Weight Loss Solutions

Gastric Balloon

Due to the specific nature of the balloon procedure, we have set up a specialist division to manage all of our balloon patients. Established in 2016 the Gastric Balloon Group has managed over 2500 balloon procedures with great success. 

.
Read More
Over 20 years experience in bariatric surgery
.
Read More
Lifelong psychological and nutritional support
Previous
Next

What is the gastric balloon?

The gastric balloon is a spherical device that is inserted into the stomach and then filled with saline (salt water). The average fill volume is between 450-600ml but this can vary from person to person. When filled it is about the size of a grapefruit and occupies about 60% of the space in your stomach. This leaves less room for food, helping you to reduce your portion size and keep you feeling satisfied for longer. 

Types of balloon

There are several types of gastric balloon but they all fall into two categories. Those that are swallowed in capsule form and those that are implanted under sedation via endoscopy.  

Whichever balloon device you choose, one of the biggest attractions is that it non surgical procedure so you do not require a general anaesthetic and have no wounds or surgical scars.  

The longest established type of gastric balloon implantation is endoscopy and devices have been implanted this way for over 20 years. There is a 6-month version and a longer-term 12-month version called the Orbera365TM. The Orbera balloon has been used safely across the world by over 300,000 people. 

The newest gastric balloon technology is the swallowable device which is tightly wrapped into a capsule and swallowed without the need for sedation. There is a 4-month version and a longer-term 10-month version called Allurion Plus+ which is a sequential programme meaning one balloon is placed after the other with a gap in between. 

How the balloon works in detail

You are taken into the radiology suite of the hospital where the doctor, this is usually a gastroenterologist or surgeon, will ask you to be seated then pass you the capsule to swallow. You will place the capsule, attached to a long thin tube, at the back of your tongue and with a glass of water, swallow the capsule until the doctor identifies it has reached the stomach. An Xray will be taken to confirm it is in the correct place. 

The doctor will gradually fill the balloon with 550ml saline (saltwater) and a further xray taken to check the position before the tube is pulled back out of the mouth.  

As you have not been sedated you can drive yourself home and after 10 minutes to check you are feeling well, you will be free to leave the clinic. The implantation process takes 15-20 minutes and you will be in clinic for approximately 40 minutes. 

You will have received a supply of medications to minimise sickness and to protect the wall of your stomach while the balloon is in place. 

During the period that the balloon is in place you need to focus on making changes to your diet and exercise habits so that you maximise your weight loss and adopt habits that can help sustain that after the balloon is removed. 

At approximately 16 weeks a self-release valve on the balloon will open and the harmless fluid will empty into the stomach. The thin balloon casing will pass through your system and exit, usually in a bowel movement. There is no need to return to the clinic for a repeat appointment. 

You are taken into the endoscopy suite of the hospital where the doctor, this is usually a gastroenterologist or surgeon, will sedate you for your comfort then inspect the inside of your stomach using a gastroscope. This is to make sure that the stomach wall is healthy and it is safe to proceed. 

Once this has been done, the empty balloon is fed into the stomach and filled with water. Once full the water tube is pulled back, separating from the balloon and forming a tight seal. The implantation process takes 15-20 minutes but you will be in hospital for 3-4hours. 

You will be kept in the recovery area for a short period to observe your recovery before you are discharged home. You will have received a supply of medications to minimise sickness and to protect the wall of your stomach while the balloon is in place. 

As you have been sedated you will not be able to drive yourself home. You will need to be accompanied home by a friend or family member. 

During the period that the balloon is in place you need to focus on making changes to your diet and exercise habits so that you maximise your weight loss and adopt habits that can help sustain that after the balloon is removed. 

Either 6 or 12 months later you will return to the hospital to have the balloon removed. This is done in much the same way as when the balloon was placed. You will again be sedated and using the gastroscope, the balloon will be punctured, emptied of fluid and then removed.

Am I eligible for the gastric Balloon?

There are many factors to consider for eligibility but providers generally offer the gastric balloon procedure to those with a minimum body mass index (BMI) of 27.

How much weight will I lose?

Our experience shows that a gastric balloon procedure typically results in a 1.5-2.5 stone weight loss over the first 6 months that the balloon is in place, although some have successfully lost much more. We expect 70-80% of your weight loss to happen in the first 3 months, after which your weight loss slows down or flattens and the balloon plays a more supportive role in helping you to maintain your new weight. 

The weight you lose will depend on your starting weight and how well you adapt to the new eating habits the balloon can encourage. There are no miracles in weight loss, as you well know, so it’s important to stay disciplined and focused for good long term results. This is why the nutritional and physical activity aspects of our support plan are so important for long term success. 

Gastric balloon success stories

What are the health benefits of the gastric balloon?

In addition to weight loss, gastric balloon patients can also experience any of the wide range of health benefits associated with weight loss. Improvements can be seen with the following conditions: 

  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • NAFLD (fatty liver) 
  • Hypertension 
  • Sleep apnoea 
  • Back pain and arthritis 
  • Self esteem 

What are the risks of gastric balloon?

In the hands of experts, the gastric balloon is a very safe and effective procedure and serious complications are uncommon. In a study of 714 balloon patients (Lopez et al*), implantation was successful in every case and overall complication rates were very low, but so that you have the full picture, we have included details of the risks and possible complications that could be experienced. The Gastric Balloon Group team will of course be on hand to provide you with guidance and support for any complications or side effects that you experience both during, and after the gastric balloon procedure.  

  • Stomach discomfort, cramping, nausea and vomiting – common side effects during the first few days following balloon placement 
  • A feeling of heaviness in the abdomen, abdominal or back pain is possible as your body adjusts to the presence of the balloon 
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux and indigestion have also been reported 
  • There is a theoretical risk, albeit extremely small, that the balloon could rupture and enter and obstruct the bowel. The main reason that the balloon is removed after a maximum of 12 months (with Orbera 365) is to minimise the risk of the balloon leaking and causing problems. 

The most common side effect is early sickness and nausea. We do all we can to help you through this period. There will however be a small proportion of people who decide they are unable or unwilling to carry on with the balloon. These early removals are usually done at the patient’s request but there may be rare occasions where your symptoms don’t settle and we encourage removal. We expect early removals due to intolerance in about 1 in every 20 people. 

It is most important that you stay hydrated in the early days after the balloon is placed.  

Gastric Balloon cost and finance

The fixed price of your gastric balloon will vary depending on several factors including your location, your specialist and any special treatment requirements that are identified at your consultation. 

The Gastric Balloon Group offers 2 finance packages to pay for your procedure. Click below to compare monthly payments. 

Aftercare

As the gastric balloon is a temporary procedure, the support you receive both whilst the balloon is in place and after it is removed, will determine your results. Without a structured programme to support you to make changes to your diet, and exercise habits, you are more likely to revert to bad habits and regain weight once the balloon is removed. 

Try to view the balloon as only part of the solution. This is why an expert support package is so important. The Gastric Balloon Group team have designed an aftercare package and Gastric Balloon App that is focused on you and your weight loss and will support you while the balloon is in place AND for 6 months after it is removed. As the largest gastric balloon provider in the UK and specialising only in gastric balloons, their highly experienced team are able to give you the reassurance and support you need to get the best outcome from your balloon journey.

4 month Allurion package includes: 

  • One swallowable Allurion balloon that self-deflates and passes at 16 weeks 
  • 10 months expert aftercare support 
  • Access to Gastric Balloon Group App 
  • Set of digital scales and activity tracker 

10 month Allurion Plus+ package includes: 

  • Two swallowable Allurion balloons placed one after the other with a 2 month gap in between. Each balloon self-deflates and passes at 16 weeks 
  • 16 months expert aftercare support 
  • Access to Gastric Balloon Group App 
  • Set of digital scales and activity tracker 

6 month BIB balloon package includes: 

  • Implantation of balloon via endoscopy under sedation and removal in the same way at 6 months 
  • 12 months expert aftercare support 
  • Access to Gastric Balloon Group App 
  • Set of digital scales 

12 month Orbera365 balloon package includes: 

  • Implantation of balloon via endoscopy under sedation and removal in the same way at 12 months 
  • 18 months expert aftercare support 
  • Access to Gastric Balloon Group App 
  • Set of digital scales 

 

Common FAQs

If you work with the rules of the balloon it is a very successful weight loss tool. Most patients lose 1.5 – 2.5 stones in weight although this of course is very individual. It will only work if you take on board the recommended dietary and behavioural changes. 

Experience shows that approximately 70-80% of your total weight loss will be lost in the first 3 months. After that, weight loss slows down and the gastric balloon plays a more supportive role in helping you maintain your weight whilst you continue to adapt to new nutrition and exercise habits.

The first three to five days can be very difficult. Cramping, nausea and vomiting are normal and should be expected. It is very important that you follow the Gastric Balloon Group instructions and drink plenty of fluids. You will be prescribed medications to ease the discomfort. Serious complications are very rare. 

The balloon has been used in over 300,000 procedures and leaks are extremely rare occurrences. The Allurion and Allurion Plus+ balloons are designed to pass naturally so rupture would not pose any health risk. With the endoscopic BIB and Orbera365 balloons, if the device was to rupture it would require removal. To identify rupture, the fluid inside the BIB and Orbera365 balloons is coloured blue so if a leak were to occur the fluid would empty into your bladder and the urine expelled would be blue in colour. It is highly unlikely that the balloon would deflate in the stomach but if it did you would contact the Gastric Balloon Group team who would arrange for the balloon to be removed.  

You should plan at least three days of inactivity to recover from the procedure. You will be able to resume normal activity sooner or later than this depending on how your body adjusts to the intragastric balloon.

References

*Scientific Reference Lopez-Nava G, Rubio MA et al.  Bioenterics Intragastric Balloon (BIB).  Single Ambulatory Centre Spanish Experience with 714 Consecutive Patients treated with One or Two Consecutive Balloons.  Obes Surg 2010.  Published Online 20th March

Picture of Mr Rishi Singhal MBBS, MRCS, FRCS, MD

Mr Rishi Singhal MBBS, MRCS, FRCS, MD

Mr Singhal is an expert bariatric surgeon based in the West Midlands and also Medical Director at Healthier Weight

Get a FREE consultation by calling
0800 3134618 
or
Get a quote 
We use cookies on our website to give you the most relevant experience by remembering your preferences and repeat visits. Your personal data will be used for the personalization of ads and cookies may be used for personalized and non-personalized advertising. By clicking “Accept All”, you consent to the use of ALL the cookies. However, you may visit “Cookie Settings” to provide a controlled consent.  Read our cookies policy here