The stomach balloon, which is more formally called a gastric balloon or endoscopic intragastric balloon, is a medical device used to aid in weight loss. It is less invasive than many other types of bariatric surgery. Depending on the type of balloon used, patients can lose between 26 and 46 percent of their excess weight. However, these results do vary from one patient to the next, and only your doctor can give you an idea of what to expect from the procedure.
To learn more about the stomach balloon and how it could assist with weight loss, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Naim.
What are they used for?
Stomach balloons are often used to prepare a patient for more aggressive weight loss procedures, like gastric bypass surgery. Losing weight before such surgery reduces the risk of complications. Gastric balloons can also be used to “jump start” more conventional weight loss programs. Most gastric balloons can only be used for around six months, so they cannot be used as a long-term treatment. They work simply by taking up space in the patient’s stomach and thus preventing them from overeating.
What does the procedure involve?
The surgeon will start by numbing the patient’s throat with a spray. They may also give the patient an injection to make them unaware during the procedure. The nurse will place a plastic mouth guard over the patient’s teeth to keep their mouth open during the procedure.
The doctor will insert the endoscope into the patient’s mouth and maneuver it down the patient’s esophagus to their stomach. The patient will still be able to breathe, and they won’t be in any pain. The doctor will use the endoscope to place the balloon in the patient’s stomach. The balloon has a filling tube attached to it that the doctor uses to inflate it with either air or saline. After inflating the balloon, the doctor removes both the filling tube and the endoscope. The procedure takes about 30 minutes.
Most patients can leave the hospital on the same day as the procedure. They should have somebody drive them home and look after them for at least 24 hours after surgery. Recovery takes about three days, and the patient should rest during that time. It will take time to adjust to having a balloon in one’s stomach.
When it’s time to remove the balloon, the surgeon will use an endoscopic camera to guide a catheter down the patient’s esophagus. They will puncture and deflate the balloon and then remove it.
What will the patient’s diet be like?
For the first week after the procedure, the patient will have to stick to a liquid diet. During the second week, they will start to eat soft foods. Afterwards, they will begin to eat solid foods.
Since the balloon will be taking up a lot of space in the patient’s stomach, they will have to eat smaller portions than they did before the procedure. The patient should follow the directions of their doctor and/or nutritionist regarding what they should and should not eat. Pasta, for example, can stick to the balloon, so the patient may be told to avoid pasta. Overeating can cause vomiting. To reduce the chances of vomiting, the patient should drink water after eating to wash food off of their balloon. Be sure to follow your doctor’s post-surgery instructions very carefully.
Types of Gastric Balloons
Even though the FDA approved two types for use in the United States only in 2015, gastric balloons are not a new technology. They have been used in other countries for over 20 years.
The Orbera Gastric Balloon is a single round balloon filled with saline that sits in the middle of the stomach. When fully inflated, it is around the size of a grapefruit, and its sides touch the stomach’s walls. Most of the weight loss occurs during the first three months. Patients can lose over 26 percent of their excess weight, but these results may vary.
The Reshape Duo-Double Balloon System consists of two round balloons that are also inflated with saline. The two balloons take up more space in the stomach than even the biggest single balloon could. They are also designed to sit in the stomach comfortably. In addition, if one balloon accidentally deflates prematurely, the other balloon will hold it in place. The balloons also contain a dye that turns the patient’s urine blue-green if a balloon deflates prematurely – a warning that it’s time to call the doctor.
Patients in Europe may also use the Spatz Adjustable Balloon System and the Obalon Gastric Balloon, which the FDA has not yet approved for use in the United States.
Your doctor can help you determine which method of surgical weight loss is best for you and your situation.
Who is a good candidate for a gastric balloon?
Gastric balloons are often used by people who want to jump start a weight loss program. They can, unlike most other bariatric treatments, be used by people with body mass index (BMI) as low as 27.
Since extreme obesity increases the risk of complications during surgery, such patients may use gastric balloons to get their weight down to a safer level. Patients with BMIs over 60 are considered to be especially poor surgical risks, as are patients who are both obese and have certain health conditions related to their obesity.
Most candidates for gastric balloons will have a BMI between 30 and 40. They will also be people who have not been able to lose the needed weight through more conventional means like diet and/or exercise. Gastric balloons can also be used by patients who do not want to undergo the more extreme types of bariatric procedures.
To learn more about the stomach balloon, as well as our other weight loss options, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have about this and other choices for surgical weight loss.