We’re a world first for balloon technology that gets patients fit for surgery


We’re a world first for balloon technology that gets patients fit for surgery

Patients in Somerset who are struggling to get fit enough for weight loss surgery and meet certain criteria can now get the vital support they need thanks to a revolutionary world-first gastric balloon procedure.

The Allurion Gastric Balloon is the world’s first and only procedure of this kind that doesn’t require surgery, endoscopy or anaesthesia.*

We're the first NHS trust in the country and the first non-private sector organisation in the world to introduce this innovative procedure. The exciting partnership builds on our status as a centre for excellence in bariatric surgery, an accolade it has held for the last 15 years.

The procedure takes about 15 minutes in total, with the non-invasive approach meaning patients can be in and out of hospital within the hour, rather than needing a long appointment, additional surgery or overnight stay.

Before the procedure begins, patients are given a tablet and patch behind their ear to settle their stomach. Then they swallow the balloon capsule, which inflates and remains in their stomach for about four months, after which it self-empties and passes out naturally.

It’s now being offered to patients under the care of our bariatric surgery team who aren’t clinically fit enough for surgery.

This procedure is being offered to support the sickest patients to help them get fit for bariatric surgery – these are patients with BMIs in the 50-60 ranges with severe, complicated obesity, meaning they have conditions related to their weight which can be made better by weight loss, such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea, joint problems, gastro-esophageal reflux, liver disease which all lead to poor quality of life.

The first two patients have already lost about two stone in the first two months since the balloon was placed in their stomach.

A further three patients are due to have the balloon placed in February this year, and up to a dozen others also scheduled to have this life changing procedure throughout 2024. Any patient offered the procedure will go through a series of detailed health checks that ensures they are clinically appropriate for the procedure.

The swallowable balloon is just part of the Allurion Program experience. During the time the balloon is in the stomach, it provides a sense of fullness and satiety whilst the patient undertakes a wellness journey using Allurion’s proprietary behaviour change program that helps ensure the weight stays off, even when the balloon has gone.

This wellness journey includes the use of an innovative suite of AI-powered software - so that the patients’ wellbeing and progress is monitored by our team of specialist nurses who track their weight loss, steps, exercise and other activity.

Interventions are made as necessary to ensure optimum results, as well as one-to-one support from doctors and nutritionists to help patients modify their lifestyle and change their behaviour.

The nurses can, for example, message patients through the app if they need extra motivation, or intervene if they aren’t on track to be able to have surgery.

Once the balloon passes out after approximately four months, the specialist nurses and consultant will assess whether the patient still needs or is now ready for bariatric surgery.

The Allurion Program is proven to help patients lose an average of around 10-15% of their body weight after approximately four months1, with studies showing that 96% of that weight loss can be sustained one year after the balloon passes2.

Professor Richard Welbourn, our consultant bariatric surgeon who’s leading on the procedure for Somerset FT, said: “We’re very pleased to be able to offer this new treatment, in a first for the NHS, that offers clinically meaningful weight loss as part of a holistic programme involving dietary support and care prior to surgery.

“People with severe obesity are prone to diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, which can be reversed with weight loss so this will have a major effect on their life.

“The Allurion Balloon is a 15-minute outpatient procedure, and is swallowed, so there’s no need for an endoscopy, hospital bed, theatre time or anaesthetic, which is better for the NHS and a much-improved experience for our patients.

“Patients lose on average 10-15% of their weight after approximately four months1, which improves quality of life and makes patients healthier.

“This exciting new partnership between Allurion and Somerset FT provides great hope for those patients who struggle to lose weight prior to surgery, but don’t like the idea of taking a course of drugs, or experiencing unpleasant side effects and weekly injections.”

Over 30 peer-reviewed studies have been conducted worldwide to confirm that the Allurion Balloon is a safe and effective way to lose weight3. It has shown to be particularly effective in patients with a higher body mass index (BMI).

Dr Shantanu Gaur, founder and CEO of Allurion says, "We are thrilled to be partnering with the NHS for the first time to deliver the Allurion Program.

“According to the NHS, it is estimated that around one in four (25%) of adults in the UK have obesity4, and without scalable, evidence-based weight solutions, the obesity epidemic will continue to worsen.

“Leveraging the Allurion Balloon—which can be swallowed in a simple outpatient visit and does not require any procedures for removal—the NHS now has a weight loss solution that does not tap into surgical or endoscopic resources that are already overbooked and constrained.

“We are looking forward to expanding this partnership and benefiting many more NHS patients in the months and years to come.”