The gastric balloon is a soft, silicon balloon that is inserted into the stomach and filled with sterile saline. It is designed to partially fill your stomach, giving you the feeling of fullness and make you feel less hungry. This type of weight loss treatment can help you lose weight without invasive surgery.
Gastric balloon surgery is an endoscopic procedure and generally takes about twenty to thirty minutes to perform. You will be sedated but not asleep whilst a deflated balloon is inserted into the stomach directly through the mouth and oesophagus. Once the balloon is in the correct position it is inflated with saline through a valve.
You will usually be able to go home the same day, or the day after the balloon has been inserted and you will have follow up appointments with your doctor and dietician.
The first few days after the procedure are generally uncomfortable until the stomach becomes used to the presence of the intra-gastric balloon and it is common for many patients to experience nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhoea and cramping until their body completely adjusts.
Following a procedure, you will be restricted to a liquid only diet for the first three days, ie. water, juice, milk, thin soup etc. Gradually your ability to tolerate most types of food should improve, although the volume of food you are able to consume in one intake should be substantially reduced whilst the balloon is in place, providing that the appropriate dietary guidelines are followed.
You will be advised to take a specific amount of recovery time away from work, dependent on the type of work you perform. It is usual to take around a week off and to refrain from any strenuous exercise for at least eight weeks following surgery.
Inserting a gastric balloon is a commonly performed and generally safe procedure.
In a small number of cases, patients may not be able to tolerate the balloon for the full six month period and when this happens, it will need to be removed early.
On rare occasions the balloon can deflate and/or migrate through the stomach and into the intestines. This can lead to an erosion or obstruction of the stomach or intestine, which would require urgent corrective surgery.