Life-Changing Weight Loss, Without Surgery – The Gastric Balloon Procedure
Have you struggled to lose weight naturally and are even considering a bariatric procedure, but ‘going under the knife’ scares you? Then gastric balloon procedure might be the right option for you.
This non-surgical, short-term solution has been a golden mean for these types of cases for a few decades around the world. Make sure to read more about our partner medical centers patients’ success stories.
Unlike other bariatric procedures, the gastric balloon’s concept is simple and, therefore, intelligible for anyone. 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 over-eating 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.
The gastric balloon is a go-to solution for someone who wants to boost their weight loss when other options haven’t worked out well.
You can dive further deep into the ins and outs of the gastric balloon here.
Types of Balloons
Our partners are providing three types of balloons:
- 4-months Elipse gastric balloon (without anesthesia)
- 6-months Allergan gastric balloon (intravenous)
- 12-months Spatz gastric balloon (general)
The most interesting one of these options is the Elipse gastric balloon, a new generation balloon. What makes it unique is that it doesn’t require anesthesia for insertion or a separate procedure for removal, unlike other balloons – it merely detaches itself from the body after four months.
The outcome of all of these balloon procedures is quite the same. People tend to lose around 10-25 kg or even more, depending on their starting weight. To find the best option for you, talk to your physician, who will help you find the right program.
Outcomes From Gastric Balloon
Gastric balloon (also known as The BioEnterics® intragastric balloon (BIB®)) program gives you a huge helping hand on your journey to a healthier body and life in a very safe and effective way.
Similar to other bariatric procedures, a gastric balloon in your stomach doesn’t guarantee you a massive weight loss – it’s just a tool to help you achieve it. The responsibility to hit the weight of your dreams lies on your shoulders.
To succeed, you need to start by finding a great program with great people – physicians, dietitians, fitness specialists, and psychotherapists are vital to guide you on your weight loss journey. Also, having a proper diet and lifestyle program sets the foundation for success.
The most popular balloon program lasts for 12 months, where six months are the therapeutic months with the implanted balloon. After half a year, the balloon is removed, and some may say the tougher part begins – the patient doesn’t have a balloon in their stomach anymore that prevents over-eating or unhealthy choices.
For the next six months, the patient will work very closely with a dietitian, psychotherapist, physician, and fitness specialist to enhance the lifestyle transformation. Keeping up with the newly acquired lifestyle helps you maintain the lower weight and continue going further down once the balloon is removed.
The gastric balloon helps to lose around 7-15% of total body weight in the first six months after balloon placement. Total excess weight loss varies from 30-47% and depends heavily on the compliance to diet and exercise plans.
If lifestyle changes aren’t continued after the balloon’s removal, it’s likely to regain the weight. The amount of the weight you lose is solely dependent on your new lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, healthy diet, and frequent follow-ups, and how you can stick to the plan that your physicians, dietitians, etc. have created for you.
If wanted or needed, there’s an option to reimplement the balloon. However, it’s still recommended to wait at least a month or two before considering that option. Also, it’s good to keep in mind that gastric balloon isn’t meant for long-term usage – consider bariatric surgery for that, instead.
What You Can Eat With the Balloon
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.
Cost and Patient Info
Gastric balloon procedure prices depend on the program and type of balloon you decide to use. However, the cost isn’t out of this world, since our partners in Estonia can offer top-quality service and reasonable prices for anybody:
4-months Elipse gastric balloon – 3090€
6-months Allergan gastric balloon – 2690€
12-months Spatz gastric balloon – 3290€
Good to know: all programs and prices are all-inclusive, meaning all the consultations, the procedure itself, transportation, tests, post-procedure support period, and so much more.
This procedure is recommended for people with a body mass index (BMI) above 27, especially if a person has an obesity-related illness. Also, the patient should be 18 years or older to be ready for this life-changing procedure.
Risks and Contraindications
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 in 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 headstart to finally get that easier and healthier life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much weight can I lose with the gastric balloon?
A: Typical weight loss with a balloon is around 7-15% of total body weight in the first 6 months after balloon placement. Total excess weight loss varies from 30-47% and depends heavily on the compliance to diet and exercise plans. (For example, a 100 kg person could expect to lose around 15-20 kg on average.)
Q: What are the results of weight loss with the gastric balloon compared with other diet programs?
A: The gastric balloon can help you lose more weight than other diet programs since it gives and keeps the feeling of a full stomach. Therefore, it’s easier for you to control your eating habits and opt for a healthier lifestyle. However, the balloon itself doesn’t do all the work, and you are responsible for the highest results yourself.
Q: Will I feel the balloon in my stomach?
A: Some discomfort during the first few days after the procedure is typical. After this, you will mostly feel like your stomach is full.
Q: How long will it take to recover from the procedure?
A: You must plan at least three days of inactivity to recover from the procedure. You will be able to continue with regular activity sooner or later, depending on how quickly your body adapts to the balloon.
Q: Will I need to take time off work?
A: It’s recommended to take about a week off work following insertion to ensure the symptoms have resolved, and your body has mostly adapted to balloon.
Q: Does having the balloon limit my activities?
A: You should avoid any intense training or exercise during the first week after the balloon placement. However, once your body has adapted to the BIB, it is highly recommended to start moving and exercising more each week as it is a vital part of losing weight and keeping it off. Only then can you be successful in your weight loss journey. Not to worry – your dietitians and other consultants will provide you a customized training plan.
Q: Can I drink alcohol?
A: Moderate alcohol consumption is fine, but keep in mind that it doesn’t contribute well to your weight loss efforts.
Q: Is there anything I can’t eat?
A: Dietitians will provide you specific dietary advice and meal plans to make the BIB as comfortable as possible and maximize the weight loss results. Around the time of insertion, adjustment, or removal, your diet is more restricted. However, outside of these periods, you can eat most foods without a problem.
After all, you won’t want to eat as much as before, but keep in mind that spicy, fatty, or sweet foods might make you feel sick.
Q: What happens if the balloon leaks or deflates?
A: As the doctor fills your balloon with a colored dye called methylene blue, you will notice the leakage from the moment it happens, since it makes your urine change color greenish or blueish. Although it’s rare, it can be a serious problem. Should this occur, you should call your doctor immediately. If the balloon has been depleted, it will most likely come out naturally through your digestive system. However, in some cases, the doctor has to remove it.
Q: How will the balloon be removed?
A: The gastric balloon will be removed the same it was inserted through the mouth using an endoscope. The 20-minute procedure will be performed under vein or general anesthesia.