The intragastric balloon, also called the gastric balloon, is inserted in a relatively simple procedure that is performed non-surgically. The gastric balloon provides an alternative treatment for patients who would not otherwise consider surgery for treatment of obesity or for patients that want to prevent severe obesity. It is also a good option for patients who need to lose weight to reduce surgical risks before an operation.
To qualify for this procedure, patients must have a BMI between 30 and 40 and must not have had prior weight loss surgery. The gastric balloon is most suitable for those who need to lose about 30 percent of their excess body weight. It is also used to help patients lose weight before another more invasive bariatric procedure. Patients who have a gastric balloon placed must commit to a 12-month diet and exercise regimen to maintain their weight loss long term.
Before the procedure begins, the doctor performs a diagnostic endoscopy. This involves a small camera that is inserted through the mouth into the esophagus and stomach. This is done to ensure the anatomy is healthy and it is safe to perform the procedure. Then, the soft silicone deflated balloon is placed orally, either by endoscopy or by ingesting a pill. Once the balloon has been inflated with saline, it expands to about the size of a grapefruit. After two hours of recovery, most patients are discharged home.
Benefits of the Gastric Balloon
One of the greatest advantages to the gastric balloon procedure is that it does not require surgery. The balloon is simple and quick to place, and the procedure usually results in weight loss of 20-50 pounds. Patients who have the gastric balloon feel a reduced desire to eat. The procedure is temporary and completely reversible.
The balloon reduces the volume of the stomach by less than half. It remains in the stomach for six months. After removal, the patient continues their managed weight loss program for an additional six months. Typically, people with the gastric balloon lose three times more weight than those who use diet and exercise alone.