It started out as a joke — a dopey idea for weight loss that looked like trouble waiting to happen, except the FDA actually approved it.
It’s the “belly balloons,” which are slipped into the stomach empty in a quickie in-patient procedure and then filled with liquid.
One you have a gut full of balloon juice, you feel fuller and eat less.
Or, maybe you just feel like a balloon animal. That might sound like a hoot, but don’t start laughing yet.
This has quickly turned serious — DEAD serious, with an urgent new warning from the FDA itself exposing the true risks.
So far, the agency says there have been at least FIVE DEATHS linked to two common types of weight-loss balloons last year.
All of them died within a month of the balloon being dunked in and pumped up, with three of the deaths coming within one to three days.
The feds claim they don’t know the actual causes of the deaths, only that these folks dropped after having the procedure. And if that’s not bad enough, the feds also say they’re looking into two other deaths related to the complications of these terrible things.
One patient had a gastric perforation, which is essentially a hole punched through the stomach. The other had a hole up top, with a perforation in the esophagus.
There’s no GOOD way to die, short of in your sleep at the ripe old age of 120.
But those? Those sound like absolutely terrible ways to go, and I’m STILL not done getting through the list of warnings here.
Earlier this year, the agency sent out an alert on unexpected complications including acute pancreatitis, a.k.a. a pancreas that swells like, well… a balloon.
The feds have even warned of “spontaneous hyperinflation,” or when the balloon overfills with excess air or even more balloon juice. That leads to a world of misery, including severe pain and lots of puking.
That’s one way to lose weight!
Other effects of those complications include breathing difficulties and abdominal swelling.
But is the FDA ready to recall them? Cut them off? Shut them down? Pop the cursed things?
If you think this agency is ready to lift a finger in the name of patient safety, I’m going to burst your bubble — because it’s doing NONE of those things.
Instead, the agency took its favorite action: It wrote a letter.
The agency fired off a safety alert to docs. Keep pumping up bellies while it works to “better understand the issue of unanticipated death.”
This thing doesn’t need to better understood. It needs to be treated like balloons after a birthday party: Popped, tossed out, and forgotten.
If you need to lose weight, skip the gimmicks and get back to basics with plain old healthy eating.
No one’s EVER died of that.