How Do Gastric Balloons Work? All Your Questions Answered.

The word “gastric balloon” can be confusing. Some people mistake it for “gastric bypass” or comparable forms of intragastric surgery.

But the placement (and removal) of a gastric balloon does not require surgery. It is a minimally-invasive procedure, typically performed at an outpatient clinic under IV sedation. It does not involve any incisions or stitches, and there is virtually no downtime other than the 30 minutes it takes to insert (and remove) the balloon.

What is a Gastric Balloon?

The gastric balloon is a non-surgical alternative to bypass surgery. In a 20-30 minute procedure, a doctor places a grapefruit-sized balloon in the patient’s stomach where it resides for 6 months. Over the course of this time, the balloon slows down the digestion and thereby drastically reduces any feelings of hunger. This helps patients control their portion sizes and eating habits, and for the vast majority of people this translates into substantial long-term weight loss.

Essentially, gastric balloons act like a huge assist to anyone who is dieting to lose weight. If you’ve tried diets before, you’ll know how extremely difficult it is to ignore the hunger pangs. But what if those hunger pangs were to disappear? You’d be much better able to follow through with your diet! That is exactly why gastric balloons like Orbera have proven to be so effective.

Below, Orbera patient Lindsey explains why her “ingenious” gastric balloon was the only thing that worked for her, when so many other dieting plans had failed:

But are these balloons safe? Are there any side effects? Would you be a good candidate?

Read on. We have answers to all your gastric balloon questions.

What happens if the Orbera Balloon ruptures in the stomach?

It happens only rarely, but the balloon could indeed rupture. This means that the saline solution it is filled with would leak into the stomach, which is harmless. However, you would no longer feel full after eating, as the balloon would no longer do its job. Your doctor would have to remove the deflated balloon and replace it with another one.

How permanent are the results? Won’t I simply gain all the weight back after 6 months?

Studies have shown that a large number of gastric balloon patients maintain their weight loss through dieting post-removal. The key is to stick to your new, healthy lifestyle that you will have learned through your six months of “training.”

Are gastric balloons safe?

Gastric balloons are FDA-approved and have been around for over 20 years. The placement and removal does not involve surgery and can be done in a brief, minimally-invasive procedure under IV sedation. Should a balloon rupture (an extremely rare event), it wouldn’t be harmful in any form.

Are there any side effects from the placement of the balloon?

Initially, the placement of the balloon can cause nausea. This is a very normal reaction, and in most patients it passes quickly. Our surgeon typically prescribes medication to counteract any nausea that might occur.

Who is a good candidate for a gastric balloon?

Any adult who can commit to a 6-month medically supervised program is qualified. BMIs (Body Mass Index) between 30 and 40 are ideal, although it can also work for people outside that range. A personal consultation with your doctor is advised.

What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?

BMIs over 30 are generally considered obese. Use our BMI Calculator to find your BMI.

BMIs of 40 or more generally qualify as morbid obesity. However, the BMI is only an approximation. The BMI does not distinguish between muscle and fat, which means it may not work so well for body-builders and athletes.

Why wouldn’t I simply do a diet for weight loss, rather than the gastric balloon and a diet?

The average person loses about 3x more weight with Orbera than with diet and exercise alone. The reason for this is that by taking up space in your stomach, the balloon also takes away your feeling of constant hunger. This teaches you to adapt to smaller portion sizes, without the hunger pangs.

Most patients experience drastic weight loss in just 1-2 months after placement of the balloon. This early success makes it more comfortable to exercise, which again helps with additional weight loss.

Want to learn more and/or speak with a surgeon? Contact Us to call or schedule n appointment.

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