A gastric balloon, also known as an intragastric balloon (IGB) or a stomach balloon, is an inflatable medical device that is temporarily placed into the stomach to help reduce weight. It is designed to help provide weight loss when diet and exercise have failed and surgery is not wanted or not recommended for the patient.
Intragastric balloons are an alternative to bariatric surgery (or weight loss surgery), which is not generally offered to patients with a body mass index of less than 35. It helps induce weight loss by increasing satiety, delaying gastric emptying and reducing the amount of food eaten at each meal. Gastric balloons take up space in the stomach, which limits the amount of food that can be held. This creates an early feeling of fullness and satiety. A reduced intake of food then results in weight loss.
The placement of an intragastric balloon helps you lose weight. Weight loss can lower your risk of potentially serious weight-related health problems, such as:
Intragastric balloon placement and other weight-loss procedures or surgeries are typically done only after you’ve tried to lose weight by improving your diet and exercise habits.
Unlike other bariatric procedures, the gastric balloon’s concept is simple. During the procedure, a soft silicone balloon is delivered into the stomach with the endoscope’s help, making the procedure incision-less. An endoscope is a long, thin, and flexible tube with a camera and light on the end of it. It allows the doctor to navigate through the mouth and down the throat to the stomach. Once the balloon is safely placed to the stomach, it is filled with saline (saltwater). As the filled balloon is too big to move onto other parts of the digestive system, it floats in the stomach freely.
As a result of the procedure, the balloon gives the patient a sense of a half-full stomach, which prevents overeating and reduces the amount of food the patient can or wants to eat. That’s why it’s essential to stick to a healthy diet and regular exercise to get the maximum results.
As mentioned before, balloons are a short-term solution, meaning that they will be removed after 6 or 12 months endoscopically. Also, the gastric balloon is entirely reversible, and it doesn’t change the anatomy of the stomach, making it a very safe procedure.
An intragastric balloon may be an option for you if:
Intragastric balloons aren’t the right choice for everyone who is overweight. A screening process will help your doctor see if the procedure might be beneficial for you.
As typically with gastric operations, the first few days and weeks of diet after the gastric balloon procedure is solely based on liquids, purees, and other soft foods. The transition from liquids to more solid food goes slowly step-by-step as it is necessary to get your body comfortable with the balloon and avoid nausea. After the initial liquid diet, you can move on to normal textured solid foods after around two weeks.
However, as the main goal is to lose weight, it is vital to follow the diet recommendations and start eating healthy and exercising more. But not to worry – it is significantly more manageable thanks to reduced appetite caused by the gastric balloon.
Even though the gastric balloon procedure is non-surgical and straightforward, there are still some risks to be aware of:
Even if your physical condition (i.e., BMI) is suitable for balloon procedure, some contraindications might not give you the “green light” for that procedure:
All in all, the gastric balloon procedure is an option to weigh, especially if you haven’t succeeded with diet and exercise before. This safe, non-surgical, and simple procedure keeps your heart at ease while giving you the necessary heads tart to finally get that easier and healthier life.