What is a gastric balloon (weight loss balloon)?
A gastric balloon aims to reduce feelings of hunger and help you feel fuller for longer after eating only small meals. Also known as an intragastric balloon, this type of weight loss treatment can help you lose weight without invasive surgery.
During the procedure a soft balloon is inserted into your stomach through your mouth, using an endoscope (a thin, flexible telescope). The balloon is then filled with saline solution to partially fill your stomach, leaving less room for large amounts of food or drink. A gastric balloon is designed to be a temporary weight loss solution, and will usually be removed after six months. It is sometimes used to help you lose enough weight to undergo gastric banding or gastric bypass surgery.
About the gastric balloon procedure
Gastric balloons are inserted under sedation in a procedure which takes 20 to 30 minutes. It is a relatively minor procedure, but it may take your stomach a little while to get used to the balloon. You will usually be able to go home the same day, or the day after the balloon has been inserted.
Having a gastric balloon inserted at a Spire hospital means you will be treated by an experienced specialist who will discuss your options and the best course of treatment for you before going ahead. Our team of dietitians and specialist nurses will look after you throughout your stay and provide support and advice after treatment.
You can expect to be treated in a premium private hospital at a location of your choice, and be safe in the knowledge that Spire is committed to your safety with exceptional healthcare standards and cleanliness.
What is the gastric balloon procedure?
An intragastric balloon, or gastric balloon, is an inflatable prosthetic device, which is frequently used as a temporary aid to achieving weight loss in moderately obese patients.
The gastric balloon is endoscopically inserted via the mouth and oesophagus directly into the stomach and then inflated with saline through a valve and port to produce artificial bulk in the stomach. The purpose of this bulk is to produce a feeling of satiety (you feel full for longer) and thereby reduce a patient's ability to consume large volumes of food or fluid in one intake.
As this procedure is only aimed at providing a temporary weight loss solution, the balloon is only left in situation for a maximum of six months.
This procedure can be used in isolation to provide a short-term solution for patients who are struggling to cope with their individual weight loss challenges without additional help to curb their appetite. It can also be used as an adjunct for more seriously obese patients who need short-term assistance in getting to a safer weight before contemplating more complex and permanent weight loss surgery.
Gastric balloon surgery is known as an endoscopic procedure and generally takes about 20-30 minutes to perform. Patients are well sedated, but not asleep whilst a deflated balloon is inserted into the stomach directly through the mouth and oesophagus. Once the balloon is in the correct position it is inflated with saline through a valve.
What is recovery like after the weight loss balloon is inserted?
The first few days after the procedure are generally uncomfortable until the stomach becomes used to the presence of the intragastric balloon. It is common for many patients to experience nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea and cramping until their body completely adjusts.
Following a procedure, all patients are restricted to a liquid only diet for the first three days, i.e.: water, juice, milk, thin soup and sloppy jelly. Gradually a patient's ability to tolerate most types of food should improve, although the volume of food they are able to consume in one intake should be substantially reduced whilst the balloon is in situ, providing that the appropriate dietary guidelines are followed.
Dependant on the level of nausea most patients are discharged on the day of or the day after surgery. In the early days following discharge patients are strongly advised to stay gently mobile at home, but to avoid any level of activity that would cause undue strain on the abdominal area.
In a small number of cases, patients may not be able to tolerate the balloon for the full 6 month period and when this happens, it will need to be removed early. There is a possibility this may happen in the first few days after the balloon is placed, if side effects (including nausea and vomiting) do not resolve or are worse than anticipated.
Patients will be advised to take a specific amount of recovery time away from work, dependent on the type of work they perform, but it is usual to take around a week off and to refrain from any strenuous exercise for at least 8 weeks following surgery.
What risks are associated with the gastric balloon procedure?
On rare occasions the intragastric balloon can deflate and/or migrate through the stomach and into the intestines. This can lead to an erosion or obstruction of the stomach or intestine, which would require urgent corrective surgery.
Although gastric balloon procedures are regularly performed without any complications, it is very important that all candidates are fully aware of both the benefits and risks of undertaking this type of specialist weight loss procedure .
All endoscopic procedures, no mater how expertly or carefully they are performed, carry risks and the importance of a full evaluation and consultation to discuss your understanding and expectations in relation to these risks cannot be over emphasised.
How do I find out if I am a suitable candidate for gastric balloon procedure?
Spire Healthcare's consultant gastro-intestinal surgeons will carry out a full evaluation of your individual needs and circumstances and provide you with a comprehensive verbal and written explanation of any recommended treatment.
Our expert consultant surgeons understand the importance of the decision you are making when contemplating a weight loss procedure. Throughout your consultation you will be encouraged to ask as many questions as you wish and to take your time in making a decision to proceed with any treatment.