Is Gastric Balloon Right for Me? 5 FAQs Answered
A Minimally-Invasive Advance
Since being first offered to patients in 1985, gastric balloon has become a viable and highly successful weight loss procedure.  There’s a lot that sets this approach apart, but most notably, unlike gastric bypass or sleeve, it doesn’t permanently alter anatomy and is completely reversible. As such—and what makes it particularly appealing—it doesn’t require surgery, so it’s well-tolerated.
As with all of these procedures, though, it’s important to learn as much as you can about it. Since some confusion does surround gastric balloon and all weight loss procedures, we’ve answered five frequently asked questions about it. Check it out:
1. Who Chooses Gastric Balloon?
Gastric balloon, like all weight loss procedures, are intended for those who are morbidly obese. This is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of between 30 and 40.  BMI is a measure of fat versus muscle mass in a person, so, for reference, a person who is 5’ 10” and 250 pounds, would have a BMI of 35.9. Obese patients with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and/or a history of heart disease or stroke may also find this or other weight loss surgery procedures recommended to them.
Notably, this is not a permanent procedure—after six months the balloon or balloons are removed—so those considering the procedure need to be willing to make permanent changes to lifestyle and stick to them long-term.
2. How Does It Work?
The balloons themselves are made of a specialized silicone filled with a saline solution. When these are in the stomach, they limit the amount of food that can be digested. This, in turn, sets up the conditions for weight loss; patients feel full faster and don’t eat as much. When paired with physical exercise and dietary changes, this results in relatively rapid and sustainable weight loss. The balloons are in place for six months and then removed. By that point, patients are expected to lose 10-15 percent of total body weight, which is a much better than non-medical approaches. 
3. What’s the Procedure Like?
The beauty of gastric balloon—and what makes it particularly appealing—is that the procedure does not alter anatomy in any way. This is in contrast to gastric bypass or others, which involve surgically reshaping the size and shape of the stomach or other relevant anatomy. Depending on the specific approach decided upon, one or more balloons are placed into position in the stomach with no actual surgery. Placement is usually done endoscopically—using a special rigid tube—and the balloons are filled with saline solution.  After six months, the gastric balloon or balloons are similarly removed, and both procedures are relatively quick, taking only 30 minutes.
4. What Are The Advantages?
As noted above, people are particularly drawn to the fact that these are a temporary means to kick start weight loss. In addition, since no actual surgery is required, recovery is easy. Not only that, where those who’ve had weight loss surgery have to undergo very intense eating restrictions in the first six or so weeks following treatment, those with the balloon don’t require it. That said, for the procedure to work, you do need to emphasize a healthier diet. Gastric balloon is highly effective in achieving weight loss and allows people time to develop the kinds of habits that will keep those extra pounds off.
5. Do Patients Like It?
Importantly, most every study conducted has found the gastric balloon to have a very, very low rate of complication, with most treatments being reported as successful in achieving significant weight loss. In one study, about 95 percent of patients reported satisfaction with the procedure, and over 97 percent would recommend it to others.  In rare cases, patients find the amount of weight loss to be not enough, and sometimes there are negative, though manageable, side-effects such as nausea, heartburn, and abdominal pain. Largely, though, this a well-tolerated procedure.
What gastric balloon allows those looking to lose weight is some measure of control. In many ways, the human body is programmed to slow down weight loss as much as possible, so achieving sustainable results without medical help is very difficult. And while a weight loss procedure is only the first step, it does help ensure actual and sustainable success. No matter what, though, the payoff—a longer, healthier life—is worth it.
If you’re interested in learning more about gastric balloon or other weight loss procedures, a Patient Care Manager at Evolve can help. The experts at these outpatient clinics have helped countless people achieve real, sustainable weight loss results. Find out more about what they do by calling 469-638-0209 today!
- “Intragastric Balloon – Mayo Clinic”. 2018. Org. Accessed December 21 2018. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/intragastric-balloon/about/pac-20394435.
- Mitura, Kryspin, and Karolina Garnysz. 2015. “Tolerance Of Intragastric Balloon And Patient’S Satisfaction In Obesity Treatment”. Videosurgery And Other Miniinvasive Techniques3: 445-449. Termedia Sp. z.o.o. doi:10.5114/wiitm.2015.54047.