-By Matt Grech
Roslyn Heights doctor first in state to offer procedure
A Roslyn Heights doctor has become the first New York medical professional to offer a new FDA approved weight-loss program, the ReShape belly balloon.
Dr. Shawn Garber, founder of the New York Bariatric Group, has begun offering the new program to fill in the gap for those that don’t classify for more intense surgical procedures.
“There was a whole class of patients with medical problems that had no procedures,” Garber said. “This balloon fills that whole beach right there.”
The New York Bariatric Group has six offices around the New York metropolitan area including a practice at 125 Mineola Ave.
The New York Bariatric Group’s Gastric Balloon program features a brand new device, the ReShape balloon system, and a year-long regimented diet and exercise program to help patients lose weight.
“This is different because its a huge jump start,” Garber said. “Patients get to see the results quickly, and with our program we make sure they maintain the habits to stay healthy.”
Garber said the program can help patients lose anywhere from 25 to 75 pounds within the first six months.
The device was approved by the FDA in July, and Garber said it differs from previously available systems.
The ReShape system consists of two attached silicone balloons, filled with a sterile saline solution and rests inside the patients stomach.
The patient is sedated, and the balloons are inserted through the patient’s mouth into the stomach, guided by a tiny camera and steady hands into their proper location. The balloons are then filled with the saline solution, and the patient is awake and out of the office within 30 minutes.
“The two balloons hold 450cc of liquid each, a total of 900cc versus the single balloon, so the ReShape will fill up more of the stomach,” Garber said.
The balloons rest in the patient’s stomach, filling the space and allowing them to eat less and still feel satisfied and full.
“For patients that struggled with diets, now we give them a way to be comfortable and be happy eating those small amounts,” Garber said.
In addition to the device, Garber said, he has set up a year-long program — the first sixth months with the balloon, and the second sixth months after the balloon is removed.
“After six months the balloon has to come out. It was only designed to be in six months,” he said. “Then we continue to see them for another six months to reinforce all those good habits they learned.”
Garber sees patients for monthly nutritional and progress visits, and offers a website portal to monitor progress, diet and exercise routines. He even offers a video call program online for patients.
“It’s a special software that I actually developed, I have patients from California and Florida, and I can’t offer those nutritional visits in person so its great for them,” Garber said. “Even local patients love it because we can do after hour nutritional consultations.”
Garber added that a lot of surgeons want to begin the procedure, but do not offer a full-year program.
“The balloon is one part of it. It’s very important that we have that full team so we can offer the nutrition information and the aftercare,” he said.
The double balloons also allows for a built in safety mechanism, Garber said.
“If one balloon pops, the other is there to stop it from advancing into the small intestine and creating a blockage,” Garber said. “The blue dye causes the patient to urinate green so we know to take the device out.”
Before introducing it to his practice, Garber said, he had the opportunity to travel to Brazil and train with a leading medical professional already familiar with the procedure and ReShape system.
“I actually went to Brazil prior to FDA approval and trained with one of the leaders,” he said. “I actually put balloons in and took them out prior to that FDA approval.”
Garber said he’s excited to continue offering the program, and has seen a positive response.
“Patients have been ecstatic,” he said. “With the balloon there are no restrictions. I saw a lot of patients coming to us for surgery that weren’t candidates, so I saw it was a great opportunity to offer something to the patients around here.”
Jon Libasci, the New York Bariatric group practice administrator, said the practice is an all-encompassing location for patients.
“We have all services in house,” he said. “Patients might be here for three hours, but they’ll get done 90 percent of everything they need.”