An Interview with Dr. Jeff Brooks, the CEO and Inventor of the Spatz Balloon
Q: What brought you to invent this new intragastric balloon, when we know that balloons have existed for over twenty years?
A: I’m the sort of person that fixes things, improves them. I identified the shortcomings of the standard intragastric balloons and set out to fix them.
Q: So how is the Spatz3 different? How does it address these shortcomings you mentioned?
A: We saw that balloons were in the stomach for a maximum of six months, which is not enough time to change eating habits, which is our main goal at Spatz. Secondly, between 10% to 20% of patients are intolerant to balloons. Third and most important, we could clearly see in studies that balloons lose their effect after 3 to 4 months.
Q: How does Spatz3 address these shortcomings you mentioned?
A: I wanted to develop a balloon that is more robust, higher quality and that could remain in a patient’s stomach for an extended period.
Second, I wanted to make an adjustable balloon whose size and volume can be optimized to the patient’s needs. So for those 10% to 20% of unfortunate patients that need to have the balloon removed because of intolerance, I wanted to be able to save them from early extractions by making the balloon smaller if needed. For those that needed more weight loss, we designed the balloon so that it could also be increased in size.
Q: How is Spatz3 capable of changing people’s attitude towards food?
A: I have had the privilege of managing over a thousand patients with balloons and trained hundreds of doctors from all over the world. This led us to the understanding that losing weight is just not enough, Thinking like a person with a healthy lifestyle is a good start for attitude change. We need to think positively and to takes steps away from our previous habits. The balloon gives not only the time, but the tools to help ignite those positive thoughts towards change of eating habits. Our approach is, “Eat, but register it”. We call that approach “Owning it”.
Q: And how does the balloon help to “own food”?
A: The balloon will remind people about their eating habits. The goal is to register the signals in the brain, and count it! If you count it, you own it.
The idea is to be aware of your nutritional status, just like you know your financial status.
Q: What could make a balloon treatment unsuccessful?
A: Patient attitude is key. They have to understand what balloons do.
The balloon doesn’t stop people from eating. It takes up space and makes the food stay around longer in the stomach, and keeps reminding you how you ate over the previous week – something we generally want to ignore.
The objective is to connect the brain with the stomach. That creates awareness that perhaps wasn’t there before.
Q: What’s the typical profile of a patient that would succeed with a balloon treatment?
A: Patients that repeatedly fail diet and exercise plans. Patients with BMI over 27 are eligible for an intragastric balloons treatment. Some countries like US require candidates over 30 BMI.
There are patients that are better candidates for bariatric surgery. Their BMI is typically well over 40. In my personal experience it requires significant motivation for those individuals to change their eating habits.
Thank you for your time Dr. Brooks.