Gastric Balloon


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: 

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

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: 

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is between 30 and 40
  • You’re willing to commit to healthy lifestyle changes, get regular medical follow-up and participate in behavioral therapy
  • You have not had any previous stomach or esophageal surgery

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: 

  • Dehydration – because of the balloon, there might be difficulty in consuming an adequate amount of liquids. However, this problem usually goes away after the stomach has adapted to the balloon.
  • Severe nausea, stomach cramps, and vomiting – usually normal and expected during the first few days. Not to worry – you will be given medication to help prevent and alleviate it.
  • Ulcers – mostly caused by the balloon irritating the lining of the stomach. To reduce the risk, it’s essential to avoid taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Doctors typically give patients omeprazole or other proton pump inhibitors to reduce stomach acid while the balloon is in place.
  • Balloon deflation – occurrence is low. However, it can be a hazardous situation where the silicone balloon is compromised, deflates, and could move through the digestive system where it might cause a blockage. Deflated balloons must be removed endoscopically.
  • Early removal – due to intolerance. Not very common, but patients are given medications to help them through their nausea if it happens.
  • Gastric perforation – also very rare, but the higher risk is for the patients who have a prior history of stomach surgery.


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: 

  • Currently pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Serious liver damage (e.g., cirrhosis)
  • History or current use of blood-thinning medications (e.g., Coumadin or Xarelto)
  • Prior history of stomach or bariatric surgery (e.g., RNY Gastric Bypass, Nissen fundoplication, Gastric Surgery, or Sleeve Gastrectomy)
  • Anomalies in the gastrointestinal tract (e.g., large Hiatal hernias that is greater than 5 cm, acute inflammation in the esophagus or presence of stomach ulcers)

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.


Call Us to Book a Free Consultation

Ask a Question
Book An Appointment