The gastric balloon is becoming a popular weight loss alternative to ‘going under the knife’.
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.
1. What is a gastric balloon?
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.
2. What is involved in a gastric balloon procedure?
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.
3. New techniques
The gastric balloon pill capsule is a new type of gastric balloon. You swallow a capsule that is attached to a thin tube. When it is in position at the top of your stomach, the balloon is inflated using gas through the tube. The tube is then removed. No sedation is required. Up to 3 balloons can be placed in your stomach to continue to facilitate weight loss over the 12 week treatment. At the end of this period, the balloons are removed in a short endoscopic procedure¹.
4. Is a gastric balloon the right option for me?
A gastric balloon is recommended for patients who need to lose weight before an operation to reduce their surgical risk, or it can be used as a stand-alone, non-surgical treatment option for weight management. Weight loss with a gastric balloon can be less and slower than the surgical weight loss options. It is a useful way to lose weight if you don’t meet the criteria for the surgical weight loss procedures². Balloon may be used if you have a BMI between 27 and 35.
5. Am I eligible for a gastric balloon?
Gastric balloon is a popular weight loss option if you cannot lose a large amount of weight and keep it off by dieting, changing your behaviour and exercising alone; or if you have serious health problems caused by obesity.
Your bariatric surgeon will discuss with you the best option of weight loss and if you are eligible for gastric balloon insertion. They will look at your body mass index (BMI) and any health conditions you suffer from that are caused by your weight such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea, joint pain and depression. You will need to be committed to eating less, making healthy food choices and making appropriate lifestyle changes as recommended by your consultant.
6. The benefits
One major benefit of the gastric balloon is the avoidance of invasive surgery and the risks associated with surgery. As it only takes 15 minutes under a mild sedative you can go home the same day. This in turn means that a gastric balloon is less expensive than many surgical options. It is only temporary, offering support whilst you start to lose weight and become more active.
Patients with gastric balloons typically experience around 20 and 30% weight loss. However, the amount of weight lost by each patient will vary depending on individual circumstances.
7. What are the risks?
Most people don’t experience any complications at all but you should be aware of the risks. Bleeding or perforation can occur as a result of injury during the balloon insertion or removal. Gastric discomfort, nausea and vomiting are common for the first few days following balloon placement but rarely continue in the longer term. You may get a sense of heaviness in the abdomen, abdominal and/or back pain, gastro-oesophageal reflux (where stomach acid leaks out of the stomach) or indigestion. Although rare, leakage or deflation of the balloon could occur.
A full list of risks will be explained to you by your consultant who is undertaking the procedure.
8. Getting prepared for your gastric balloon
Before you have your gastric balloon inserted your consultant will discuss with you a post-procedure diet. You may also receive advice on an exercise programme that will help you lose the weight.
You mustn’t eat anything for 12 hours or drink for 6 hours before the procedure.
9. Your commitment to weight loss
Once your gastric balloon is inserted you will need to follow a healthy eating plan and undertake any exercises recommended by your surgeon. This will ensure you achieve the best weight loss appropriate for you.
10. How is the gastric balloon removed?
Your gastric balloon is deflated before being removed. It is then pulled through the mouth using an endoscopic tube. You will need to be aware that when the gastric balloon is removed, your stomach will return to its normal size and shape.
11. Will I gain weight once the balloon is removed?
Because the balloon has no lasting effects on the stomach, it is important that you create and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Without the gastric balloon taking up space in your stomach, you will be able to eat larger portions immediately once the balloon has gone. The success of the procedure is dependent on whether the recipient can carry on the same habits after the balloon is removed³.
Here you can find our guide prices for gastric balloon surgery
Weight Loss Surgery Basics - 10 Things to Know Before the Procedure
Read more weight loss surgery blog poststo find answers to the most common questions including: pros and cons of gastric balloon and gastric sleeve, how to choose a weight loss surgeon, exercise after weight loss surgery etc.
Big “thank you” to Mr James Ramus MD, FRCS - Consultant General, Upper GI and Bariatric Surgeon at Berkshire Independent Hospital in Reading for reviewing this article.
Mr James Ramus is a Fellow of the Royal college of Surgeons of England,Association of Upper GI Surgeons, British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society, International Federation of Surgeons for Obesity and Metabolic Disorders.
Read more about Mr Ramus’s qualifications, background and clinical interests.
About Ramsay Health Care gastric balloon surgery
Ramsay Health Care is a leading provider of weight loss treatment in the UK. Our highly qualified and experienced bariatric surgeons will discuss with you the best weight loss options for your individual needs and if a gastric balloon is the right choice for you.
This content is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your Consultant Surgeon would give you.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss having a gastric balloon insertion in more detail.
Ramsay Health Care UK | 21/08/2014