What is a gastric balloon device?
A gastric balloon is an inflatable device that is placed in the stomach in order to aid weight loss. The gastric balloon is made from silicone and filled with saline before it is placed in the stomach. The balloon induces a sensation of fullness or “satiety” in patients and help them lose weight by limiting the amount of food they are able to eat. This assisted weight loss device is REVERSIBLE and does not involve surgery.
When is a gastric balloon device used?
A gastric balloon may be considered by patients who are overweight or obese. It is often an effective option for patients who are overweight and suffer from weight-related problems, such as sleep apnoea, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. The procedure is generally recommended in cases where lifestyle changes like diet and exercise have been unsuccessful.
What does the procedure involve?
Before the procedure, you will have a consultation with the gastroenterologist for a preliminary evaluation and a discussion of the procedure and what it entails. During this interview, your eligibility for this procedure will be assessed. You will also learn about the program and the other team members: dietician, fitness team and occasionally a psychiatrist. The dietician will discuss the diet pre-procedure and after the procedure. The fitness team will assess your current activity level, advise on how to improve your fitness and develop an individualised fitness programme following the procedure.
During the procedure, after receiving a deep sedation by a sedation practitioner, the gastroenterologist will perform an initial gastroscopy to assess the stomach and decide on the ideal location for placement of the balloon. He will then insert a catheter with the balloon attached down your throat, and guide it into your stomach. The balloon will be observed under direct endoscopic vision while it is being filled with saline. it is filled with saline. After the procedure a specific dietary protocol will be recommended and food will be gradually and cautiously re-introduced as your stomach adjusts to the presence of the balloon.
During the first few days you will almost certainly feel uncomfortable due to the presence of the inflated balloon in the stomach. Nausea, bloating, diarrhoea and abdominal cramping are common and temporary side-effects. Nausea can be managed by anti-emetics and cramping can be soothed with antispasmodics. Usually the body adapts to the balloon and side-effects improve over time.
The amount of weight you lose depends on how well you tolerate the balloon and how well you adapt to the lifestyle changes related to eating and exercise.
Gastric balloons are typically left in place for around six months, after which time they are removed endoscopically. It is important to commit to a healthy, balanced diet following the procedure to ensure the long-term success of the gastric balloon.