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Struggling with weight loss can be a challenging journey. Millions of patients suffer from excess weight and are exposed to the possible health risks arising from obesity. Patients try all kinds of diets and exercise plans and many times it just feels impossible to shed more than a few pounds. Gaining weight back after investing much time and effort to lose it can get frustrating and depressing. Weight loss is difficult due to multiple metabolic, hormonal, genetic, and lifestyle factors, and an intervention is often needed to help the patient succeed in their journey.  Exploring various options is essential to finding the right approach for each individual.


In the pursuit of effective weight loss solutions, gastric weight loss balloons have emerged as a non-surgical option that offers promising results. Designed to aid individuals in their weight loss journey, these balloons are minimally invasive, temporary devices that occupy space within the stomach, leading to reduced food intake and increased feelings of satiety.

What is a gastric balloon?


A gastric balloon is a soft, expandable device that is inserted into the stomach through an endoscopic procedure, without the need for surgery. It is typically made of a durable silicone material and filled with saline, taking up space within the stomach and thereby reducing its capacity. By occupying a portion of the stomach, the weight loss balloon restricts the amount of food an individual can consume, leading to a calorie deficit and subsequent weight loss.


How does the gastric balloon work?


Once the gastric balloon is placed in the stomach, it works in multiple ways to promote weight loss. First, it physically occupies space within the stomach, resulting in a feeling of fullness even with smaller portions of food. This reduces the overall calorie intake and encourages portion control. Additionally, the presence of the balloon slows down the movement of food from the stomach to the intestines, which prolongs the feeling of fullness and reduces the frequency of eating.


Am I a candidate for a gastric balloon?


Gastric weight loss balloons have gained popularity as a non-surgical alternative that can aid in achieving weight loss goals. However, it is important to understand who qualifies for this procedure and whether it is the right option for you. In this article, we will discuss the criteria that determine eligibility for gastric weight loss balloons and help you determine if this method aligns with your specific needs and circumstances.


What BMI qualifies for a gastric balloon?


One of the primary criteria used to determine eligibility for gastric weight loss balloons is body mass index (BMI). BMI is a calculation based on an individual’s height and weight and it helps classify patient is a standardized fashion into the following categories: underweight (BMI <18.5), normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9), overweight (BMI 25-29.9), obesity class I (BMI 30-34.9), obesity class II (BMI 35-39.9), and obesity class III (BMI ≥ 40). Typically, individuals with a BMI between 30 and 40 are considered ideal candidates for gastric balloons. However, in some cases, individuals with a BMI slightly outside this range may still qualify based on other factors such as obesity-related health conditions.


Can I qualify for a gastric balloon if my BMI is above 40?


Patients with a BMI above 40 who do not want to undergo surgery and who want a fully reversible minimally invasive weight loss procedure can certainly be candidates for a gastric balloon. Such patients may need the rapid weight loss provided by the gastric balloon placement followed by taking weight loss medications such as one of the GLP-1 receptor agonists, which would ensure the patient maintains the weight loss and potentially continues to lose more weight as the medication dose is increased.


Can I qualify for a gastric balloon if my BMI is below 30?


Patients with a BMI that falls in the overweight category and who suffer from weight-related comorbid conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, fatty liver, or hyperlipidemia may be considered candidates for a gastric balloon as weight loss would have a significant positive impact on their health and it can help treat their medical conditions and prevent them from gradually getting worse and leading to poor outcomes. A medical evaluation is necessary to determine whether someone who falls in the overweight category and who has not been able to lose weight with diet and exercise, is a candidate for a gastric balloon.



Body Mass Index (BMI) limitations.


While BMI calculation is very useful as an objective classification of an individual’s weight, it certainly has several shortfalls.

  • The BMI does not account for body composition as it does not take into consideration the percentage of body fat versus muscle mass. Two individuals can have the same BMI but the person with a lot more muscle mass can be much healthier than the one with more body fat.
  • The Body Mass Index number may not mean the same thing depending on the person’s ethnicity. For example, much of the Asian population has a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes as a much lower BMI than Caucasians. As a result, in Asian populations, the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies obesity as a BMI of more than 25.
  • The BMI does not account for the patient’s health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, nor does it account for the patient’s risk factors such as family history of certain diseases.


Commitment to Lifestyle Changes


It is crucial to recognize that a gastric weight loss balloon is not a stand-alone solution for weight loss. Candidates must be willing to make significant lifestyle changes, including adopting a balanced diet, increasing physical activity, and engaging in long-term behavior modification. The balloon serves as a tool to assist in weight loss efforts, but sustainable results require commitment and dedication beyond the placement of the device.


Benefits of Gastric Balloons


  1. Non-surgical approach: Gastric weight loss balloons offer an alternative to invasive weight loss surgeries such as gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy. The procedure is relatively quick, requires no incisions, and typically allows patients to return home on the same day.
  2. Effective weight loss: Clinical studies have shown that gastric weight loss balloons can help individuals lose a significant amount of weight. Results may vary, but it is not uncommon for patients to achieve a weight loss of 10% to 15% of their total body weight during the period the balloon remains in place.
  3. Short-term commitment: Unlike permanent surgical interventions, gastric weight loss balloons are temporary devices. Most balloons are left in the stomach for a period of six months to eight months, after which they are removed.
  4. Lifestyle adjustment support: The presence of a gastric weight loss balloon can act as a catalyst for adopting healthier eating habits and engaging in regular physical activity. Patients often receive counseling and support from healthcare professionals to make long-term lifestyle changes, leading to sustained weight loss even after the balloon is removed.


What are the risks of Gastric Balloons?

While gastric weight loss balloons are generally safe, it is important to be aware of potential risks and considerations before undergoing the procedure. Some possible complications include nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, and balloon deflation. While some nausea, acid reflux, and cramping, are expected in the first few days post gastric balloon placement, more serious complications such as ulcers or balloon deflation are rare. It is crucial to consult with an endoscopic weight loss expert to determine if this method is suitable for an individual’s specific circumstances and medical history.


What are the contraindications for gastric balloon placement?

Any condition that is considered a contraindication for sedation or endoscopy is a contraindication for gastric balloon placement.

Previous gastric surgery of any kind is an absolute contraindication for gastric balloon placement as it would put the patient at risk of gastric perforation.

Eating disorders, such as bulimia and binge eating disorder, are considered a contraindication for gastric balloon placement.



Orbera gastric balloon

Orbera gastric balloon is the number one gastric balloon in the world. The Orbera program is very well tested as it has been around for 20 years now. Because the Orbera balloon is smooth, it is less likely to irritate the stomach. This means that the risk of developing ulcers and erosions is extremely low. This makes the Orbera balloon very well tolerated. The Orbera intragastric balloon is kept in the stomach for a total of 6 months before it is removed endoscopically. However, the Orbera weight loss program is a 12-month program. We continue to work with you and provide you with the support you need after removing the balloon, to make sure you continue with the diet and lifestyle changes you adopted while the balloon was in. This way, we make sure that the weight loss is maintained long-term.



Spatz3 gastric balloon

Spatz3 gastric balloon is the first and only adjustable weight loss balloon in the world. The Spatz3 gastric balloon is kept in the stomach for 8 months. The Spatz3 balloon has a catheter connected to it. This allows the endoscopist to adjust the balloon size if needed. If the patient is having symptoms of nausea and vomiting that do not resolve with medications, we can perform an endoscopy and aspirate fluid from the balloon to make it smaller and well-tolerated. This avoids unnecessary removal of the balloon. On the other hand, when a patient hits a plateau around 3 months post Spatz3 balloon placement, we can perform an endoscopy and add more fluid to the balloon to make it larger and restore the restriction which allows the weight loss to resume and makes it more likely for the patient to achieve their weight loss goal. The Spatz3 weight loss program also includes continued support and dietitian follow-up virtual visits to make sure the weight loss success is maintained long-term.




Contact us to check if you qualify for the gastric balloon procedure


Gastric weight loss balloons can be an effective tool for individuals seeking to achieve significant weight loss without undergoing surgery. However, qualifying for this procedure depends on various factors, including BMI, obesity-related health conditions, previous weight loss attempts, psychological well-being, and commitment to lifestyle changes. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional experienced in bariatric medicine to evaluate your eligibility and determine if a gastric weight loss balloon aligns with your specific needs and goals. Remember, the decision to pursue any weight loss intervention should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional who can guide you toward the most appropriate and effective approach for your individual circumstances.

Contact us now to check if you qualify for a gastric balloon. Call us now at (301) 288-1319 and our team is ready to answer all your questions.




Frequently Asked Questions


How painful is a gastric balloon?

The gastric balloon placement, and removal, are performed under sedation. You are asleep during the procedure and you do not experience any pain. While the gastric balloon procedure is not painful, you may experience some crampy abdominal pain in the first couple of days after the procedure. This usually resolves spontaneously and if needed, can be treated with antispasmodics.


How long does a gastric balloon last?

The Orbera balloon is kept in the stomach for 6 months. The Spatz balloon is kept for 8 months. This is per the FDA approval of the gastric balloons. The gastric balloon can last longer in the stomach, but this is not recommended as the risk of side effects and complications increases.


How many pounds can you lose with a gastric balloon?

The weight loss with the gastric balloon varies depending on the diet that is followed and the lifestyle changes the patient implements. It also depends on following the instructions and following up with the dietitian on a regular basis. On average, a weight loss of around 13% of your total body weight is expected. You can certainly lose more pounds with the gastric balloon, as we see on a regular basis. The trick is to implement the right lifestyle changes to prevent weight gain after removing the gastric balloon.


How much does it cost for a gastric balloon?

The cost of the gastric balloon procedure varies depending on the type of balloon, the practice offering it, the location, and what is included in the package. In general, the cost for a gastric balloon package in the US is around $6,500 to $7,500.


What are the cons of gastric balloons?

The gastric balloons are generally well tolerated. Patients can experience nausea, vomiting, and crampy abdominal pain in the few days following the gastric balloon placement. These are usually treated with medications and they resolve in a few days. Occasionally, a patient may not tolerate the balloon, and in such cases, the balloon may need to be removed. One of the cons of gastric balloons is that they are only temporary. While many people actually like the fact that the gastric balloon is temporary, there is a risk of weight gain after gastric balloon removal. At The Silhouette Clinic, our gastric balloon packages include follow-up for 6 months after the balloon removal, to make sure you have the support you need to continue with the lifestyle changes and prevent weight regain.


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