Gastric Balloon

Intragastric balloon placement is a weight-loss procedure that involves placing a saline-filled silicone balloon in your stomach. This helps you lose weight by limiting how much you can eat and making you feel fuller faster.
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What is a Gastric Balloon Procedure?

The intragastric balloon procedure may be an option if you have concerns about your weight, and diet and exercise haven’t worked for you.

Like other weight-loss procedures, an intragastric balloon requires commitment to a healthier lifestyle. You need to make permanent healthy changes to your diet and get regular exercise to help ensure the long-term success of the procedure.

What are the risks of gastric balloon surgery?

Pain and nausea affect about one-third of people soon after insertion of an intragastric balloon. However, these symptoms usually only last for a few days after balloon placement. These symptoms can usually be managed with oral medications at home.

Although rare, serious side effects may occur after intragastric balloon placement. Call your doctor immediately if nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain occur any time after surgery.

A potential risk includes balloon deflation. If the balloon deflates, there’s also a risk that it could move through your digestive system. This can cause a blockage that may require an additional procedure or surgery to remove the device.

Other possible risks include overinflation, acute pancreatitis, ulcers or a hole (perforation) in the stomach wall, which might require surgery to fix.
An intragastric balloon can make you feel more full faster than you normally would when eating, which often means you’ll eat less and it may be that the balloon seems to change levels of hormones that control appetite.
The amount of weight you lose also depends on how much you can change your lifestyle habits including diet and exercise. Based on a summary of currently available treatments, loss of about 7% to 15% of body weight is typical during the six months after intragastric balloon placement. Total excess weight loss ranges from 30% to 47%.

As with other procedures and surgeries that lead to significant weight loss, the intragastric balloon may help improve or resolve conditions often related to being overweight, including:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis (joint pain)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)

When weight-loss procedures don’t work

It’s possible to not lose significant weight or to regain weight after any type of weight-loss procedure or surgery, even if the procedure itself works correctly. This weight gain can happen if you don’t follow the recommended lifestyle changes. Permanent healthy changes in your diet, along with regular physical activity and exercise, are necessary to avoid regaining weight.

Immediately after the balloon is placed, you’ll feel some discomfort, which may last a few days to a couple of weeks. Some discomfort is normal, but be sure to report anything that feels abnormal or painful to your bariatric surgeon.

During the first week after the procedure, most patients are not hungry. Some patients do experience nausea that gets worse with food intake. Weight loss can be significant during the first week. Men may lose 8 to 15 pounds during their first week. Women typically lose about 4 to 8 pounds during the first week.

Your appetite may slowly start to return during week 2. However, you should feel full after a minimal amount of food.

  • During weeks 3 to 6, you’ll notice your appetite continues to get stronger, and your ability to tolerate more food will increase. You should continue to eat slowly, track what you eat, and pay attention to signs of discomfort. Hiccups, acid reflux, and nausea indicate you ate too much or too quickly.
  • During weeks 7 to 12, you should continue to lose weight, typically at a slower rate compared to the first 6. Use this time to maximize your weight loss by focusing on healthy, nutrient dense foods. Implement a sustainable exercise routine. The routine should be something that can be maintained for the rest of your life. If you can’t go to the gym 3 to 5 days a week, then look for alternatives. Can you jog? Can you walk every morning?
  • During weeks 12 to 26, you should focus on maintaining your weight loss. It is essential to learn how to maintain your weight loss by focusing on a healthy diet and a sustainable exercise program. A quality program will give you access to their dietitian for up to a year after the balloon is placed. Take advantage of these programs.