The gastric balloon (also known as the intra-gastric balloon) is a well-established temporary weight-loss device. It is placed in your stomach using a gastroscope and left for 6 or 12 months, taking up space and making you feel fuller much quicker than usual. The balloon also slows down the rate at which your stomach empties, therefore maintaining the sensation of fullness for a longer period of time.
Common questions about the Gastric Balloon
Q: Is the gastric balloon right for me?
If you have a BMI between 27 and 35, then the gastric balloon may be an appropriate weight-loss solution for you. Our specialists will always talk to you about the options available and the benefits and disadvantages of each.
If you have undergone previous gastric surgery or have a hiatus hernia, then we would usually advise you to look towards an alternative weight-loss solution.
Q: How much weight will I lose?
It is important to understand the role that the gastric balloon can play during your weight loss journey. As a temporary device which is removed approximately 6 months after it is first inserted, it gives you the breathing space to be able to alter your lifestyle and health-related choices.
On average, you can lose between 1.5 to 2 stones (10-13kg) of weight by six months. Some patients will lose more weight, and some will lose less. This large variability is mainly down to the degree to which you commit to the important lifestyle changes during the balloon’s lifespan.
Q: How long will I stay in hospital?
The balloon is inserted using a gastroscope whilst you are sedated (but not completely asleep or anaesthetised). This means that most of the time, you are able to go home on the same day as the procedure, so long as you have somebody to accompany you and look after you for 24 hours.
Q: What are the risks with the gastric balloon?
The risks associated with the gastric balloon are small. They include the small risk of bleeding and perforation (making a hole in the gullet or stomach) associated with placement of the balloon with a gastroscope. Risks associated with the balloon itself include:
• Vomiting & retching: During the first two weeks after placement of the balloon, it is not uncommon to suffer from nausea and vomiting as the body becomes accustomed to the balloon. We will always prescribe you medication to overcome these symptoms. 1 in every 20 patients will not tolerate the balloon despite this medication and will have to have it removed.
• Balloon leak: Very rarely, the balloon can leak fluid. As a matter of routine, the gastric balloon is filled with a harmless blue coloured liquid. If a leak does happen, the blue liquid will make its way out of your system in your urine. This will change it to a green colour. If this occurs, you should contact us so that the balloon can be removed.
• Stomach ulcers: Very rarely, stomach ulcers can be caused by a gastric balloon. We will always prescribe you medication to reduce the risk of this occurring.
Q: When and how is the balloon removed?
Depending on which one you opt for, the gastric balloon is removed either 6 or 12 months after it is inserted. This is done using a gastroscope whilst you are sedated.
Q: Will I regain weight after the balloon is removed?
There is limited information about the amount of weight that patients regain after the gastric balloon is removed. Should you alter your eating behaviour and adopt an exercise regime and maintain it following removal of the balloon, you will see the greatest and most sustained weight loss results.
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