In an effort to help reduce hunger, gastric balloon surgery helps patients shed extra pounds and helps them keep it off. In terms of weight loss surgery options, this one offers a safer, faster and easier recovery process than many others. It also can be used to lose enough weight to endure gastric banding or bypass surgery. It has been proven to be an effective tool for treating obesity. The surgery is outpatient and takes only 20 to 30 minutes.
Typically patients with a body mass index (BMI) of over 32 are eligible. This procedure will help you achieve weight loss and also can help treat other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea or Type II Diabetes. Experts believe that the use of a balloon can dramatically decrease the risks associated with weight loss surgical procedures in overweight or obese patients.
A surgeon will first examine your stomach to ensure that there are no abnormalities. If everything looks go, they will proceed with the balloon installation. During this surgical procedure, an inflated gastric balloon is placed into the stomach which contains saline. This is typically done using a thin flexible telescope (endoscope) through the mouth. A surgeon most likely will use a numbing throat spray to help the patient feel more comfortable.
Once the balloon is inside the stomach, it is then filled with a sterile saline solution through a filling tube. Once it is filled completely, the surgeon will remove the tube; the balloon itself has a self-sealing valve and now the balloon will float freely in the stomach. The balloon itself is a silicone soft sac. It makes the patient feel full so they are not hungry often. The sac is removed six months later, which typically gives the patient long enough to learn portion control and gives them a jumpstart on weight loss.
Over time the body’s acidic content, especially in the stomach, will weaken the strength of the balloon; this is why the balloon isn’t typically kept for longer than six months. The balloon may also be replaced if the process seems to be working, but the patient needs more time to lose weight. This is typically the result of someone who is severely obese and needs a gastric bypass and is deemed too heavy to have the surgery safely.
With any surgical procedure, there is always the chance of complications. Some of the most common complications for this minimally-invasive procedure are minor bleeding, pain and nausea and vomiting. Others include abdominal pain, dizziness, indigestion and a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen.
Patients almost always go home the same day as the outpatient surgery. This is only if there are no adverse effects to the balloon. During the first few weeks, patients will be on a strict diet. Typically, patients can go back to work after a few days depending on how their stomach is adjusting to the balloon being there.
The first week after gastric balloon surgery patients will be on an all-liquid diet. Typically doctors will want patients to increase their water intake which also can aid weight loss and helps keep you feeling full. After a week of all liquids, a dietician or nutritionist will create a meal plan where the patients can begin eating some solids. The program will focus on calorie restrictions that feel the body, give it the energy and nutrient it needs, but also helps the patient lose weight. Each plan is different depending on the patient’s individual health and weight loss goals.