, the other from esophageal perforation.
According to their statement:
“The FDA continues to work with Apollo Endo-Surgery and ReShape Medical Inc. to better understand the issue of unanticipated death, and to monitor the potential complications of acute pancreatitis and spontaneous over-inflation. Additionally, as part of the ongoing, FDA-mandated post-approval studies for these devices, we will obtain more information to help assess the continued safety and effectiveness of these approved medical devices.”
Note that they aren’t going to ban the practice (thus ending the unanticipated deaths), but rather they hope to better understand the unanticipated deaths. I would point out that, based on the manufacturer’s own warning labels, they knew the risk of these deaths before they happened. Even if we are OK with them feigning ignorance on that, at this point future deaths should be considered “anticipated” — more causalities in the “War on Obesity” which wants us thin or dead and doesn’t seem to care which.
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11 thoughts on “Rx to Swallow Balloons is Killing Fat People”
This is likely to be an issue in UK, where people have usually to self fund; it is apparently rare that NHS will fund it, and most insurance won’t fund it either. Gastric Balloon is widely published as being cheap and temporary and with no changes to anatomy as the other types have. I have even seen the adverts on the sides or backs of buses, as well as newspapers, magazines etc. I know people who have had various of the procedures, and have regained at least some weight, often a lot of weight. The more honest admit that they still have the issues of disordered eating that they had beforehand. Most don’t realise they had food issues. And of course a great many fat people don’t have food issues, and most of those people don’t have the surgery.
Reblogged this on Out of the Rabbit Hole and commented:
My doctor was telling me about this and then I did some research. First of all, this has a very limited weight restriction and not intended for the “very obese or morbidly obese.” And now, surprise, it is killing people. I love her statement:Doctors care about making fat people healthy and not making us disappear.
It is not funded here either in the US. And it is expensive with tons of promises.
The worst part about their denial is their repeat assurance the fatalities represent “a small percentage” of the people who had the procedure… while refusing to say or even give a ballpark estimate of how many people had the procedure. So, industry who assured us Fen-Phen was totally safe, and we’re just supposed to take their word for that.
For some people, 1 in a million is “a small percentage,” and for others, 1 in 10 is “a small percentage.” When my life is on the line, I know which definition *I* prefer.
Give me real numbers, please!
This is simply insane. Thank you so much for posting about this. I agree they would rather see fat people die than be fat. Where are the Medical ethics? Non-existent it seems.
Why is dead ever an acceptable outcome for a procedure done on someone whose life isn’t in imminent danger?
I happened to be researching post-gastrectomy diets for cancer patients for another reason (I don’t have cancer) and realized that once you’ve removed all the happy-happy-thin-thin talk, a successful partial gastrectomy of any kind will permanently afflict the person who got it with a strained relationship with food. Portion size, meal scheduling, ingredients, cooking methods, and postprandial activity all have to be strictly monitored or one may become terribly ill. This is true whether one gets the procedure due to cancer or for weight loss purposes. But the plans designed for cancer patients don’t pretend that life after the surgery is a brief period of recuperation followed by Easy Street. The cancer clinics tend to be much more honest about the cost.
I know there are people who get stomach procedures done because they have decided that it’s the best alternative for them. Not my body, not my decision to make. But I still have to wonder how much salesmanship went into their decision.
Jennifer–that is brilliant. Someone (who is more energetic than me) should do a study comparing outcomes of partial gastrectomy by diangnosis (cancer, “obesity”, whatever other reason there may be). I bet the results would be illuminating.
What amazes me about the salesmanship is how much comes from the people who have had WLS! A few years ago I was a party, and around 5 or 6 of the guests had had various version of the op. They were telling me and a couple of other fat people how wonderful it was, how amazing they felt, and suggesting I had it done and how much being thin had changed their life. In between eating morsels of food, then going to the ladies room to vomit. And having sugar rushes and feeling ill. And several were already gaining the weight back. Being at friend’s party I didnt ask the obvious questions, like “how is this good”. But have spoken to a couple of them since, and they are so far in denial it is unbelievable! Only one person is honest and says that all it has done has made her thin, and it hasn’t improved any of the issues she had before, and has created some new ones.
They should not be calling these deaths “unanticipated.” They should not have called them that, in the first place, as they knew the risks, but now that they have actually had such deaths, they certainly should never call them “unanticipated” again.
And just how much warning are patients getting about these “side effects,” anyway? My guess is not much, if any.