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Gastric Balloon

Among the different Bariatric procedures that exist for aiding weight loss in patients the gastric balloon procedure has its own unique benefits to offer. It is an endoscopic and intra-gastric procedure whereby a balloon, one or three are inflated and inserted in the stomach which reduces the space for food. The balloons are of silicon make and are inserted in the stomach for a period of six months. This helps to create certain effects such as helping patients feel full sooner, which reduces their need for larger amounts of food. Patients are able to lose weight, which is about 30% of the excess body weight. After a period of six months the balloons are removed and patients can get back to normal self.

The procedure is reversible the side effects or complications that arise are less. Health improvement is seen in terms of weight loss as well as reducing the severity of other health conditions such as ailments of the heart, joint or bone diseases as well as diabetes and other health issues.

Details about the procedure

If you are keen to know how the procedure is executed, a deflated balloon is inserted down the mouth and through the esophagus. The balloon is then expanded when it reaches the stomach; this causes the patient to feel full sooner. They can eat limited quantities and this helps them lose weight. In certain cases there are two or three balloons inserted which depends on the type. Patients feel full sooner and they consume less amount of food. The type of balloons inserted is of three categories, ReShape, Orbera, Obalon and Spatz.

What to expect when undergoing this procedure?

The procedure is a minimally invasive surgery that takes even less time than the laparoscopic surgeries like gastric sleeve or gastric bypass. Patients can expect to be discharged the same day when they undergo the operation.

Steps of the operation are as follows:

  • The throat is numbed so that it can tolerate the instruments that are used to put in the balloon down the throat and esophagus.
  • A mouth guard is placed between the teeth to make the mouth remain open.
  • A scope is passed down the mouth into the stomach. One can breathe without worrying.
  • Scope is then removed.
  • The balloon is then inflated, either with air or with saline solution.
  • Scope is again passed into the stomach to check that the balloons are in the right position after inflation.
There is not much difference in the way the different types of balloons are inserted. The Obalon balloon is given to the patients to be swallowed in the form of a pill. The pills are swallowed over a 3 month interval, one pill every month. In the case of the Obalon balloon procedure the scope is used for removing the balloons.

Effects of the procedure

It has been seen that, those who undergo such a procedure can see weight loss up to one third their excess body weight in a time period of six months. The weight loss is sustainable and within the first three months one can shed about 15% of their excess weight which can go up to 30% by six months. The balloons are removed from the system after six months. Hence, those who opt for this procedure will have to make changes in their lifestyle and diet accordingly after the balloons are taken out of their system.

In certain cases, for those who are morbidly obese, undergoing more involved procedures like gastric sleeve could put more stress on the system. For such reasons physicians or surgeons might suggest that such patients undergo the gastric balloon procedure after which they can go for gastric sleeve that will be a longer term procedure that can help give people a more permanent solution for sustained weight loss. As obese patients need to have stricter monitoring of their diet for a longer time period, gastric balloon can be considered the first stage for a more involved procedure. Again, for those whose body mass index is not that high, they can opt for this minimally invasive procedure and get the boost they need to bring their excess body weight down in a time span of six months.

Usually obesity brings on other health complications. It puts stress on the heart, on bones and joints as well as can aggravate conditions like blood pressure and diabetes. With weight loss attained through gastric balloon procedure, patients can see marked improvement in such health conditions as well.

Other information about gastric balloon procedure

Usually the age and physical condition of the patient is taken into consideration before physicians or surgeons recommend this surgery. At our Estonia clinic you can undergo such a procedure at competitive costs. Those who have a body mass index of 30 and higher usually qualify for this procedure. The age limit is a minimum of 18 years of age or 27 years and more which varies from one country to another. You can visit our website and use our online body mass index calculator to determine whether you would be eligible for such a procedure.

This procedure costs lesser than the other laparoscopic surgeries such as gastric sleeve or gastric bypass. However, it is a new procedure whose costs are often not covered by insurance companies. However to make the cost option convenient, there are several loans and tax deduction schemes available. Hence those who are interested in this procedure can get the right coverage for their costs as well as undergo a procedure that will surely help them in weight loss and move towards better health.

Comparing the different balloon procedures

One option is to go for Orbera where a single balloon is placed in the stomach and it is filled with methylene and saline blue dye. It is a method that is approved by FDA for US, and certified for use in the European Union, United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia, Canada and other countries.

When surgeons opt for the Reshape balloon procedure, here dual balloons are placed. These are filled with similar solution and have approval for use in most countries. Spatz is a single inflatable balloon which is pending approval in some countries due to which it is not a popular option. Obalon is also a procedure whereby a single inflatable balloon is placed in the stomach pouch. This procedure offers a distinct advantage whereby the endoscopic procedure is not required since the pouch is inserted through pill form.

Pre op requirements

Those who are assessed as per their obesity and are recommended the gastric balloon procedure are prepared for the procedure in the following way:

  • Health assessment is done whereby the physician seeks information about medical history, medications that one undertakes.
  • The patient is made to undergo certain tests for their blood, x ray and ECG to check heart condition.
  • They are instructed to undergo fasting for about 24 hours before surgery and about 12 hours before surgery they can neither drink nor eat.

Post operative effects

The procedure usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes. As the throat area is made numb during the procedure, one will feel soreness in this area after the procedure. It is an outpatient procedure and they can leave the hospital the same day. Usually patients who undergo this procedure are able to get back to work in a time span of three days.

Diet and lifestyle changes

Those who undergo this procedure are put on a diet of 14 days to help them transition to a normal life. Usually the digestive system remains the same, but certain food items such as starchy items could stick to the balloon and cause nausea or vomiting sensations. Hence, it is important to sip water after consuming such food items to rinse them off the balloon. Patients are asked to be on fluids in the first day after which they need to stick to a liquid diet and then gradually transition to a pureed food diet. They are advised to exercise for a total of 2.5 hours in a week, which should be spread out across 4 days.

The diet and lifestyle changes that are recommended help one to face fewer complications with their digestive system, especially when the balloon is in their stomach. The dietary changes will lead to reduced energy levels, but that can come back to normal after a few weeks. It is recommended that the changes in meal amount and exercise regime are stuck to even after the balloon is removed from the system.

One needs to consult their physician during the six month period to get checkups regularly and in case one experiences nausea and vomiting tendencies, they can get relief from such symptoms. As it is a reversible procedure one can gain relief of getting back to a normal life after the balloon is removed. However the diet and lifestyle changes should be stuck to which will help them keep up the weight loss efforts. This will also help people see more results in better health conditions overall and gain ways to live a fuller life.

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