The United States FDA has just approved the gastric balloon procedure – a breakthrough alternative to weight loss surgery that combines an intragastric procedure and behavior modification program to help overweight patients maintain long-term weight loss. The gastric balloon procedure is an ideal option for patients for who do not qualify for bariatric weight loss surgeries or cosmetic weight loss procedures.
Intragastric Balloon Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find a doctor to perform the procedure?
The gastric balloon procedure requires special certification and training. My Bariatric Solutions is one of the first facilities with doctors currently certified to perform this procedure.
What is the gastric balloon procedure?
The gastric balloon procedure is a new alternative for weight loss surgery. The device used is a small silicone balloon that is inflated to reduce the amount of food your stomach can hold at any time. This intragastric procedure is temporary and does not result in any permanent surgical alteration to your digestive tract.
How does it work?
The temporary intragastric device (the gastric balloon) is inserted into the stomach to create a “feeling of fullness” and enables you to consciously limit the amount of food you eat. By eating less, you can see weight loss results sooner. That jumpstart in weight loss can provide the time and motivation necessary to develop a healthy lifestyle regimen that is maintained after the balloon is removed.
What is the timeline for this weight loss procedure?
The balloon insertion takes only approximately 45 minutes and remains in the stomach for six months. However, your commitment to a full year (12 months) of follow-ups and lifestyle changes is crucial to achieve long-term weight loss success.
How is the gastric balloon inserted?
This is an endoscopic procedure performed by certified bariatric surgeons. The doctor easily inserts a flexible tube through your mouth and down your esophagus to create a direct pathway to the stomach. The deflated gastric balloon is then inserted through the tube and into your stomach. Once in place, the doctor inflates the balloon with a sterile saline solution, injecting that solution into the balloon through a small filling tube. Once the balloon is filled, the doctor gently removes the flexible tube by simply pulling it out. The filled balloon remains in your stomach.
This out-patient, non-invasive procedure typically takes less than 45 minutes. Afterward, you will be monitored for initial reactions to the device. Patients are typically discharged within two hours of receiving the gastric balloon procedure.
What does it feel like?
Because the device is not a natural part of your body, you may experience initial discomfort much like the gastric pressure felt from overeating. The gastric balloon is made of soft silicone and adjusts to the shape of your stomach, preventing any feelings of being “poked” or “pinched”. Your body adjusts quickly and you will begin to recognize that “feeling of being full” during mealtimes.
Much like the scratchy feeling associated with the common cold, you may experience minor throat irritation from the endoscopic tube used to insert the balloon. Throat lozenges from the pharmacy will likely help alleviate this discomfort, but be sure to ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter remedies.
How is it removed?
Just as it was inserted, the intragastric balloon is removed by inserting a flexible tube through your mouth and down your esophagus, into your stomach. Your doctor will deflate the balloon, grasp it with a small tool inserted through the tube, and pull it out of your stomach.
Will I know if the balloon “pops” on its own?
Yes. The balloon is inflated with a sterile saline solution containing a special dye. If the balloon leaks or pops, this dye will pass safely through and out of your body, noticeably changing your urine to a bright green color. Notify your doctor immediately to have the balloon removed.
What are the risks and side effects?
There are minimal risks associated with the gastric balloon procedure. You will likely experience nausea or vomiting for the first few days after the balloon is inserted, and the severity of these potential effects differs for each patient. The presence of the balloon could cause the effects to persist during the first few days, though you may ask your doctor to prescribe medication to help minimize them.
How soon will I begin to lose weight?
The gastric balloon reduces the amount of space in your stomach immediately, which means you will begin eating less just as soon as it is inserted. However, there is the possibility that you will not meet your weight loss goals with this procedure. The device is only one component of the larger lifestyle changes to which you must commit in order to succeed in your long-term weight management.
How do I keep those pounds off?
The effectiveness and amount of weight loss depends on your dedication to follow ups, exercise and better eating habits. Monthly follow ups with YOUR Support Team will be expected during the initial six months while the balloon is in place. We also strongly encourage scheduled follow ups during the second 6 months after the balloon has been removed. This will help you evaluate your progress while receiving the motivation and support needed to maintain your weight loss. These meetings will cover the principles of health, nutrition and exercise, providing you with the tools to build a long-term, healthy lifestyle regime that works for you. Remember, we want YOU to SUCCEED! Our surgeons, Dr. Arsalla, and Dr. Smith have created a plan to ensure YOUR SUCCESS!
What foods are off-limits?
This procedure is part of a lifestyle change, not a diet, and therefore has no food or alcohol restrictions. However, you will not feel comfortable eating the same quantity of food as you are you used to, and eating fatty or processed, sugary foods may cause you to feel unwell. Excessive overeating while the balloon is in place can prove dangerous.
Is the gastric balloon procedure right for me?
If you have between 25 and 50 pounds of weight to lose, and your BMI is 27 or more, you could be an ideal candidate for this intragastric procedure. The gastric balloon procedure is designed to aide the weight management of people who are not suitable for other forms of bariatric weight loss surgery. You could also consider this procedure to assist in reducing your weight prior to other surgery, in order to reduce the health risks associated with surgical procedures on, and recovery for, overweight patients.