Because of the increased popularity of gastric balloons, I’ve decided to prepare an informative guide so that you can make a better decision. This is the first chapter of my guide on gastric balloon. If you want to know about the nature of gastric balloon, how it helps you lose weight, how long it stays in your body, how much extra weight you will lose with them, and the types of gastric balloons in the market, this is the right article for you. In case you were interested in other aspects of intragastric balloons, such as their side effects, you can move on to the next chapters.
What Is Weight Loss Balloon?
A Non-Surgical Treatment for Obesity
Intragastric Balloon (also called a gastric balloon or stomach balloon) is an FDA-approved incision-free weight-loss procedure that involves inserting a temporary expandable balloon in your stomach through your mouth to stay there for up to 6 months. Gastric Balloon induces weight loss by restricting the amount of food you eat at a meal. Furthermore, as it slows down the passage of the consumed food and liquids to the stomach, it provides long-term satiety with smaller portions of food.
Gastric Balloon is a recommended obesity treatment if you have tried and failed to lose weight by diets and exercise and have a BMI between 30-35, and one or more of the obesity-related comorbidities. In some cases, patients may be eligible for this treatment with a BMI as low as 27. We do not recommend stomach balloons for morbidly obese (BMI > 40), and super-obese (BMI > 50) patients. The intragastric balloon has been widely applied since the 1990s particularly because it has proved to be an effective alternative for those who are not suitable for other types of bariatric surgeries or do not wish to go through non-reversible extensive obesity surgeries.
What Is Gastric Balloon?
The ‘balloon’ in the Intragastric Balloon System is a soft, deflated device made of latex-free silicon-based material. It is referred to as an ‘intragastric’ or ‘gastric’ balloon because it will remain in your stomach for a period of time after we pass the deflated material through your mouth, esophagus, commonly called the food pipe, into your stomach. Conventionally, the expandable balloon is inserted into your stomach by using an endoscope, a thin, flexible tubular instrument with a camera and light attached to it, which allows us to view inside your body. However, with technological advancements, there are swallowable intragastric pills that do not call for an endoscopic procedure for the insertion of the inflatable balloon.
Gastric Balloon Procedure
The Gastric Balloon inserted in a patient’s stomach works in two ways:
- Restricting the food intake by occupying space in the stomach
- Slowing down the digestion of the consumed food and liquids
After the empty balloon is placed in your stomach, we proceed to expand it by filling it with usually saline. I should note that I’ve said ‘usually’ because different types of intragastric balloon systems may show slight differences, such as the fact that Obalon is filled with a nitrogen-based gas. I’ll mention the different types of gastric balloons in the following sections.
Accordingly, a saline-filled intragastric balloon occupies a space in your stomach to restrict food intake. On average, the volumetric capacity of the stomach is 1.7L in adults, and a filled gastric balloon will take up 400ml to 700ml of it. As you see, the intragastric balloon is a restrictive procedure indicating that it facilitates weight loss by restricting the amount of food and making you feel full for a longer time without interfering with anything related to absorption which could potentially cause malnutrition problems.
When Was Intragastric Balloon Invented?
The discovery that the presence of an indigestible mass that reduces the capacity of the stomach, in fact, induces weight loss is not new. In 1938, Michael DeBakey remarked in his review that bezoars, a solid collection of partially digested or non-digested materials which may occur in the digestive tract led to weight loss in patients. The intragastric balloon experiments aiming to reduce the size of the stomach reservoir began in the early 1980s.
- Nieben and Harboe’s free-floating intragastric balloons in 1982.
- Percival’s “balloon diet” consisting of inflated mammary implants as intragastric balloons in 1984.
- The Garren-Edwards Bubble, which was the first FDA-approved device, in 1985.
The technological advancements in the intragastric balloon systems enabled the development of different types of stomach balloons by several brands in terms of the filling material, the lifespan, method of placement, and form of the material.
Gastric Balloon Qualifications
Gastric Balloon is a non-invasive treatment for obesity that does not require patients to undergo any surgery. Patients typically choose this approach to avoid extensive surgeries with higher risks of other serious complications. But still, you might wonder whether you have gastric balloon qualifications. Though the risks associated with stomach balloon are lesser in comparison to other obesity treatments, at our clinic, we thoroughly assess whether you are a good candidate, and discuss other options if you have a condition that prevents you from going through this treatment.
Self-Check: “Am I a Good Candidate for Gastric Balloon?”
|· You are an adult, over 18.|
|· You have tried exercise and diet previously yet failed to lose weight.|
|· You have a body mass index (BMI) between 30-40 and suffer from one or more obesity-related health issues.|
|· You did not have any bariatric surgery before.|
It is important to note that the life-long results of gastric balloon procedures heavily depend on your lifestyle choices. When discussing their eligibility with my patients, I always underline the fact that they need to make crucial changes in their diet and exercise habits to get rid of their excessive weight and adapt to a new life, otherwise unfortunately they are not good candidates who would yield successful results in long term.
Self-Check: If you have any of the conditions below, discuss the alternatives with your doctor.
|· If you do not intend to make long-term commitments to lose weight.|
|· If you have a large hiatal hernia|
|· If you have extreme acid reflux before the operation|
|· If you have alcohol or drug abuse|
|· If you are going through chronic steroid or immunosuppressive therapy|
|· If you are pregnant, or breastfeeding, or alternatively if you are planning to become pregnant.|
|· If you had bariatric surgery before.|
Patients who have had bariatric surgery, such as Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve Surgery, or Duodenal Switch are ideally not good candidates for gastric balloon operation due to the reduced size of their stomach.
Gastric Balloon Recovery Time
I find it important to remember that a gastric balloon is a foreign object placed in your stomach. Therefore, please note that is natural that you will feel uncomfortable for 3-5 days following the procedure, and may experience a few post-operation complications, which we will explain in detail in the next chapter.
This uncomfortable feeling usually passes within one week. In order to protect your stomach and reduce the side effects throughout the treatment, an acid-blocking medication is needed every day as anti-acid pills will help prevent ulcers or gastritis (both of which are among the possible side effects of the procedure, I must say).
Gastric Balloon Diet
After the intragastric balloon procedure, patients will consume only liquids for three days. After that, you may slowly progress to a semi-solid diet. Approximately within two weeks, many patients are able to consume solid foods again.
At this point, I find it crucially important to bear in mind that the gastric balloon procedure is not malabsorptive. Therefore, you will absorb the calories of the food you consume, and smart food choices will enable you to achieve better results. The data achieved from the previous patients show that the total excess weight loss in patients ranges from 30% to 47%. Many patients who have adapted healthier diet and exercise habits maintain this weight loss permanently.
Gastric Balloon Removal
The gastric balloons inserted are not supposed to stay in your stomach permanently. The majority of the intragastric balloons (ReShape, Orbera, Obalon, Medsil, and Medicone) remain in your stomach for 6 months. After the indicated period of time, we deflate the balloon and remove it endoscopically. You may be lightly sedated before the endoscopic procedure. However, Elipse gastric balloon does not require an endoscopic intervention to be removed, as it has a time-activated valve that shall open 16 weeks after the insertion and passes through your digestive tract without a problem, and is removed naturally by excretion.
- It is important to remember that you should not eat any solid food 24 hours before the removal procedure. Also, do not drink any liquid for 12 hours before the balloon is removed.
Gastric Balloon Results
I believe that it is critical to be informed about the risks associated and what kind of realistic results you can expect before any bariatric procedure. Similarly, you should keep in mind both risks and results may vary from patient to patient, with respect to their lifestyles.
Average Weight Loss with Gastric Balloon
Studies show that patients approximately lose about 10 kg to 25 kg with the currently available gastric balloon methods. This weight loss occurs gradually within the course of 6 months. So, you should not expect any rapid, unusual weight loss like other bariatric surgical operations.
Is Gastric Balloon Worth It?
Compared to other bariatric operations, there aren’t many risks associated with the intragastric balloon. However, this does not mean there are no risks associated with this procedure. After reading the next chapter, gastric balloon risks, you will have enough information to decide. But there’s one undeniable fact and that is if for any reason you can’t undergo any type of bariatric surgery, but you need a solution other than diet and exercise, gastric balloon is a safer, yet effective option.
After you take the anesthesia, first routine endoscopy is performed to evaluate the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. If the surgeon detects a lesion in the stomach, than the gastric balloon application is postponed.
If all is fine there in your stomach, than the deflated balloon wrapped in a special package covered with plenty of lubricating gel is advanced to the esophagus. After the gastric balloon is placed into the stomach, it is inflated with air or liquid according to the model of the balloon with the help of endoscopy and left free in the stomach.
Typical gastric balloon procedure generally takes about between 30 to 45 minutes and you are usually discharged from the hospital on the same day. Some patients may have nausea that may require the use of anti-nausea intravenously. In such cases, it is more appropriate to spend the night of the procedure in the hospital.
Advantages of Gastric Balloon in Turkey
Turkey is one of the top choices in the world for obesity, weight loss treatment, and bariatric surgery. Majority of the medical tourists visit Istanbul and Turkey for this treatment and surgery from the Middle East, Gulf and European countries.
The surgeons in Turkey are also one of the most popular and well-known ones in the world. You’ll also find world class clinics at very affordable prices.