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 marketed to provide weight loss when diet and exercise have failed and surgery is not wanted or not recommended.It is not a plastic surgery like liposuction
What is Gastric Balloon?
The gastric balloon is a new type of weight loss procedure .
In this procedure a silicone balloon that is filled with salt is placed inside the stomach area, which helps to lose weight by limiting the amount of food that can be eaten , and it also makes the person feel full faster.
Like other weight loss procedures, gastric balloon requires a healthy lifestyle. The person needs to make permanent healthy diet and make regular exercise to insure long-term success of the gastric balloon procedure.
Who is the good candidate for this procedure?
like any other weight-loss procedures , there are some of conditions that must be met by those who wish to undergo gastric balloon procedure , which including:
- Having a body mass index (BMI) which is in the range of 30 to 40.
- Willing to commit to a specific healthy lifestyle, regular medical follow-up, and some behavioral therapy.
- Who has not undergone any previous stomach or esophageal surgery.
Note: The gastric balloon is not the right choice for all overweight patients, the doctor will first examine the patient to see if the procedure is suitable for him.
How gastric balloon procedure is performed ?
The gastric balloon is performed in the endoscopy unit in outpatient clinic, in which the patient will be sedated during the procedure.
Firstly, the doctor inserts a thin tube (catheter) through the throat and all the way down to the stomach.
Secondly, the doctor inserts an endoscopy (A flexible tube with a camera attached to it) down to the throat and then into the stomach. The attached small camera allows the doctor to see the balloon as it gets filled up with saline.
The procedure takes about half an hour, fortunately patients can go home after several hours follwoing the procedure.
After the procedure:
- Patients can start having small amounts of fluids six hours after the procedure.
- The liquid diet generally continues until the beginning of the second week, at which time, the patients can start eating soft foods.
- Patients may be able to start eating regularly three weeks after the balloon is inserted through the stomach.
- The balloon is left inside the stomach for up to 6 months, and then it is removed using an endoscope.
- Patients will also have frequent medical check-ups such as a dietitian and psychologist, after the procedure.
Unfortunately Pain and nausea affect around 1/3 of patients shortly after a balloon is inserted into the stomach. But These symptoms usually last for a few days after balloon placement, and can be treated with oral medications.
Fortunately, serious risks are ofen rare after placing and removing the ballon, but still possible.
Which may include:
- The balloon may deflate.
- If the balloon gets emptied, there is a risk that it will get into the digestive system and this may cause a blockage in the gastric which requires further action.
Other potential risks include:
- A stomach hole that may require a surgery to be repaired.
The balloon can make the patient feels full faster, which means that the patient will eat less.
The reason may be that the gastric balloon inside the stomach minimize the time it takes to empty the stomach. Another reason may be that the balloon appears to alter the levels of hormones that control appetite.
And ofcourse, Weight loss depends on the ability of the patient to change his lifestyle habits.
What so great is that during the next six months after gastric balloon insertion, A loss of 10 to 15 percent of the patient loss is expected.
The gastric balloon may help improve or resolve some issues often associated with gaining weight like:
- Heart disease or heart stroke.
- high blood pressure.
- Severe sleep apnea.
- Diabetes (Type 2).
But even if the procedure itself is working properly, It is possible not to lose weight or regain weight after any type of weight loss procedure or surgery including the gastric balloon procedure it self . This can happen if the patient did not follow the recommended changes in his lifestyle.
So, in order to avoid regaining weight, permanent healthy changes need to be done with a diet, in addtion to some physical activities and exercise