A gastric balloon, also known as an intragastric balloon, is a short-term non-surgical weight loss tool. It is a soft silicon balloon that is temporarily inserted into your stomach to partially fill it so that you feel full quicker after small amounts of food.
It offers a weight loss solution to help patients to kick start their lifestyle. A gastric balloon works by taking up space in your stomach so that you feel full sooner and need to eat less. As you eat a smaller amount of food, you lose weight.
It won’t help if you eat soft foods, sweets or drink high calorie liquids. And must therefore be avoided. It allows you to get used to having smaller food portions and adopting a healthier lifestyle.
When the gastric balloon is removed you will, hopefully continue with your newly trained lifestyle and eating patterns.
You must be committed to a supervised gastric balloon diet and modified lifestyle both whilst the balloon is inserted and after it has been removed.
The benefits of a gastric balloon are that it offers a non-surgical reversible weight loss treatment option that may help you to develop long term new eating habits.
The weight loss can also improve any obesity-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes.
How is Gastric Balloon Surgery done?
The balloon is introduced into the stomach through the mouth without the need for surgery. The doctor inserts an endoscopic camera (gastroscope) into the stomach. If no abnormalities are observed, the balloon is placed through the mouth and down the oesophagus into the stomach. Once inside the stomach, it is then filled with a sterile saline solution, through a small filling tube attached to the balloon. Once filled, the doctor removes the tube by gently pulling on the external end, leaving the balloon inside the stomach.
This procedure is performed by a qualified specialist gastroenterologist.
Placement of the balloon takes approximately 20 minutes, after which patients are monitored by nursing staff in the recovery bay. As this is a “day-only” procedure, patients are generally discharged home within two hours after balloon insertion.
Who is it suitable for?
- The intragastric balloon is designed to assist with weight loss in people who ideally have 10 to 30 kilograms of weight to lose.
- The minimum BMI is for individuals with a BMI of 27 and greater.
- It is also used for people who are not suitable for other forms of weight loss surgery. The use of the Gastric Balloon may assist in reducing weight prior to surgery, therefore reducing the risks associated with surgical procedures on overweight patients.
How long does the Gastric Balloon stay in the stomach?
The Gastric Balloon can be placed in the stomach for 6-12 months (depending on the type of balloon used). Should your doctor recommend use of the balloon for longer periods, it is necessary that the balloon be replaced with a new one at the six or 12 month interval.
How will the balloon be removed?
The intragastric balloon is removed in the same way it was placed, via the oesophagus and mouth using an endoscopic camera. Your doctor introduces a catheter (tube) through the mouth and into the stomach, attaching it to the balloon for deflation. Once the balloon is deflated it can be grasped and removed through the oesophagus and mouth.
Are there any diet restrictions?
You will be provided with specific dietary advice from our expert team of dietitians. Around the time of insertion, adjustment or removal, your diet will be restricted, however outside of these periods, you are able to enjoy most foods without concern.
Some foods may cause symptoms, however. Spicy, rich or tough foods which don’t break down may cause symptoms as outlined above. Red meat and especially steak may cause indigestion. Fish and chicken are generally fine. Fibrous vegetables should be cooked until soft.
It is important for you to understand that the intragastric balloon is a tool to aid weight loss and are most effective when combined with a comprehensive lifestyle programme delivered by your doctor and trained dietitians. The amount of weight loss to be expected is specific to each device; but in general, most devices will achieve 15-20% TBWL (Total Body Weight Loss; ie a 100kg person would lose 15-20 kg on average*). Ultimately, the amount of weight you lose and maintain will depend on how closely you follow the advice of your doctor and our trained dietitians.