CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A device is being tested in Charlotte that some doctors say could be a life changer when it comes to treating obesity.
Charlotte was the first city in the country to test it and the first patient to ever try it in the United States was a mother and a wife from Clover, S.C.
Barbie McMackin and her family are trying to eat healthier. When it comes to diets, she's tried fancy programs and even the quick fix.
"Weight Watchers, LA Weight Loss, which worked. I lost 75 pounds with that. But as soon as I quit doing that, the weight came back on. I ordered pills. I went to the drugstore to get pills. I've tried everything," said McMackin.
When she noticed her energy dropping, she considered weight loss surgery.
"I was tired all the time. The kids were younger and I wanted to keep up with them," she said.
Instead of surgery, McMackin agreed to be part of a weight loss trial. She lost 20 pounds in just three months with a groundbreaking procedure being tested at Carolinas Weight Management Center. It's called the EndoBarrier.
"This is a very exciting trial to be a part of," said Dr. Keith Gersin, who is leading the Charlotte trial.
The EndoBarrier is collapsed into a capsule and administered through an endoscope. All the patient needs is general anesthesia for the procedure.
"This is not an operation and is a less invasive option for patients," said Gersin.
The plastic actually lines the intestine and prevents the absorption of some food. Doctors tested the device at first to see if it could help people lose weight before gastric bypass or lap band surgery. They found that the EndoBarrier helped weight loss, and it helped remarkably with patients' diabetes.
"I think this could be a life changer, particularly for diabetics who are maximally managed with medications. This is a viable option to treat diabetes. It's not often a device can be used to treat something for diabetes," said Gersin.
It's also a way to treat obesity without surgery.
"It's a less invasive procedure. People won't be afraid and go, 'I don't want to have that surgery. I don't want to be cut. I don't want to be put to sleep.' I think it would be fantastic for those folks who are afraid to go under the knife," said McMackin.
She saw it as a jumpstart and since her trial she's kept most of the weight off, only gaining three pounds back in months.
"Seventeen pounds is a great accomplishment, especially when you couldn't lose one," she said.
Doctors are still testing the EndoBarrier. It is not a cosmetic device -- it's meant to help patients who are morbidly obese.
The product may be doing the trick in patients but it still has a long way to go. Gersin doesn't expect it to hit the market for at least another five years.