“It’s easy, it’s simple, and it works.”
Balloon endoscopic treatment for weight loss with Hillarey Rendleman

By Anna Gomberg

Before she had kids, Hillarey Rendleman, Chicago Public Schools teacher and counselor, never had a problem with maintaining a healthy weight for her athletic, size six frame. However, after she gained 60 pounds during each of her pregnancies and lost only about half her pregnancy weight, Hillarey found it challenging to get the scale to budge further.

“After my second baby, I weighed about 220 lbs. or so, and wasn’t losing it. I kept trying… I worked out at a gym, tried different diets, but nothing was working,” explains Hillarey.

Hillarey and her husband also wanted to have a third child, and for the first time, had trouble conceiving. After months without success, they turned to IVF (invitro fertilization). Despite four cycles of treatment, Hillarey still didn’t get pregnant.

Her doctor said the cause of her infertility was likely her weight, which made sense to Hillarey. “I noticed that my cycles, while they used to be totally regular, 28 days, were now like, 35 days, 40 days.. totally out of whack,” she explained. “And my egg quality during the retrievals was only so-so. My husband and I did not know what to do.”

Hillarey sought a consultation with Christopher Chapman, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of Bariatric and Metabolic Endoscopy at the University of Chicago Digestive Diseases Center. Dr. Chapman explained that her weight gain and the related inflammation, were likely influencing her ability to conceive. Dr. Chapman recommended that Hillarey join a 32-week clinical trial of a balloon endoscopic treatment to help her achieve significant weight loss.

Hillarey signed up for the clinical trial, completed the prescreening and trial selection process, and scheduled to receive the balloon just three days later. For the procedure, Dr. Chapman used an endoscope to insert a small balloon into Hillarey’s stomach, which was then inflated with saline. She experienced some minor side effects (a day of nausea and discomfort) but then, almost immediately, started losing weight. She went from 223 pounds to around 185 pounds in just seven months, with most of the weight coming off during the first three months.

“It sort of snowballed,” explained Hillarey. “As I started to lose weight, I felt like I could exercise better. I had more stamina, more energy, and I started making better choices about food. The balloon came out in June of 2018, and when I went back to my doctors, my internist, and my OB-GYN, they were so impressed. Prior to the procedure, at my highest weight, my lab work was not good—I had fatty liver disease, and pre-diabetes, insulin resistance, and now everything was back to normal.”

And perhaps the best news— right away, Hillarey and her husband were able to conceive again. Their third child, Gemma, was born on May 6, 2019, and is now 20 months old. They gave her the middle name Christine, in honor of doctor Chris Chapman.

Looking back, Hillarey is highly enthusiastic about the procedure, saying, “I felt good. You’re just not eating that much; you’re not that hungry. There’s that snowball effect, too. Once I started losing weight, I started eating better, I started exercising—it was so much easier to be motivated to not have that dessert, or that extra glass of wine. It was easy, it was simple and it works. I would recommend it to anybody.”