A new FDA-approved medical procedure is gaining popularity in Northeast Wisconsin. It gives overweight patients a non-surgical option to help them lose weight.
Brenda Allen is one of the first patients to ever use the method in our state.
"I had struggles with weight all my life," said Allen.
Brenda Allen weighs 224 pounds. It's the heaviest she's ever been.
"I just got bigger and bigger. I'm just tired of being big," said Allen.
Allen says she has a poor relationship with food, "It's the snacking between meals and the ice cream and the candy."
She also struggles with exercise.
"I'm starting to have joint pain. It's not good because my hips don't like the weight," said Allen.
It's a dangerous combination of bad habits leaving Brenda feeling helpless and desperate.
Now a new procedure could be the answer to her problems.
Newly FDA-approved ORBERA is a non-surgical gastric balloon procedure for weight loss.
The only place it's available in Wisconsin is through Midwest Bariatric Solutions at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah.
"It's another tool in our menu of treatments for this devastating disease," said Dr. Ray Georgen, the co-director of Midwest Bariatric Solutions with ThedaCare.
The patient is sedated and a latex balloon is inserted using an endoscope into the stomach.
"It makes people feel full and if you eat too much you don't feel well," said Dr. Georgen.
"It gives me six months to get my eating under control and learn how to eat properly. Doing it on my own isn't working," said Allen.
It's a great option for those who don't fit the BMI criteria of a traditional gastric bypass surgery or who are looking for a less invasive option.
"I look at this as a great procedure for people who are beginning to evolve into a bigger problem," said Dr. Georgen.
On February 16th, Brenda headed into her 20 minute procedure where she returned home that same day.
Brenda says she's looking forward to being thinner and being able to run on the beach without running out of breath.
This procedure is not a cure all. Step two involves visiting with experts to develop sustainable healthy habits.
"It'll be a new life. It'll be a new way of life and a change. I think it's going to give me the help that I need," said Allen.
It's going to be a long road ahead, with the ultimate goal being a healthier life.
A week after Brenda's surgery, she said everything is going well. The first week she was limited to liquids until her stomach adjusts to the balloon. After that, it's about easing into a routine of healthy eating and exercise.
We will continue to follow Brenda on her weight loss journey. Use #BrendasJourney to search for any updates or ask any questions.
For more information on ORBERA, visit the ThedaCare website.