Ready to lose weight? We’re here to help.

I am pleased to announce Gastrointestinal Associates’ launch of GIA 180, a new weight loss management division that uses a balanced, multifaceted and surgery-free approach to weight loss featuring ORBERA™, the global market leader for intragastric balloons.

To help acquaint you with the program, here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

Gastrointestinal Associates is leading the way in gastroenterology care in the greater Knoxville area. Why enter the weight loss market? We’ve been caring for our patients’ digestive health since 1971 and have seen firsthand the health consequences of carrying too much weight: coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones and an increased risk of colon and other cancers, just to name a few.

This program is a way to enhance our care, address obesity-related health problems and help prevent those illnesses before they arise. Our patients’ overall health is our primary concern, and we believe offering this program is the right thing to do.

An inflated and uninflated ORBERA™ balloon.

An inflated and uninflated ORBERA™ balloon.

What made you choose the ORBERA system? ORBERA™ is the global market leader for gastric balloons and the only balloon to be recognized by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) for having demonstrated its ability to safely and effectively manage obesity. ORBERA™ has a more than 20-year history of helping people lose weight and currently is being used in 80 countries.

After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use in the United States, we quickly got on board with the program.

How does ORBERA™ work? For patients with a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 40, treatment will start with an individualized diet and exercise program, along with placement of the balloon. The balloon is placed in a patient’s stomach using an endoscope (a nonsurgical procedure requiring only a mild sedative).

Once in place, the balloon is filled with sterile saline to make it the size of a grapefruit, filling the stomach and reinforcing dietary portion control. At the same time, the patient works with a support team of experts – physician, registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and, when needed, psychologist and – to learn healthy habits.

After the balloon’s removal, patients continue working with the health care team to help ensure long-term results.

Does placement of the balloon require surgery? No. The balloon is placed in the stomach via endoscopy, a nonsurgical procedure taking 30 minutes or less and requiring only a mild sedative.

Does the balloon stay in place forever? No. After six months, the balloon is removed. Thereafter, patients continue working with the health care team for an additional six months or an additional 18 months to help ensure long-term results.

I am only mildly obese. Is this program an option for me? Yes. Geared toward patients with mild to moderate obesity, the ORBERA™ balloon is suitable for men and women who are carrying about 30 to 40 pounds of excess weight.

My BMI is higher than 40. Do you offer something for me? Yes. For individuals with a BMI higher than 40, treatment will start with an individualized weight loss plan, possibly including a breakthrough weight loss pill to help them reach a BMI of 40 or below. Once the BMI drops below 40, the ORBERA™ balloon can be inserted with the intent to accelerate additional weight loss.

How quickly should I expect to lose weight? Most weight is lost in the first three months, but because the gastric balloon stays in place for six months, patients learn the right amount of food to eat to maintain their new weight.

Is ORBERA more effective than diet and exercise? After six months with the ORBERA™ two-part program, people lost an average of 3.1 times the weight patients lost with diet and exercise alone.

Why should I choose GIA 180? Because the ORBERA™ balloon is placed endoscopically, we are uniquely qualified to treat patients using the ORBERA™ system. Gastrointestinal Associates became the country’s first licensed and Medicare-certified endoscopic ambulatory surgery center in 1986. The ORBERA procedures are only conducted in an accredited and licensed ambulatory surgery center. Our board certified physicians are very experienced, performing thousands of endoscopic procedures each year.

The people of this community know and trust GIA. Now, they can trust us to help them lose weight, change their lifestyle direction and change their lives.

Which physicians perform the procedure? Currently, Dr. Charles O’Connor and I are trained to perform the procedure. We are accepting patients for enrollment in the program.

How do I enroll? Sign up on our website or contact us at 865-622-3442.

Losing weight takes focus, determination and a lot of hard work. For some people, it takes more than that. If you have struggled to lose weight and keep it off and are serious about making a permanent change, we can help. Contact us today to change your direction, change your life.