Surgeries designed to promote weight loss by restricting the stomach's capacity, like a gastric bypass or gastric banding, have become a common treatment to help chronically obese patients lose weight fast.
But they don't come cheap with a typical price tag of around $20,000 and up.Surgery and administering anaesthetic to patients can also be risky. And an increasing number of these surgeries are getting funded under the public health system; the Ministry of Health has spent more than $30 million on bariatric surgery on almost 2000 patients over the past 5 years.
So could there be a safer, cheaper alternative?
One new idea is a temporary gastric balloon called the Elipse that gets swallowed in pill form and then filled up with water in the stomach. No surgery, no anaesthetic, and it deflates after 16 weeks and gets excreted out - and all for less than a quarter of the cost of most types of bariatric surgery.
Shantanu Gaur is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Allurion Technologies, makers of the Elipse balloon.