Gastric Balloon weight loss procedure is a non-surgical method to lose weight. In medical terms, it is also known as an endoscopic intragastric balloon. In this method, a silicone balloon (filled with saline) is placed inside the stomach.
This balloon occupies some space inside the stomach. Hence, it limits the food you eat, making you feel full quicker. As a result, the calories you ingest decrease and you lose weight as days go by.
However, this is a temporary procedure. In most cases, patients lose about 20 – 50 pounds, over a time period of about 6 months. After this time period, the doctors usually remove the balloon.
It is best to try this procedure only if conventional methods like dieting and exercising haven’t work. However, the success of this method depends on your adherence to a healthier lifestyle.
For long-term success, you have to stick to a healthy diet and regular exercises, following this procedure.
Eligibility for Gastric Balloon Procedure
For a patient to undergo this procedure, he has to comply with the following conditions:
1.) Have tried conventional diets and exercises previously
2.) The body mass index (BMI) should be about 30-40 kg/m2
3.) Willingness to participate in behavioral therapy and medically-supervised healthy lifestyle
As a matter of fact, the gastric balloon procedure may not suit all. The medical teams have to perform screening tests to find whether the procedure can benefit you. In fact, you are outright ineligible if you have the following problems:
1.) Underwent bariatric surgeries before
2.) Allergic to some materials used in this procedure
3.) Drug or alcoholic addictions
4.) If you are a pregnant or breastfeeding women
5.) Having inflammatory diseases of Gastrointestinal tract, hiatal hernia (large), vulnerable to upper gastrointestinal bleeding, structural abnormalities in esophagus or pharynx.
Be aware, the program may cost anywhere around 6,000 USD – 9,000 USD. Currently, most insurance companies may not cover this cost. Hence, you may have to pay from your pocket.
Gastric Balloon Types
As of now, FDA has approved two types of gastric balloons. They are obalon balloons and orbera balloons. In most cases, the surgeons are trained in either of the procedures. Not both. Hence, be informed on what type of balloon is used in your procedure.
Obalon Gastric Balloons
FDA has approved this product recently. It differs from other balloons in two ways.
1.) You have to swallow the balloon pill with a glass of water
2.) After that, the balloon inside the stomach is inflated with gas.
In this procedure, 3 balloons are used. The first balloon is inserted during the first month. Similarly, second and third balloons are inserted during consecutive months.
Typically, the gas-filled balloons have lesser risks of acute pancreatitis than the saline-filled balloons. This is the main advantage of these balloons.
Orbera Gastric Balloons
In fact, this method has been the longest around in the medical field. Following the success, more than 220,000 Orbera Gastric balloons have been distributed worldwide. Orbera also provides tool kits, supporting patients.
1.) After the procedure, Orbera provides 12 months of coaching to change the lifestyle of the patients.
2.) It provides an app to guide the patients. The app also contains healthy, delicious recipes along with other guidelines.
3.) They offer dietitian appointments in group sessions. In some cases, they offer one-to-one sessions also with diet experts.
How Does the Gastric Balloon Work?
The gastric balloon works in two different ways
1.) Typically, the balloon reduces the space available for food inside your stomach.
On average, the stomach’s volume is around 1.5 L. The balloon takes up about 40 – 45 % of this space. So, you can eat only about 55 – 60 % of your regular food in one sitting, physically.
2.) Most significantly, the balloon restricts or limits the food passage. As a result, the food and water pass slowly, giving you a full’ feel early. This also helps the food to stay longer inside your stomach.
Typically, these methods help you to eat less and lose weight.
How Much Weight Can I Expect to Lose?
Typically, you can expect to lose about 20-50 pounds of weight. The depth of success totally depends on your adherence to the regimen. In fact, you should practice the prescribed diet and exercise even after the balloon is taken out. This is important for long-term success.
During FDA Trails, the patients lost about 10% of their body weight on average. However, many other programs report, their patients had lost about 15 – 20% of their body weight on average.
Gastric Balloon Weight Loss Procedure
Preparing for the Procedure
Before the procedure, you may have to take various medical tests. The medical team will inform you about the specific instructions to follow.
Generally, the medical teams advise not to eat anything prior to 12 hours of the procedure. You may also have to stop drinking any liquids, including water before 6 hours of the procedure.
After the balloon inflation, most patients tend to be nauseous. Hence, following these instructions closely becomes crucial.
During the Procedure
Typically, the gastric balloon procedure is performed endoscopically as an outpatient/ambulatory surgery. Depending on the balloon type, the patient is given a light anesthetic or mild sedative.
The medical expert advances gastric balloon into the stomach through the throat using a catheter (thin tube). Then, he advances the endoscope into the stomach, in the same way.
After that, he fills the balloon with saline. The endoscopic camera provides the inside stomach’ visuals to the doctors performing the procedure. Finally, he detaches the balloon inside the stomach and takes out all other inserted tubes.
Usually, the procedure completes within 15 – 20 minutes. Following the procedure, the patients can return home after a couple of hours or so.
The experts may prescribe anti-nausea and acid-reflux medicines. These medicines help to ease the nauseous and other discomforts, pertaining to the procedure.
After the Procedure
After 6 hours, you can start with liquid foods for about a week. Then you can start to eat soft foods from the second week onwards. Generally, the patients can resume their regular foods after 3 weeks from the procedure.
Your medical team may ask you to visit frequently after this procedure. This is essential to monitor your body condition.
Living with the Gastric Balloon
After placing the gastric balloon, you may feel some sort of discomfort. This state may continue for a few days or weeks. However, if you feel pain or abnormality, report it to the bariatric surgeon without delay.
1.) Typically, most patients do not feel hunger for about a week. Solid foods can intensify nausea during this time. So, start with liquid foods. You will notice significant weight loss.
On average, men lose about 8 – 15 pounds during the first week. Women lose about 4 – 8 pounds at the same time.
2.) From the 2nd week onwards, you may slowly start eating soft foods. They provide essential energy for your body to normalize.
3.) From the 3rd week onwards, you can slowly start eating your regular foods. You can also increase consumption gradually. In any case, eat slowly, track the consumption and report the discomforts.
4.) From the 7th week onwards, the rate of losing weight decreases as you tend to eat more. To counter this, consume nutrient-rich, healthy foods.
During this time, the medical experts may ask you to start with simple exercises. You should try to work the exercises consistently for a lifetime.
5.) Around 12 weeks, the weight loss plateaus in most patients. Hence, learn to maximize losing weight through diets and exercises. Most programs help you with dietitian sessions, support groups, and other medical resources for an annum after the surgery.
Removal of Gastric Balloon
Normally, the surgeons remove the gastric balloon after six months. They keep the patients under sedation or give light anesthesia to keep them calm. After that, they remove the balloon endoscopically.
The medical team passes a grasper to the stomach via the throat. Then, they deflate, grab and remove the balloon from the stomach.
After some time, the surgeons plan with you to place a new balloon if required. You can return home after a few hours safely.
Quite frankly, you have lost the weight loss tool. However, you’ve learned to practice a healthy lifestyle. Implement the learning lifelong for a better future. It also helps to prevent diseases related to obesity. For your guidance, we have mentioned a few healthy lifestyle tips below:
1.) Always chew thoroughly and slowly before swallowing. In simple terms, it just means eat slowly.
2.) Schedule the meals as suggested by your programs. In general, most programs suggest you eating 3 times a day. They also allow you to have a healthy snack like carrots or apples in between.
Some programs opt for 5 – 6 small meals for the entire day. In any case, make sure to stick to the schedule.
3.) Always consume nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. You can also include non-vegetarian diets, as suggested by your programs. However, avoid overeating in all cases.
4.) Always avoid junk foods including fast foods.
5.) Perform workouts at least 4 -5 days a week. If you do not want to spend time in gyms, you can also try simple exercises like jogging, walking, etc. In any case, maintain consistency to succeed for a long time.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Like other weight-loss surgeries, gastric balloon procedures also have both advantages and disadvantages. You have to consider them before undergoing the procedure.
This is a non-surgical procedure done using endoscopic techniques. Hence, complicated risky surgeries are not required.
The balloon is easy to place and the procedure takes less time.
When you follow the health tips, this method is successful in the long term also.
In the initial days, Acid reflux and Nausea are common. Hence, you may suffer sleeplessness.
In fact, the balloon is taken out after 6 months. So, if you do not follow the health tips provided, you may gain weight again.
Although rare, the risk of Acute pancreatitis exists, especially when the balloon is overfilled with saline.