A gastric balloon is simply a flexible balloon filled with 400 to 700 milliliters of saline solution and is generally made of soft silicone. Gastric balloon induction is a relatively novel system created to contribute to weight loss. As with other obesity surgeries, gastric ballon operation is performed only after you have tried to lose weight through exercise or diet and have failed. The procedure entails placing a saline-filled silicone balloon into your abdomen and the balloon can float freely within your belly.

The induction of the ballon is done utilizing a medical endoscope which is a flexible device with a light and camera on its top that enables the surgeon to see inside your stomach. The operation takes about 20 to 25 minutes. Before the operation, a diagnostic endoscopy is performed. If no peculiarity is detected, the balloon is placed into your stomach and filled with a blue liquid by a filling tube attached to the balloon, and then the process is completed.

The whole operation is performed under anesthesia. Gastric balloons are found in 2 different types. There are balloons designed to stay 6 months and designed to stay 12 months in the abdomen. The latter can be inflated with 3-month intervals to avoid the adaptation of the stomach to the balloon while the former is not adjustable. But the ballon generally stays in the stomach for 6 months and then it starts to shrink gradually. In such an occurrence, the balloon must be removed to prevent any complications.

The removing process of the balloon is done by using an endoscope. The ballon is deflated, held and removed with a handle. After that, it is passed down a tube and then taken out through the mouth. During the removal procedure, patients may take sedative pills or anesthesia.

The operation is mostly favored by people due to its easiness of application and its being a very effective method in losing weight. The balloon acts as a space-filler which causes early satiety and in the long run, leads to a feeling of fullness with fewer food portions. In brief, it restricts the amount of food obese patients can consume by helping them feel full a lot quicker and easier. This also lowers the risk of any potential health problems related to your weight such as obstructive sleep apnea, reflux, heart diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, etc.

Gastric balloon operation does not require surgery, as is the case with other obesity surgery procedures, so the use of the gastric balloon to lose weight before turning to a bigger surgery may help reducing surgical risks associated with overweight.

As obesity surgeries are major operations, they are not suitable for every individual who is overweight. One must first meet certain guidelines to be eligible for a weight-loss operation. They also must be eager to make permanent changes to lead a more salutary lifestyle because they may be asked to engage in long-term follow-up programs that comprise monitoring their diet, lifestyle, habits, and medical conditions. In the pre-operative stage, eating and drinking habits of patients, their lifestyle, and the existence of other health complications are taken into consideration.

Here are some prerequisites for being eligible for gastric balloon operation:

  • The surgery may be an alternative for you if you have a body mass index is between 30 and 40.
  • If you have not had any stomach or esophageal surgery before
  • You must have a complete understanding and adaptability and be coordinative with the medical team in the post-operative period.
  • You must not have a condition preventing the surgical operation.
  • You must be at the ages of between 18 and 60

If you qualify for the surgery and have a gastric balloon placed in your abdomen, you will be given specific instructions by the health care team on how to get prepared for your operation. You may be required to undergo some lab tests. For instance: a complete physical exam, blood tests, and such to make sure you are healthy enough to undergo the operation. You may also be required to visit other health care providers to make sure if you have any medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart, or lung problems. They may offer you lessons to help you learn about the operation and the potential problems that may occur afterward. You may also be asked to start a physical activity program. Additionally, you may be instructed to limit what you eat, drink, smoke, and which medications to take. Your consumption of alcohol does not have a significant effect on the gastric balloon but it may cause heartburn and so will not help you lose weight.

Like other weight-loss procedures, gastric balloon operation requires a commitment to a better and healthier lifestyle. After the procedure is done, you will be given some instructions and bits of advice on how to lead a healthier life. You must follow them all until the recovery period is over. You need to do regular exercise to help ensure the long-term success of the procedure and follow the specific diet plan you will be given. Most of these dietary plans consist only of liquids for the first three days to prevent dehydration and maintain energy levels. Later, patients can start eating mashed food until the 10th day. And after that, they can start to eat solid food.

How much weight you will lose after the operation varies depending on your applying necessary diet adjustments. The results of the patients indicate that it is possible to lose 13 to 15 kilograms in 4 months. However, if you follow your specific diet, you can lose weight up to 25 and 30 kilograms.

As with other bariatric surgery operations, gastric balloon possesses several hazards. So, before having the operation, you must talk to your surgeon about the potential pros and cons of the procedure and side effects that may arise. For example, pain, vomiting, and nausea are common problems after the insertion of the gastric balloon. However, the symptoms disappear after the first 2 or 3 days and they can easily be handled with proper medication. The doctor already prescribes those medications before discharge from the hospital to avoid such occurrences. In some patients, the balloon can leak. To detect it, the balloon is filled with a saline solution containing a blue dye, if the urine changes to blue, this means that there is a leakage in the balloon. In such a case, you need to contact your doctor immediately and get the balloon removed or checked endoscopically. Although rare, there may also be other complications such as acid reflux, indigestion, overinflation, acute pancreatitis, ulcers, or a hole in the stomach wall, which might be fixed with another surgery.