Intragastric Balloon: A non-invasive procedure to help you lose weight
An intragastric balloon, or simply gastric balloon, is a medical device that is placed into your stomach to reduce the feeling of hunger and aid weight loss. The procedure is non-surgical and you can leave the clinic shortly after the balloon has been inserted. You won’t have any scars, stitches or incisions left from the procedure as it is carried out endoscopically.
Who is eligible for an intragastric balloon?
An intragastric balloon is typically recommended to individuals whose BMI is between 30 and 40. BMI stands for Body Mass Index and is the standard and widely-accepted benchmark for body mass. You can calculate yours here.
While it is designed as a stand-alone procedure, a gastric balloon is often recommended also to individuals who need to lose some weight before undergoing a more invasive surgery, such as sleeve gastrectomy.
Individuals who suffer from stomach irritation or ulcers may be not suitable to receive a gastric balloon, as well as women who are pregnant, plan to get pregnant in the following 6 months, or who are breast-feeding.
Intragastric balloon: How it works step by step
At KCM Clinic we exclusively use Orbera® balloon devices, a leading global producer for intragastric balloons. The balloon itself is a clinical-grade balloon that is filled with a sterile saline solution. It is inserted into your stomach endoscopically and will stay there for a around 6 months. As it fills a big part of your stomach, it will help you feel full sooner, thus limiting food intake. Below is a quick overview of how a gastric balloon procedure works.
In order to assess if you’re eligible for an intragastric balloon, we will ask you a few questions regarding your medical records, your current health status, as well as walk you through the procedure. If you’re interested to know more about the intragastric balloon, feel free to get in touch with us and one of our patient coordinators will be in touch with you in no time!
2. Preparing for the procedure
During the consultation, you will receive all the pre-op instructions for you to follow before the procedure. These may include being on a liquid diet for a few days before. A diagnostic endoscopy might be performed to assess that it is safe to perform the procedure. Most patients are given a local anaesthetic (similar to a throat spray), but you will discuss with your doctor beforehand if you need to be sedated to be more comfortable during the procedure.
3. Placing the balloon
The doctor will insert the deflated balloon with an endoscope through your esophagus and into your stomach. The balloon is made of a soft and smooth silicone material to minimise the risk of irritating the stomach walls. It will then be filled with a sterile solution using a syringe until it reaches the size of a grapefruit. Lastly, the doctor will remove the endoscope. The balloon is now safely placed in your stomach, where it will stay for 6 months. You should be able to go home on the same day, depending on how you feel and what you agreed with the doctor earlier on.
4. Changing your lifestyle
Like for any bariatric procedure, intragastric balloon also requires your full commitment to changing your habits. This is fundamental to make the procedure successful. Changing your diet and exercise habits will help you not only lose weight but also keep it off. This procedure is meant to help you in the long run: during the six months that the balloon will stay in your stomach, you should fundamentally change the way you eat. Our team of professionals will give you all the necessary post-op guidelines, which may include portion eating and regular exercise.
5. Removing the balloon
After six months, the doctor will remove the gastric balloon by inserting the endoscope, deflating the balloon and pulling it out. This procedure will take around 20 minutes.
Intragastric balloon: Are there any side effects?
While a gastric balloon procedure is non-invasive, the following side effects are pretty common:
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain and cramps in your stomach
- Bad breath
These symptoms should subside in a few days. If they last longer than two weeks, you should contact your doctor.
An endoscopy is often an uncomfortable experience, which can also cause throat pain for a few days afterwards.
How much weight can you expect to lose with an intragastric balloon?
The intragastric balloon is only effective if patients commit to changing their lifestyle habits. These include following a diet and exercise programme that will help them not only lose weight but also maintain a newly discovered balanced diet and lifestyle. The balloon is ‘only’ a tool to aid weight loss.
We have seen that patients who successfully follow these guidelines lose from 10 to 20 kg in the first 6 months (sometimes even more). The most significant amount of weight loss happens in the first three months after the placement.
Can the gastric balloon leak or deflate inside the stomach?
This is a very rare event, but shall the balloon spontaneously deflate, you may no longer feel full sooner as you would expect. This can be checked via an X-ray and the balloon will have to be removed shortly after.
Intragastric Balloon at KCM Clinic
Intragastric balloons are a great non-surgical option if you need to lose excess weight. Our team of experienced professionals will be happy to assist you from start to finish: from our first consultation to discuss eligibility until planning your trip to the clinic, we’re here for you. We have successfully helped hundreds of patients get back control of their life, many of them traveling from other countries thanks to our competitive prices, virtually non-existent waiting lists, and high level of medical care. If you want to have a look at how much a gastric balloon costs, feel free to have a look at our full price list here.