Intragastric Balloon

1 What is an Intragastric Balloon?

A new kind of weight-loss procedure is called intragastric balloon that can help you lose weight by limiting how much you eat.

This procedure will make you feel fuller faster and a saline-filled silicone balloon will be used to place in your stomach. If diet and exercise did not work and if you are obese or overweight, this procedure may be an option.

This procedure requires a full commitment to a healthier lifestyle and you have to make permanent healthy changes in the way you eat as well as in your daily activities such as exercising regularly so that it can have long-term success.

2 Reasons for Procedure

Here are the most common reasons to undergo an intragastric balloon procedure.

This procedure can help you lose weight and if you lose weight it can lower your risk of certain weight-related problems such as:

You should try first to have a diet and exercise regularly, and if those two does not work, your doctor may recommend this procedure. Intragastric balloon may be an option for you if:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is between 30 and 40.
  • You have not had any previous esophageal or stomach surgery.
  • You are willing to commit to healthy lifestyle changes and regular checkups and if you are going to participate in behavioral therapy.

Your doctor will first screen you because this is not the right choice for everyone. The cost for placing and removing the gastric balloon is not usually covered by health insurance so you need to consult your health insurance company.

3 Potential Risks

There are risks for intragastric balloon procedure but very rare.

About one-third of people may feel pain and nausea after the insertion of the balloon but this may only last for a few days and they can be treated with oral medication that your doctor may prescribed. 

It is possible that the balloon will deflate and if this happens it could move to your digestive system leading to blockage. Ulcers or perforation may also be possible risks for this procedure.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

Your doctor will give you instructions on how to prepare for your procedure if you are going to have an intragastric balloon placed in your stomach.

You may undergo some lab tests and exams before the procedure and you might need restrictions on food and medications.

Your doctor may also suggest that you start a physical activity program.

5 What to Expect

Here’s what you can expect before, during, and after your intragastric balloon procedure.

This procedure is done as an outpatient and in the endoscopy unit. Your doctor will push a catheter that has the intragastric balloon down your throat into your stomach.

Then he will advance a flexible tube with a camera – this will allow your doctor to check the balloon as he fills it with saline – attached (endoscope) down your throat into your stomach.

You can go home after several hours because this is done about half an hour. You will be on a liquid diet. You will first have small amounts of liquid six hours after the procedure than on liquid diet until the second week then you will be allowed to eat soft foods.

Around three weeks, your doctor will advise that you can eat regular foods. The balloon will be on your stomach for about 6 months and then your doctor will remove it by the use of an endoscope.

After the procedure, you will have regular follow-up visits with your psychologist and nutritionist.

6 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your intragastric balloon results, consult with your doctor.

You will eat less after the procedure because you may feel fuller faster than you normally would. The intragastric balloon change levels of a hormone that control appetite and it slows down the time it takes to empty the stomach.

How much you can change your lifestyle habits is the amount of weight you lose. During six months after the procedure, you will typically lose about 10 to 15 percent of body weight.

In a randomized clinical trial with 255 adults with a BMI between 30 and 40, people who had the intragastric balloon procedure along with behavioral therapy lost 29 percent of their excess weight, compared to 14 percent in a group that received behavioral therapy alone.

This procedure may improve or resolve other conditions that are related to being overweight such as:

If you do not follow the recommended lifestyle changes, you will not lose weight or you will regain weight.

7 Related Clinical Trials