MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A recently FDA-approved weight loss balloon is helping South Floridians beat the bulge.
Carine Carballeira is nearing the end of her treatment.
“It’s been one roller coaster, but it’s been a great one,” she said.
As a teenager, Carballeira said she never had to think about her weight.
“I always had that perfect body that people used to tell me, ‘How do you look this way? You don’t work out, you eat everything you can,’” she said.
That all changed at 19, when Caraballeira claims a birth control shot caused her to gain 100 pounds in less than a year, bringing with it depression and a series of medical problems.
“I was going blind,” said the 26-year-old insurance agent from Miami. “I had to go through surgery. I have a shunt now.”
Doctors told her she had to lose weight rapidly for the sake of her health.
Carballeira said she tried “every single diet in the book,” but struggled to see any lasting results.
Conventional weight loss surgeries were also out of the question because of the shunt in her intestines.
That’s when she turned to a relatively new, non-invasive procedure in the U.S. called the ORBERA balloon.
The procedure costs $8,500 and works like an endoscopy.
A balloon is inserted through a patient’s mouth, then placed in their stomach and filled with saline. That tricks the stomach into thinking it is full, even though it is actually consuming less.
The balloon then stays inside for six months.
“Carine is an excellent patient, because she understood that she had to put in the work,” said Dr. Amaryllis Pascual, the South Florida internist monitoring her progress.
Dr. Pascual provides regular assistance and support to ORBERA patients for an entire year after the procedure, which is included in the overall cost.
She said the ideal candidate must be clinically obese – meaning a body mass index of at least 30 – and have to be willing to put in the work, exercising and eating right.
Carballeira is one of 20 patients that she has monitored. And out of those 20, Dr. Pascual said 18 have seen significant weight loss results.
As for Carballeira, she has already lost 40 pounds, which is just above average for ORBERA patients.
Her balloon is set to come out later this month.
Despite battling nausea and discomfort in the beginning, she said the results are worth it.
“At the end of the day you do have a foreign object in your stomach that doesn’t belong there so it takes a while to adjust to it,” said Carballeira.