The gastric balloon is one of the latest medical weight loss procedures out there. It is, as the name suggests, an actual balloon, although it is not inflated with air, but rather with a safe saline procedure. Before this happens, however, it is inserted into the stomach using an endoscopy. Once in place and inflated, the stomach is almost completely full, which means the patient cannot eat as much, and that they feel full very quickly. Basically, it works along the same principles as any other restrictive gastric procedure, with the exception being that this one is temporary. After six months, the balloon is removed again, leaving the stomach intact.
How Is the Balloon Inserted?
The procedure is relative simple. Most people only require some gas and air or local sedation to have it completed. This is also why it only takes about 15 minutes to complete. A gastrointestinal specialist will use endoscopic tools to first put the balloon into the stomach, and to fill it after that.
The Advantages of the Gastric Balloon
- The procedure is quick and very simple.
- People who do not qualify for full surgery, for instance because they are too heavy or not heavy enough, may qualify for the gastric balloon.
- It is a temporary procedure, which means that there is no permanent change to the digestive organs. This also makes reversing the procedure very easy.
- It can be in place for six months, and the resulting weight loss in that time period is very impressive.
The Disadvantages of the Gastric Balloon
- You have to stick to a serious diet and exercise program in order to get real, lasting results.
- Some patients feel discomfort and nausea, particularly during the first few days of having the balloon inserted. It seems this is less of a problem if the balloon is filled with air, but this is only recently being done.
- There is a chance of the balloon leaking and deflating inside the stomach. Usually, patients then simple defecate the balloon if they hadn’t noticed it happening. If they had, an endoscopic procedure can remove the deflated balloon.
- It is a temporary procedure, although this is also an advantage. The reason why it is a disadvantage is because, once removed, it is possible that people simply return to their old habits and start to put weight on again.
Is the Gastric Balloon for You?
If you have thought about having weight loss surgery in the past, but you decided against it because you weren’t a suitable candidate, or because you are hesitant about such drastic measures, then the gastric balloon may be right for you. You do have to meet a number of acceptance criteria, such as being at least 18 years old, not having certain underlying medical conditions, and not having a current addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, but a gastrointestinal specialist who has been trained in the gastric balloon should be able to inform you about this.