The gastric balloon is becoming a popular alternative to ‘going under the knife’. It is a non-invasive procedure which means no general anaesthetic or overnight stay and can be done quickly and painlessly.
The gastric balloon it is a thin, flexible silicone balloon which can be filled with a saline solution or air. It is placed in a deflated state in your stomach through a tube and inflated. In inflated state, the balloon reduces the capacity of the stomach and causes a feeling of fullness when you take a meal. This helps you consume smaller portions of food which will lead to weight loss.
The procedure takes as little as 10 minutes and you can return home after an hour. You recover after a day’s rest and then resume routine activities. The balloon remains in the stomach for six months at the maximum. It is deflated and then drawn up through the endoscope.
Are there any non-surgical option for weight loss?
Obesity surgery is an effective solution for chronic weight problems. But for the patients for whom surgery is not recommended, or who prefer to have a non-surgical option, there are a couple of non-surgical alternatives such as gastric balloon and gastric stimulation, depending on personal preferences as well as your BMI.
Is the gastric balloon suitable for everyone?
No. It is becoming a popular choice for a great many patients but as with any procedure – surgical or non-surgical, there are a set of criteria which must be used to determine suitability for a procedure.
Some patients may find that for a variety of reasons, the gastric balloon is not an option for them. These reasons include treatment for cancer, hernia or any other disease which affects the stomach and/or gullet; history of substance abuse; chronic heart, liver or kidney disease; pregnancy or breastfeeding, some psychiatric conditions; steroid therapy; conditions such as haemophilia which cause problems with blood clotting/bleeding; any previous obesity surgery such as gastric bypass.
Do you have to follow a special diet?
You will find that you have to have smaller portions of food and that you feel fuller a lot more quickly then you used to. You can eat most foods although you will be advised to follow a healthy diet consisting of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain, fish and chicken and starchy carbohydrates.
This is not to say that you can’t treat yourself but be aware that anything sweet or sugary can make you feel sickly. And, if you do have too many sweet things then there is the risk of gaining weight.
Is it a permanent solution?
No. The gastric balloon is a short term solution to what is a long term problem. The balloon only stays it for a maximum of six months after which then it is removed. You will have to stick to a pre-agreed diet and exercise plan, discussed beforehand with your medical team.
Is it dangerous?
The gastric balloon is a safe procedure. If something goes wrong then you will need to contact your specialist immediately. The most likely scenario is leaking from the balloon or actual bursting.