There are some gastric balloons available in the market today. The one thing that most of them have in common is that they are filled with salt water and can remain in the stomach between 6 to 12 months. There are two FDA approved intragastric balloons:
- The Orbera gastric balloon
- The ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon
Other types of gastric balloons are the Spatz Adjustable Gastric balloon and the Medsil balloons, which are also filled with saline water where the Spatz balloon can be left in the stomach for up to 1 months while the Medsil balloon can be in the stomach for a maximum of 6 months until they can empty themselves out.
Gastric balloon is quickly gaining popularity as a non-surgical option to create a feeling of fullness and aid steady weight loss as opposed to other Bariatric procedures that require long surgical and hospital time as well as lengthy recuperation periods to heal the scar tissue. The overall goal of all weight loss surgical procedures is to reduce hunger, boost satiety, limit your caloric intake and nutrient absorption and allow you to exercise portion control as you gradually lose weight.
The gastric balloon method does all the above, the only difference and advantage are it is a minimally invasive procedure that is completed with a mild sedative for as little as 20 minutes. It is also a temporary procedure, and because it doesn’t alter the functions of the digestive systems, your body still benefits from all the vitamins, mineral, and nutrients you get from food.
Gastric Balloon Procedures
During the Orbera gastric balloon procedure, a Bariatric surgeon inserts a deflated medical-grade silicon balloon down your esophagus into your stomach using a flexible gastroscope with a camera on its end. Once the silicon balloon has reached the stomach, the surgeon proceeds to fill it with the appropriate amount of sterile saline or salt water so as it partially fills the stomach to give a feeling of fullness.
The ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon system does the same thing; the only difference is once the deflated dual-shaped balloon is placed endoscopically during a 20-minute procedure, both balloons are filled with a saline solution that contains a small amount of blue dye. The dual balloon is designed with an anti-migration safety feature such that in the event of balloon deflation, the second balloon keeps the whole device in place and prevents it from passing into the intestines.
There gastric balloon pill capsule is a relatively new technique that requires no sedation where a patient can swallow up to three capsules that are attached to a thin tube. Each capsule is then inflated by using gas through the tube and remain in the stomach over a period of 12 weeks; then removed endoscopically.
What to expect before and after gastric balloon procedure
As is with every other weight loss procedure, the gastric balloon is only but a weight loss tool that without a proper diet and exercise routine, the expected weight loss won’t be noticeable or successful. Gastric balloons are safe and effective at reducing appetite and improving feelings of satiety after eating, especially for overweight individuals who want to get a head start on shedding a couple of pounds before a significant life-changing Bariatric procedure.
While the expected weight loss is specific to each gastric balloon device, however, the average amount of weight loss to be expected is between 15-20kgs for a 100kg individual. To see if you qualify for this non-surgical, and effective procedure, you need to consult your doctor first for a pre-screen of your health history. Otherwise, some of the general guidelines are:
- You must not be pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to conceive after a balloon implantation
- Your BMI should be between 27 and 35, with or without associated obesity-related illnesses such as back pain, diabetes, sleep apnea, knee and joint problems
- You must not have any gastrointestinal issues such as bowel obstruction, including the presence of ulcers, abnormalities with the GI tract or severe esophageal injuries and inflammation. Severe liver damage such as cirrhosis can also serve as a contraindication to having a balloon placed including patients who are using blood thinning medications
- You must show that you have tried dieting or exercising without success
- You must be willing to enter a medically supervised program, which includes attending ongoing consultations with your doctors, psychologist, and dietician
- You must show that you are willing to adopt a healthy lifestyle and maintain your weight even after the removal of the balloon
- Most insurance carriers do not cover this weight loss method because it is mainly considered an elective cosmetic procedure. Therefore, you must be prepared to pay for it out of pocket
Diet and exercise
Most patients can eat regular healthy foods after the balloon is implanted, however, because severe nausea is a common occurrence during the first few days after the procedure, you will be on a liquid diet to help with the queasiness. Once your body gets used to the balloon, you can gradually transition to pureed foods, then soft foods, and then finally you can advance to eating and adhering to the recommended diet of normal but healthy foods.
Most patients hardly experience any complications. However, it is not uncommon for some to build up a gastric balloon intolerance, which in essence may lead to the early removal of the capsule(s). Gastric discomfort, nausea, and vomiting are common within the first few days following balloon placement but can be remedied with anti-nausea medication. While rare, perforation, migration or deflation of the balloon can occur, especially in individuals who have had previous Bariatric procedures such as a gastric band.
Compromised gastric balloons must be removed as soon as possible. Some patients also develop stomach ulcers from the balloon irritating the stomach’s lining. However, this can also be alleviated with proton pump inhibitors to minimize the build-up of stomach acids. Is gastric balloon placement the procedure for you?