How Do Gastric Balloons Work? All Your Questions Answered.

Orbera is an FDA-approved procedure that almost 300,000 people have undergone worldwide to. NuBody Concepts in Nashville, TN, helps patients achieve weight loss with this proven gastric balloon treatment.

Why a Gastric Balloon?

The word “gastric balloon” can be confusing. Some people mistake it for “gastric bypass” or comparable forms of intragastric surgery. A better term for it is “weight-loss balloon.” It helps you lose weight and keep it off afterwards, 3x better than dieting or exercise alone.

The placement (and removal) of a gastric or weight-loss 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.

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:

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.

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.

How is the gastric balloon placed in my stomach

The deflated balloon is placed in the stomach endoscopically without any incisions. After insertion it is filled with saline. The best way to understand how the balloon is placed into (and removed from the) stomach is to watch this brief video:

How does the balloon help me lose weight?

The balloon takes up space in your stomach and slows down your digestion, with the effect that you feel hungry less often and are sated much faster after eating. This translates into smaller portion sizes and reduced snacking.

What makes this treatment work so well is that during their six months of treatment, patients learn to adapt to healthier portion sizes. If you’ve tried any diets before, you know how hard it is to resist the urge to eat. If only you could remove that urge! Well, with Orbera, that is precisely what happens.

It’s important to know that you’re not alone when undergoing this treatment. After the placement of a balloon, a NuBody Concepts team member provides monthly coaching support for the first 6 months while the balloon is in place. This sets you up for long-term success so that after the balloon is removed, you’ll continue your new habits and keep off the weight.

Want to get started? Call us now to schedule a consultation!

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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.

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.

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.”

Orbera patient lost 64 lbs with gastric balloon weight loss treatment
Orbera patient lost 64 lbs with the Orbera Weight-Loss Balloon program

Who is a good candidate for a gastric balloon?

If you’ve tried diet and exercise and are still above your target weight, a gastric balloon might be a great way for you to shed those pounds. Most patients lose between 20-50 lbs with an Orbera treatment.

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 slightly above (41-42) that range. A personal consultation with your doctor is advised.

“Before, I would eat until I was stuffed, but now I can tell the difference between being satisfied and being overly full.”

Rafael, lost 45 lbs with Orbera

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? Call us now to schedule a consultation!

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