A gastric balloon is a non-surgical, short term weight loss option that creates a feeling of fullness quicker after smaller meals. It reduces your hunger allowing you to control your portion sizes and can be used as a stepping stone on the path to weight loss success. By using dietary advice you can learn healthy eating habits and change your lifestyle so that you can lose weight quickly and keep the pounds off long-term.
A gastric balloon, also known as stomach balloon, is an inflatable medical device that is temporarily placed into the stomach to reduce weight. It is provide weight loss when diet and exercise have failed and surgery is not wanted or not recommended.
What is involved in a gastric balloon procedure?
A gastric balloon is a soft silicon balloon that is inserted into your stomach. The balloon partially fills the stomach which leads to a feeling of fullness.
Whilst deflated the gastric balloon is inserted into your stomach through your mouth and oesophagus. This is done using a thin, flexible tube that has a light and a camera on one end, called an endoscope. You will be given a mild sedative or a “light” anaesthetic for this procedure. The procedure may be uncomfortable, but is generally painless. It takes only 15 minutes and you will go home the same day.
Normally after six months your gastric balloon is deflated and removed as there is an increased risk of balloon deterioration and perforation after this point. On average people lose between 20 and 30% of their excess weight (excess weight being any weight over a BMI of 25). However, the amount of weight lost by each patient will vary depending on individual circumstances.
The balloon limits the amount of food the stomach can hold and creates thereby an early feeling of fullness and satiety. Less intake of food will result in weight loss. After up to six months (or up to twelve months with some newer devices), the device is removed using endoscopy again. Longer stay of a balloon is not advised because of the danger of damage to the tissue wall and degradation of the balloon. The use of the balloon is complemented with counseling and nutritional support or advice.
Endoscopic placement of the balloon is temporary and reversible without surgical incisions. The intra gastric balloon for weight loss differs from the Sengstaken-Blakemore balloon used to stop esophageal and gastric bleeding.
The device is intended to be used in patients with a body mass index of more than 27 kg/m2. Or between 30 and 40 kg/m and have weight-related co-morbidity. It should not be applied to patients with certain intestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel disease or delayed gastric emptying, who are pregnant, or who are taking daily aspirin medication.
Gastric balloons are generally considered to be safe and effective in the short run. There can be procedure-related side effects due to endoscopy and anesthesia. On a rare occasion the endoscopic placement of a balloon can lead to death.
Initial side effects of the balloon are common and may consist of nausea, vomiting, reflux and stomach cramps. Other effects could be indigestion, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea. Rare side effects include esophagitis, gastric ulcer formation or gastric perforation. The device can become deflated and slip into the lower intestines. Migration of a balloon can lead to bowel obstruction, a surgical emergency.