An intragastric balloon is a less invasive option for patients not ready for surgery. It’s a procedure that can be completed in under 30 minutes and does not require general anesthesia.
In most cases, your physician will insert the balloon through an endoscope. It will be done while you are under light sedation.
How Does the Balloon Work?
A soft silicone balloon is placed non-surgically inside the stomach to fill it and reduce hunger partially. It allows you to control your portion sizes and eat a healthier diet. The balloon is usually removed after six months. The procedure takes less than 30 minutes.
In this minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure, we insert an intragastric balloon made of soft, durable silicone into the stomach, where it resides for about six months. The balloon takes up space in the stomach, making you feel complete with smaller food portions. It also slows food movement from your mouth to the intestines, making it easier to keep from overheating and leading to long-term weight loss.
During the procedure, a doctor00 will place an endoscope into your mouth and carefully examine your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine to ensure nothing that would prevent you from safely having a gastric balloon (such as a large hiatal hernia or ulcer). The doctor then advances a thin tube with a deflated balloon attached to it through the mouth and esophagus into the stomach. The balloon is inserted into the stomach and then filled with saline through the catheter until it is the size of a grapefruit.
The balloon is made of a safe, well-tolerated material with a self-sealing valve that can be removed anytime. The risk of complications is shallow. In rare cases, the balloon can rupture, which may cause a gastrointestinal problem that can only be corrected by performing another endoscopy.
How much weight loss can you anticipate?
Patients lose about 10% of their body weight or 30% of their excess weight in the first six months. It’s a safe and quick procedure to help kick-start long-term lifestyle changes. However, after removing the balloon, you can regain some lost weight by returning to your old eating habits and lifestyle.
A gastroenterologist or endoscopic surgeon will use a thin tube with a camera (an endoscope) to insert the balloon into your stomach. The procedure takes about a half-hour. You may experience a little pain or nausea. Your doctor will give you anti-sickness medication and recommend moving around to reduce discomfort.
After the insertion, you’ll be on a liquid diet for about a week. Your doctor will then let you eat small portions of soft foods. Chewing and eating four or five small meals each day is essential. Avoid eating fatty and rich foods that can cause belching and heartburn.
After a few months, you should be able to tolerate most foods. Your appetite will likely plateau at about three months, so stay motivated and keep your new eating habits strong. Some programs provide dietitians and other support groups to help you stay on track.
How Long Will the Balloon Stay in Your Stomach?
During the initial two weeks after balloon placement, you will follow a liquid diet (protein shakes, tea/coffee) and then move on to soft foods such as bananas and cooked rice. After this, you can eat most foods but chew well and consume small portions. The most important thing to remember is to drink plenty of water after every meal. It is also essential to avoid foods with high-fat content and spicy and acidic food.
You will experience some nausea and pain after the procedure, but these should go away as your stomach gets used to the presence of the balloon. However, some people will experience a more severe side effect of vomiting or colic, requiring medication to control it. If you experience either of these symptoms, you must contact your doctor immediately and be prepared to go to the hospital for the removal of the balloon.
While the balloon is in place, you will work with your support team and therapist to make permanent lifestyle changes around diet and exercise, encouraging long-term weight loss. It is when you will see the best results. It is not uncommon for patients to lose 20-35 pounds over six months while the balloon remains in the stomach and also improves weight-related health problems such as blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
How Will You Maintain Your Weight Loss?
Using a gastric balloon as a weight loss assistance requires dietary changes and behavioral adjustments. In clinical trials, patients with the ORBERA® Balloon lost three times more weight than those that followed a standard diet and behavior program alone.
During an outpatient procedure, your doctor advances a thin tube (endoscope) loaded with the balloon down your throat and into your stomach. The endoscope has a lighted camera to allow your doctor to see the balloon as it’s being inserted and then inflated with saline. The process usually takes about a half-hour, and you can go home one to two hours afterward.
Most people experience discomfort, nausea, or pain in the first few days following their balloon procedure. Over-the-counter pain medication typically helps to relieve these symptoms. Initially, you will follow a clear liquid diet while your body adjusts to the presence of the balloon in your stomach. Once your stomach becomes accustomed to the extra space, you’ll transition to a soft diet, such as protein shakes and mashed potatoes.
Be sure to drink plenty of water or low-calorie fluids between meals and wait 20-30 minutes before eating. Avoid sugary beverages, alcoholic drinks, and processed foods, as these can cause your stomach to swell. If you notice foul odors while eating, you might have something stuck in or around your balloon and should seek medical attention.