Medically reviewed by Dr. John Rosdeutscher – Written by Sine Thieme
Choosing a doctor for your gastric balloon procedure is a little different than choosing, say, a plastic surgeon for a cosmetic procedure. Weight-loss intragastric balloons can be placed in a cosmetic surgery practice by a plastic surgeon, but more likely you may find an endoscopic or bariatric surgeon who is experienced in the procedure. Or a general surgeon at a weight-loss center may also have trained in the procedure.
Whichever surgeon you choose, it is important to take your time to research the particular practice, ask to view previous patient cases that are similar in scope to yours, and read the most recent patient reviews.
In this article we will attempt to offer a few suggestions and things to consider when choosing your surgeon for a gastric balloon.
Board Certification In Surgery or Internal Medicine
When choosing a bariatric surgeon, it is important to look for someone who has experience with the placement and removal of intragastric balloons, such as the ORBERA balloon or the Obalon balloon system. A board-certified general surgeon may be more qualified after performing hundreds of balloon placements than a bariatric surgeon who strictly performs gastric bypass surgery. Take the time to find a surgeon that best suits your needs and has the level of expertise you feel comfortable with.
While having performed many routine gastric balloon placements should be the main thing you are looking for when choosing the right gastric balloon surgeon, you will also want to look at his or her professional standards. Board certification is a good indicator to assess if your doctor subjects himself to continuous training and safety protocols. Ensuring that your surgeon is board-certified and a member of the American Board of Internal Medicine or the American Board of Surgery is a good way to identify if he or she is a good choice to perform your intragastric balloon placement.
Coaching Support During Weight Loss Therapy
Weight loss therapy with a gastric balloon is more than just a medical procedure. It is a 6-month process that requires you to adhere to all elements of the program to ensure your ultimate success.
Apollo, the maker of the Orbera Gastric Balloon, offers an optional and comprehensive aftercare program. It gives you an app with tools and resources to assist you in keeping off the weight after your balloon placement. You will have access to educational resources and hundreds of recipe suggestions. It also connects you with a registered dietician who offers direct support in 12 one-on-one monthly sessions to help you with your food choices and work on portion control. Studies show that success rates of weight loss programs are higher when there is coaching support.
Whether or not you opt into Apollo Care, NuBody Concepts will also provide you with a Patient Care Manager who will follow up with you on a monthly basis. She will help you monitor your weight loss to make sure you are on track for your goals. This is easily accomplished via video conference or phone call to cut down on multiple office visits and extra travel for you.
Getting Familiar with the Weight-Loss Center
A Consultation With a Gastric Surgeon
The placement and removal of the balloon are one part of your weight loss experience. Both procedures are performed outpatient in under 30 minutes. Your main interaction with the surgeon will be prior to the procedure during a personal consultation. You will discuss your weight loss goals as well as general risk factors of endoscopy and your specific medical history, which might pose other risk factors the surgeon will need to evaluate. A first sign to look for is whether you will actually meet the surgeon performing your procedure or with a medical consultant. You might beware of free consultations – they are not always with the actual surgeon. Make sure you ask before going in.
Such a consultation is a good way to find out if your gastric surgeon is capable. You will be able to ascertain how many balloons he has placed, view before and after pictures of his own patients, and assess his action plan for you specifically. Most of all, you will know if you feel comfortable with his or her bedside manner so that you will not feel anxious during your procedures.
Below are questions you could ask during your consultation.
Questions to Ask Your Surgeon
- How did you train in the weight loss procedure I am considering?
- How many years have you been performing endoscopic balloon placements?
- How many times have you performed this particular procedure?
- Can I view any before and afters of gastric balloon patients?
Taking a Virtual Tour
If you don’t feel quite ready for an in-person consultation with a gastric surgeon, a virtual consultation is a good substitute. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many doctors now offer virtual access that was previously unheard of – take advantage of it! This also lets you explore options farther away from your place of residence. Make sure to ask if they offer any travel packages for the actual procedure.
Whether in-person or virtual, you want to make sure you feel comfortable with the staff and doctor. Again, you will interact with a weight loss coach beyond the actual balloon procedure.
Before your visit, take a virtual tour of the clinic if available. We invite you to take a virtual tour of the NuBody Concepts cosmetic surgery and weight loss center in Nashville:
Facility Safety Standards
Your safety during your procedure depends in large part on the anesthetist and the operating facility. Again, having an experienced surgeon and staff of registered nurses and/or nurse anesthetists is imperative to ensure your safety during surgery. Ensuring that the clinic is clean and professional as well as run by a friendly and knowledgeable staff is equally important.
During your consultation or any time before your surgery, you might ask yourself these questions:
Things to Look for in a Weight Loss Center
- Do I feel comfortable when speaking on the phone with their staff?
- How am I greeted when entering the office?
- Is my appointment on time and is everything well organized?
- Is the doctor/nurse/medical consultant friendly as well as knowledgeable?
- Do they take time to answer all of my questions?
Getting Started With Your Gastric Balloon
After you have gone through the above steps and identified the surgeon you would like to choose, your next step is to discuss pricing and payment options. It is important to never choose a surgeon based on price alone – your safety and end results are more important. In many cases, cosmetic surgeons offer financing options to help you budget procedure costs. Also make sure to compare apples to apples – is the price quoted all-inclusive, and does it cover both the placement and removal of the balloon, with additional coaching support?
We hope that we’ve given you a better understanding of how to choose a gastric balloon surgeon. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions.
If you are ready to get started, simply self-schedule a consultation with our Nashville Cosmetic Surgery and Weight Loss Center.