What BMI Qualifies For A Gastric Balloon?

In recent years, the intragastric balloon procedure has emerged as a popular non-surgical weight loss option for individuals struggling with obesity. This minimally invasive procedure involves placing a deflated balloon in the stomach, which is then filled with saline solution or gas to reduce the available stomach volume and promote feelings of fullness. As with other weight loss interventions, the body mass index (BMI) of a patient plays a role in determining eligibility for the intragastric balloon procedure. In this article, we will look at what BMI qualifies for gastric balloon weight loss and the different intragastric balloon procedures available today.

Understanding Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a widely used tool that was developed in the 19th century and provides a numerical value used to categorize individuals into different weight categories, ranging from underweight to obese. BMI is derived through a simple mathematical formula that relates a person’s weight to their height, and while it doesn’t directly measure body fat percentages, it serves as a useful screening tool to identify potential weight-related health risks. A patient must fall within a certain range of BMI to qualify for gastric balloon weight loss.

Calculation of BMI

BMI is normally calculated via the metric system by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters (BMI = weight (kg) / height^2 (m^2)). If you prefer using pounds and inches, the formula can be modified to BMI = (weight (lb) / height^2 (in^2)) × 703. The resulting value indicates an individual’s BMI score.

To find your BMI quickly and easily, use our online BMI calculator.

Interpreting BMI

BMI is typically categorized into various ranges, each corresponding to weight status. The World Health Organization (WHO) classification chart is widely used for adults when determining if a patient’s BMI qualifies for a gastric balloon.

Classic BMI Range Chart
Underweight BMI < 18.5
Normal or healthy weight BMI 18.5-24.9
Overweight BMI 25-29.9
Obesity (Class I) BMI 30-34.9
Obesity (Class II) BMI 35-39.9
Obesity (Class III) BMI ≥ 40

Limitations of Using BMI To Qualify For Gastric Balloon

A BMI calculation provides a quick and convenient assessment of weight status, but it has certain limitations and is not a comprehensive measure of health. Weight loss doctors generally do not rely solely on the patient’s BMI for gastric balloon eligibility due to other factors that can be involved, such as:

  • BMI does not differentiate between fat mass and muscle mass. Consequently, individuals with high muscle mass, such as athletes, may have a higher BMI even though they have a low percentage of body fat;
  • BMI does not account for variations in body shape, the distribution of fat, or factors like bone density. Therefore, two individuals with the same BMI may have different body compositions and different health risks;
  • BMI cutoffs may not be universally applicable to all ethnic groups or genders. Research suggests that the health risks associated with a particular BMI category may vary among different populations;
  • BMI may not be accurate for older adults due to changes in body composition, bone density, and muscle mass associated with aging;
  • Although BMI is associated with several health conditions, including cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, it does not take into account other factors such as family history, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and overall lifestyle.

What BMI Qualifies For a Gastric Balloon?

The specific BMI to qualify for gastric balloon procedures can vary by doctor and the type of intragastric balloon used. In general individuals with a BMI between 30 and 40 are typically considered suitable candidates for the gastric balloon but in some cases, patients with a BMI over 27 may be considered.

  • Individuals with a BMI Of 27 fall into the overweight category and can have weight-related conditions that inhibit their ability to lose weight without some type of medical intervention. Doctors trained in obesity medicine may determine that it is in a patient’s best interest to begin their weight loss journey with their lower BMI using an intragastric balloon;
  • Individuals that fall into obesity class I with a BMI of 30 to 34.9 have a moderate level of obesity. They may have already tried various weight loss methods without success, and their excess weight poses potential health risks;
  • Individuals that fall into obesity class II with a BMI of 35 to 39.9 often face significant health concerns and may struggle with weight-related comorbidities such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and joint problems.

What Are The BMI Qualifications For FDA-Approved Gastric Balloons?

There are three FDA-approved gastric balloons available for weight loss interventions in the United States, each with its own unique features and BMI requirements. The specific types of gastric balloons and their corresponding BMI qualifications may vary depending on the patient’s circumstances, the doctor, or other factors. Following are the gastric balloons approved for use in the US, along with their associated BMI requirements:

1. Orbera™ Single Intragastric Balloon
The Orbera single intragastric balloon is one of the most widely used gastric balloons in the United States and around the world. The Orbera gastric balloon was the forerunner to all other gastric balloons and meets all the requirements of an “ideal balloon,” as outlined by a team of international experts during a joint conference. Patients have shown the most weight loss using the Orbera balloon compared to other types of balloon programs. It is typically recommended for individuals with a BMI ranging from 30 to 40. This BMI range corresponds to the obesity class I and obesity class II categories, indicating moderate to severe obesity.
Infographic: Orbera gastric balloon
2. Spatz3 Adjustable Balloon
The Spatz3 adjustable balloon is a recently approved (October 2021) type of gastric balloon that can be filled with different volumes of saline solution to customize the balloon size for weight loss. It is typically recommended for individuals with a BMI ranging from 30 to 40.

In clinical trials for the Spatz3 balloon, patients experienced approximately the same amount of weight loss as with the Orbera balloon. The adjustable feature did not seem to make a difference in the long run. Also, the Spatz3 balloon has a “tail”-like feature that allows for volume adjustments, which have been known to cause ulcers, etc.

3. Obalon® Swallowable Balloon System
The Obalon® swallowable balloon system involves swallowing a series of gas-filled balloons that are gradually inflated in the stomach. Patients begin with one balloon, and the others are added at one-month intervals for a total of three balloons. The recommended minimum BMI for an Obalon gastric balloon is generally between 30 and 40, similar to other gastric balloons. Patients did not experience as significant a weight loss as with the liquid-filled balloons.

Beyond BMI Qualifications For The Intragastric Balloon

The gastric balloon procedure is an effective weight loss tool for individuals struggling with obesity who have not achieved long-term success through conventional weight loss methods alone.

The BMI qualifications for gastric balloons can serve as a helpful screening tool for this non-surgical weight loss procedure due to their correlation with obesity-related health risks. However, it is essential to consult with a qualified board-certified doctor specializing in weight management to assess individual suitability, as there may be additional factors to consider.

The gastric balloon procedure alone will not provide sustainable weight loss. The patient must be committed to making the comprehensive lifestyle changes that are necessary to achieve successful weight loss and improve their overall health.

Contact Us About The BMI Qualifications For The Orbera Balloon

While BMI is an important factor, weight loss professionals such as Dr. Steven Batash also consider other factors during the evaluation process for the gastric balloon procedure.

An intragastric balloon procedure can have significant benefits and can safely and effectively help you lose weight. By reducing the stomach’s capacity and promoting feelings of fullness, it helps you consume smaller portions and make healthier food choices. This procedure can jumpstart your weight loss and serve as a catalyst for long-term positive lifestyle changes.

Contact Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center today for a consultation to determine your eligibility for a gastric balloon. We will look at your overall health, medical history, comorbidities, and unique circumstances to determine if the Orbera gastric balloon procedure is right for you.

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