Suffering from overweight or obesity is a very common yet serious health concern. Obesity reduces life expectancy and increases the risk of high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, both of which are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease and strokes. However, losing weight is seldom easy. If you have not been able to lose weight through diet and exercise, you might want to consider the gastric balloon solution, also known as intragastric balloon procedure.
The gastric balloon procedure is a non-surgical weight loss procedure and can help you shed extra pounds quickly and safely, reducing your risk of various obesity-related health conditions and overall improving your quality of life.
In this article, we will discuss in depth what the gastric balloon weight loss procedure is, for whom it is recommended, and its main benefits.
What is the Gastric Balloon Weight Loss Procedure?
The gastric balloon system is a non-surgical weight-loss procedure in which a saline-filled silicone balloon is placed inside your stomach. As a result, you achieve satiety — the feeling of fullness after eating — rather quickly. This, in turn, limits your food intake and leads to weight loss.
The gastric balloon placement procedure is performed by a trained gastroenterologist. It is a simple, non-surgical outpatient procedure. With the help of an endoscope, a gastroenterologist will place a soft silicone balloon inside your stomach. After the balloon has been safely placed, it is filled with saltwater.
So basically, the silicone balloon gives the patient a feeling of being half-full. Consequently, the patient is less likely to overeat, which paves the way for effective weight loss. Keep in mind that the gastric balloon placement works only if you make long-term lifestyle changes. Namely, you will need to follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly if you wish to get lasting effects.
The gastric balloon placement might be a good option for those who suffer from excess weight and have previously tried losing weight through dieting and exercising, but couldn’t achieve the desired results.
Since the procedure doesn’t alter your stomach’s anatomy, it is an extremely safe technique. Most patients who adopt a healthy diet and exercise on a regular basis can experience considerable weight loss within the first few months following the procedure.
Some of the main advantages of the gastric balloon procedure are:
- It doesn’t require general anesthetic
- It doesn’t involve any cutting, nor does it leave any scars
- Compared to other weight-loss surgeries, it has a very low risk of complications
- It provides quick weight loss results
- It doesn’t require hospitalization. The patient can leave the endoscopy center in a couple of hours
- The procedure is completely reversible (unlike other more invasive options)
Why is the Gastric Balloon Procedure Done?
Losing weight can reduce your risk of several serious weight-related health issues. These include:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease…etc.
Who is it Recommended for?
The gastric balloon non-surgical placement is recommended for people who:
- Have a BMI in the range of 30 to 40
- Are willing to introduce long-term lifestyle changes, like eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly
- Have not had any stomach surgery before
Although the gastric balloon system is a highly safe and effective weight loss technique, it is not advisable for all those who struggle with excess weight. You will have to undergo a screening process, which will help the doctor determine whether it is the right option for you or not.
Risks & Side-Effects
The gastric balloon procedure is extremely safe. That said, like any other medical interventions, it may cause some mild side effects after the procedure.
The most common side effects include nausea and mild abdominal cramping immediately after the balloon has been inserted. You can safely manage these side-effects at home with oral medications prescribed by your doctor.
Serious side effects are very rare. Contact your gastroenterologist if you experience abdominal pain after the procedure. You should also get in touch with the doctor if nausea and vomiting persist.
How to Prepare for the Gastric Balloon Procedure
Once you have decided to go ahead with the procedure, your gastroenterologist will brief you about how to prepare for it. You will likely have to undergo some blood tests before the gastric balloon procedure.
Your doctor may advise you to not eat certain foods or avoid alcohol and carbonated drinks one day before the intervention. If you are taking any medications or supplements, make sure you tell your doctor about them. It is possible that you may be advised to avoid certain medications before the procedure.
The doctor will ask you not eat anything after midnight. Make sure you follow all the recommendations given by your treating doctor.
What to Expect During the Gastric Balloon Procedure
The gastric balloon weight loss solution is an outpatient procedure and is usually performed in the endoscopy unit. To ensure safe and comfortable placement of the gastric balloon, you will be lightly sedated.
During the gastric balloon procedure, your gastroenterologist will insert a catheter (which is a thin tube) into your stomach through your mouth. The gastric balloon will be attached to this tube. The gastroenterologist will advance an endoscope — a thin, flexible tube to which a tiny camera is attached — into your stomach. The endoscope enables the gastroenterologist to see the balloon as he fills it with saline (saltwater).
The entire procedure usually doesn’t take longer than 15-20 minutes. You can expect to go home within 1-2 hours following the completion of the procedure.
What to Expect After the Gastric Balloon Procedure
After the gastric balloon placement, you will stay on a clear liquid diet for 2 days. You will then advance your diet to a full liquid diet for a week. You will then only consume soft foods for a week. Regular diet usually starts again two weeks post-procedure.
After the insertion of the silicone balloon filled with saline solution, you will start feeling full relatively quickly. This means you will consume less food. If you follow your doctor’s dietary and exercise recommendations post-surgery, you can reasonably expect to lose up to 15% of your weight within the first six months. Most people who undergo this procedure and make permanent lifestyle changes are able to maintain the weight loss long-term.
So, as you can see, the gastric balloon procedure leads to significant weight loss. Consequently, it helps you not only reach your weight loss goals, but also feel better, and significantly improve your health and longevity.
The gastric balloon non-surgical weight loss procedure is a great solution for those who are looking for an effective, rapid, and healthy way to lose weight, and who are willing to make permanent lifestyle changes.