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 500 balloon procedures with great success.

Gastric balloon

By Mr Rishi Singhal MBBS, MRCS, FRCS, MD

Last review: 10/06/2020. All content on this page is reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team lead by Mr Rishi Singhal.

What is the gastric balloon?

The gastric balloon is a small silicone balloon that is filled with saline (salt water). When filled it is about the size of a small orange and occupies about half of your stomach. The balloon is usually filled with between 450 and 600ml but this can vary from person to person.

Types of balloon

There are several types of gastric balloon. The longest established type of gastric balloon is called the Orbera. This device has been in use for over 20 years. There is a 6 month version and a longer term 12 month version called the Orbera 365. The Orbera balloon has been used safely across the world in over 250,000 people.

  • One of the attractions of the balloon is that it is a non surgical procedure. As such you not require a general anaesthetic.
  • The balloon is placed and removed during a short hospital visit - usually you'll be with us for about 3 hours only.
  • It is an endoscopic procedure which means that it is done through the mouth. Unlike surgery, there is no cutting of the stomach.

You are sedated, for your comfort, and taken into the endoscopy suite of the hospital where the doctor, this is usually a gastroenterologist or surgeon, will 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 we pull the water tube back and it separates from the balloon forming a seal. The whole processes takes no more than 10-15 minutes.

We will keep you in the recovery area for a short period to observe your recovery before discharging you to go home. We’ll send you home with a supply of pain and sickness relief and als medicine to protect the wall of your stomach while the balloon is in place.

In the period after your balloon is placed you need to plan for the following:

  • 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.
  • We encourage you to plan for at least 48-72 hours of inactivity after the procedure
  • The first few days following balloon placement can be uncomfortable while the stomach adjusts. Nausea, cramps and vomiting are possible side effects, but can be treated. stay in close contact with our nursing team and we will help you through this period. The symptoms should subside after a few days.
  • You will be restricted to a liquid diet for the first 3 days

During the period that the balloon is in place you need to focus on making changes to you diet and exercise habits so that you maximise your weight loss and adopt habits that can jhelp sustain that after thge 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 then we feed the gastroscope into your stomach. We then puncture the balloon and suck the water out. The empty balloon is then removed.

Am I eligible?

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 2-3 stone weight loss over the first 6 months that the balloon is in place, although some have successfully lost as 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
  • 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. We 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 that the balloon could rupture and enter the bowel. If this occurred it would usually pass through the bowel and be expelled naturally but there is a risk, albeit extremely small, that the ruptured balloon could 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.

 

Our gastric balloon division 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 our support package is so important. We support you while the balloon is in place AND for 6 months after it is removed. Our team has a combined experience of over 100 years supporting balloon patients. This team will give you the reassurance and support you need to get the best from your balloon experience. With no unnecessary gimmicks, we are focused on you and your weight loss, and that is how we designed the package.

6 month Orbera balloon package includes:

  • 12 months support
  • Long term follow up call schedule

12 month Orbera balloon package includes:

  • 18 months support
  • Long term follow up call schedule

Common FAQs

If you work with the rules of the balloon it is a very successful weight loss tool. Most patients lose up to 2 ½ to 3 stones in weight. It will only work if you take on board the dietary and behavioural changes that are recommended.

Experience of our own patients 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 Healthier Weight instructions and drink plenty of fluids. You may be prescribed medications to ease the discomfort. Serious complications are very rare.

The balloon has been used in over 227,000 procedures and leaks are extremely rare occurrences. The fluid inside the balloon is coloured blue and if there is a leak the fluids 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 be alerted by the urine discolouration. The deflated balloon itself would pass through the large bowel and expel itself in your bowel movement. If your urine became bright blue in colour we would ask you to contact us. Occasionally the deflated balloon may require removal by a physician. 

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

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

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