If you and a doctor don’t feel that surgery is right for you, many other options exist for weight loss.

For people with obesity who want to lose weight, there are a variety of surgical and nonsurgical procedures that can help people experience significant weight loss.

But weight loss surgery isn’t for everyone — and for some people, nonsurgical weight loss procedures are a better option. From balloon systems to endoscopic surgeries, there are several weight loss procedures for people with obesity who don’t want to undergo surgical procedures.

Ahead, we’ll explore some of those nonsurgical weight loss procedures, as well as cover more information about newer procedures and different weight loss approaches.

When it comes to losing weight, a weight loss of 1–2 pounds per week is usually recommended for most people. But there may be some situations in which a person with obesity needs to lose weight at a more rapid pace, such as to prepare for weight loss surgery.

Extreme weight loss without surgery can be safe and effective when done under the supervision of medical professionals. But extreme weight loss that happens outside of the recommendation and supervision of a doctor or healthcare professional is generally not considered safe for most people.

If you’re planning to lose weight through dietary or lifestyle changes, it’s always best to discuss your plans with a doctor so that you can get the support you need to lose weight safely.

Nonsurgical weight loss procedures can help people with obesity lose a significant amount of weight. Unlike surgical weight loss procedures, nonsurgical procedures can be performed without needing to cut open your body, which can significantly reduce your risk of complications and the length of your recovery.

Several approaches exist for people looking for weight loss procedures without surgery. Here are some of the most common.

Intragastric balloon

Intragastric balloons are balloon-like devices that are inserted into your stomach and expanded with liquid or air to reduce the available space inside your stomach. There are two primary types of intragastric balloons on the market:

  • Liquid-filled: Once liquid-filled intragastric balloons are inserted into your stomach, they can be expanded with liquid. Orbera, which was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015, is the most commonly used liquid-filled intragastric balloon.
  • Air-filled: Air-filled intragastric balloons are inserted into your stomach and then expanded with air instead of liquid. Obalon, which was approved by the FDA in 2016, a year after Orbera, is the most common air-filled intragastric balloon.

Intragastric balloons are typically inserted through your esophagus in a noninvasive, nonsurgical procedure called an endoscopy.


AspireAssist is another nonsurgical weight loss device that was first approved by the FDA in 2016 to help assist with weight loss in people with obesity. With this device, a tube running from the inside of your stomach to the outside of your stomach allows you to drain a portion of your stomach’s contents after a meal. This reduces your calorie intake by roughly 30%.

Like many other nonsurgical weight loss procedures, AspireAssist is inserted directly into your stomach with the help of an endoscope.

Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty

Sleeve gastroplasty is an alternative to gastric sleeve surgery, in which the surgeon places sutures along the inside of your stomach to decrease the size of your stomach. A similar procedure, called gastric plication, also involves a similar approach in which your stomach is folded in on itself and stitched together to decrease your stomach size.

Both procedures can be performed endoscopically and don’t involve any actual cutting of your stomach like in traditional bariatric procedures.

What are the safest nonsurgical weight loss procedures?

Many of the nonsurgical weight loss procedures mentioned above are much newer, with most device approval only happening within the last decade or so. Because of this, there are very few long-term studies available on the safety of these nonsurgical weight loss procedures, and overall research is limited.

But there are risks and benefits to every weight loss procedure, whether surgical, nonsurgical, or otherwise. If you’ve decided to undergo any weight loss procedure, it’s likely because you and a doctor have decided that the procedure is safe for you and that the benefits will outweigh the risks.

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All three nonsurgical procedures mentioned above — intragastric balloons, AspireAssist, and sleeve gastrectomy — are relatively new weight loss options for people who have obesity. While the research on these approaches is limited, here’s what we do know about how effective they can be for long-term weight loss.

In one small study from 2017, researchers investigated the effectiveness of the intragastric balloon Orbera for weight loss in 35 study participants. Results of the study found that almost 55% of participants experienced at least a 10% reduction in their baseline weight after the surgery. In addition, 34% of those participants maintained their weight loss 6–12 months after the procedure.

Another study from 2016 explored the effectiveness of the AspireAssist with lifestyle counseling for weight loss in people with obesity. According to the study results, when used alongside lifestyle counseling, AspireAssist was effective at reducing at least 25% of baseline weight in more than 58% of study participants.

In a recent study from 2022, researchers studied the effectiveness of endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty for weight management in 91 people with obesity. Results of the multicenter study showed that the procedure was able to produce significant weight loss in study participants both after surgery and at 6 months.

Fad diets and your health

Diet culture is everywhere in modern society. You only have to look as far as the popularity of fad diets to see that.

On one hand, diets like the paleo diet or keto diet can produce the weight loss results that people are looking for. On the other hand, they can also cause harmful effects like overrestriction, nutritional deficiencies, and even disordered eating.

If you’re interested in losing weight by making dietary changes, consider reaching out to a doctor or nutritionist for guidance. Not only can they help you find the best and safest approach for you and your needs, but they can also offer long-term support that will help you experience gradual, sustainable weight loss.

Check out this article to learn more.

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Surgical weight loss can be an effective approach for people with obesity who want to experience clinically significant weight loss. But not everyone with obesity will qualify for weight loss surgeries or want to undergo them.

In these cases, several weight loss procedures without surgery are available to help people with obesity lose weight safely and effectively.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits and risks of nonsurgical weight loss procedures, consider reaching out to a doctor to discuss more about the options that are available to you.