Everything You Need to Know About Having a Gastric Balloon Procedure

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Home » Everything You Need to Know About Having a Gastric Balloon Procedure

Introduction about gastric balloon

Carrying excess weight has a tremendous impact on your health — in many ways. Particularly as you get older, those extra pounds increase your risk of developing serious medical conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. One of the healthiest gifts you can give yourself is achieving and maintaining an ideal body weight.

If you have ever tried to shed even a few pounds, you probably know it’s much easier said than done. When your body mass index, or BMI, climbs over 25, reaching a healthy weight may seem like a monumental task. Bariatric surgery, which permanently alters the stomach and intestines, may provide an option for some people. For others, however, who are overweight but haven’t had success with diet and exercise, it can be an extreme solution.

For obese men and women with a BMI in the 30 to 40 range, a non-surgical weight-loss method may be ideal, such as the Obalo gastric balloon system.

Why is a gastric balloon done?

Along with the increased risk of obesity-related complications, a surgeon may recommend weight loss before an operation unrelated to obesity. It’s a way to reduce your risks of complications from that operation. Typically, weight loss needs to accelerate beyond the general 1-pound-per-week guideline for unsupervised personal weight loss. If you need to lose 50 pounds prior to surgery, your procedure could be delayed a year — and even longer if you have weight loss setbacks.

Gastric balloon techniques are nonsurgical and reversible, offering accelerated weight loss over a shorter period, usually six months. Though individual results vary, you could lose as much as 30% of your excess weight during that time.

What is a gastric balloon?

The Obalon Balloon System represents an advance to gastric balloon technology. Instead of an endoscopic procedure to install the gastric balloon, you simply swallow the Obalon balloons. Three small balloons are placed in your stomach over a three-month period, and once swallowed, these are inflated to occupy space in your stomach, so you feel full sooner and eat less.

How do you prepare for a gastric balloon?

Medically supervised diet

Because your hunger urges are modified, your Healthy Life Bariatrics caregivers assist you with a supervised eating and exercise plan. Changing eating habits is an important part of maintaining weight loss, since the Obalon balloons will be removed after six months.

Your personal commitment

Feelings of hunger are often a major challenge to successful weight loss and weight maintenance. Long-term weight loss depends on your commitment to changing lifestyle habits of diet and activity, and I will discuss your readiness for this prior to undertaking a gastric balloon procedure with you.

How is a gastric balloon placed?

Placing an Obalon balloon takes about 10 minutes, as you swallow the capsule and I inflate the balloon when it’s in your stomach. The second balloon is placed the same way a month later, and a third capsule is swallowed two months after the second. At six months after placement of the first balloon, all three are removed. Most patients can return to normal activities immediately after placement.

Removing the balloons takes about 15 minutes and requires light sedation, so you should arrange a ride home after the procedure.

What can you expect after a gastric balloon?

Double-speed weight loss

Clinical studies show that the Obalon Balloon System combined with diet and exercise changes can help you lose weight at twice the rate of diet and exercise alone. In addition, you’re likely to maintain nearly 90% of your weight loss, measured one year after the Obalon procedure.

What are the Side effects or limits of a gastric balloon?

The Obalon system is very safe, with serious side effects occurring in less than 0.5% of the procedures.

An unusual limitation to any gastric balloon system is that you shouldn’t plan to live at a significantly different elevation than where your balloon is inflated. Differences in elevation cause changes in pressure that could affect the size of the balloons and the effects on weight loss. Typically, these limits are 4,000 feet above the Healthy Life Bariatrics office in Los Angeles or 2,500 feet below. This is not a problem around Los Angeles, which is about 300 feet above sea level on average.

Patient restrictions

You might not be a candidate for gastric balloon procedures if you take certain medications that irritate your stomach, such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, or blood thinners. Anti-seizure or anti-arrhythmia medications may also be an issue.

Previous surgeries that narrowed your gastrointestinal tract also rule you out. Gastric balloons can’t be used after other bariatric surgery, but a previous gastric balloon treatment causes no issue since the balloons are removed at the end of the procedure.

A gastric balloon is a soft, smooth, durable balloon made of silicone rubber. It is designed to be placed in the stomach to reduce its capacity and help you feel full with less food. The deflated balloon is inserted through the mouth and into the stomach by a doctor using an endoscope (a thin, flexible tube).

Benefits of Gastric Balloon

The placement of an Gastric balloon helps you lose weight. Weight loss can lower your risk of potentially serious weight-related health problems, such as:

Certain cancers, including breast, endometrial and prostate cancer.

Heart disease and stroke.

High blood pressure.

High cholesterol levels.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

Sleep apnea.

Type 2 diabetes.

Gastric 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.

Frequently asked questions regarding gastric balloon

Who is gastric Balloon Therapy For?

Gastric balloon therapy is ideal for individuals with a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 30 and 40 who haven’t achieved desired weight loss through diet and exercise alone and are seeking a non-surgical weight loss option. It’s particularly suited for those who might be at risk for surgical complications or who prefer a less invasive approach.

What Health Conditions Does the gastric Balloon Treat?

While the gastric balloon is primarily a weight loss tool, it can indirectly aid in the management of obesity-related conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and heart disease by facilitating weight loss.

How Much Weight Can You Lose with a Gastric Balloon?

Patients can expect to lose about 10-15% of their body weight during the 6-month period that the balloon is in place, though individual results may vary depending on adherence to dietary and lifestyle changes.

How Common is this Procedure?

The gastric balloon procedure is becoming increasingly popular, especially among individuals looking for a non-surgical alternative to traditional bariatric surgery. Its exact prevalence, however, varies by region and healthcare availability.

What Happens Before gastric Balloon Placement?

Before the procedure, patients undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation, including a physical examination, laboratory tests, and sometimes a psychological evaluation to ensure they are suitable candidates for the therapy.

How Will I Be Prepared for the Procedure?

Preparation includes following a special diet and fasting instructions provided by the healthcare provider. Patients may also receive medication to relax them and reduce stomach secretions during the procedure.

How is the gastric Balloon Inserted?

The balloon is inserted endoscopically. During the procedure, the patient is sedated, and a thin tube with a camera (endoscope) is passed through the mouth into the stomach. The deflated balloon is then placed in the stomach and filled with saline.

What Happens During the gastric Balloon Procedure?

During the procedure, which lasts about 30 minutes, the balloon is inflated with saline solution to the appropriate size. The process is monitored through the endoscope to ensure correct placement and inflation.

What Happens After the Procedure?

Post-procedure, patients may experience nausea and stomach discomfort, which typically subside within a few days. A gradual diet transition from liquids to solids is advised, along with regular follow-up appointments.

How Long Does an gastric Balloon Last?

The balloon is generally designed to be in place for six months. Keeping it longer increases the risk of complications, such as degradation or deflation of the balloon.

What Happens When the Balloon Comes Out?

When the balloon is removed, which is also done endoscopically, patients must continue to adhere to the dietary and lifestyle changes initiated during the therapy to maintain weight loss.

How Painful is it?

The insertion and presence of the balloon can cause some discomfort and nausea initially, but these symptoms usually resolve within a few days. Pain management strategies are provided as part of the post-procedure care.

What are the Risks of a Gastric Balloon?

Risks include gastric discomfort, nausea, risk of balloon deflation, and, in rare cases, more serious complications like gastric perforation or intestinal obstruction.

What is the Long-Term Outlook with the gastric Balloon?

Long-term success depends significantly on the patient’s commitment to maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle after the balloon is removed. It is a tool for initiating weight loss, not a permanent solution.

I hope this detailed explanation provides a clear understanding of gastric balloon therapy and its role in weight loss management.

Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki
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