Gastric Balloon vs Gastric Sleeve

If you are overweight or suffering from obesity, you may be frustrated with the ineffectiveness you have experienced with traditional weight loss methods. Believe it or not, this is very common, and most of the time, there is nothing you can do on your own that would make a significant difference.

Once a certain BMI is reached, it is almost impossible to lose weight without some type of intervention, whether it be through surgery, prescription weight loss medication, or a non-surgical procedure. There are so many variables involved in the process of losing weight, so working with a professional trained in obesity medicine can help decode underlying issues and neutralize them so your weight loss efforts will be successful.

Once you decide you need some help, you may wonder whether to have surgery or try something less invasive. Today we are going to compare gastric sleeve surgery vs a gastric balloon to give you an idea of what each involves and help you be more informed to make the best decision for your circumstances.

What Are The Procedural Differences Between A Non-Surgical Gastric Balloon vs Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Bariatric Surgery

Gastric sleeve surgery is the most popular type of weight loss surgery, with over 160,000 completed each year in the United States alone. Most often, the surgery is completed laparoscopically under general anesthesia through small incisions made in the patient’s abdomen. It involves reducing the patient’s stomach size by about 75% by permanently removing a large portion with a scalpel and reshaping the remainder into a very small, thin pouch. The remaining edges are then surgically closed using special staples. Patients usually spend a night or two in the hospital and then spend the next four to six weeks recovering. Patients usually lose about 43% of their excess body weight by a year after their gastric sleeve surgery.

Gastric Balloon

A gastric balloon is installed into a patient’s stomach using a non-surgical procedure done as an outpatient while under mild sedation. The doctor uses a special tool (an endoscope) to lower the deflated medical balloon carefully down the patient’s throat and into their stomach, and there are no incisions made. Once it is placed in the proper location within the stomach, it is filled with a liquid saline solution using a special catheter attached to the balloon. Once it reaches about five inches in diameter, the catheter is disengaged from the balloon, and it, along with the endoscope, is removed from the patient. After a short observation period, the patient is sent home in the care of a friend or family member to begin their short recovery of about three days. The balloon remains in the stomach for six to nine months and is then removed.

Infographic: Orbera gastric balloon

7 Benefits Of A Balloon Over Gastric Sleeve

  1. There are no incisions;
  2. Fewer risks or chances for complications;
  3. The recovery is much faster;
  4. General anesthesia is not used;
  5. The procedure is far less invasive than surgery;
  6. No permanent changes are made;
  7. Individuals receive comprehensive support that drives behavior changes and promotes weight loss.

Gastric Balloon vs Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Method Of Weight Loss

The idea behind gastric sleeve surgery and a gastric balloon is similar, which is to restrict the amount of food an individual can eat by reducing the stomach’s usable capacity. Gastric sleeve surgery permanently removes a large portion of the stomach, and the gastric balloon takes up the majority of the room in the patient’s stomach, allowing only a very small amount of food to be ingested. The smaller stomach helps keep the individual feeling full for a longer time, which cuts down on eating between meals.

The surgery is irreversible, which can sometimes be an issue if the patient does not tolerate the changes that have been made to their stomach. Some experience chronic acid reflux, which drives them to undergo additional and more invasive surgery to convert their gastric sleeve to gastric bypass. If a patient has issues with the gastric balloon, it can be removed in a matter of minutes with no lasting side effects.

What Is The Cost Difference?

The cost difference between gastric sleeve surgery vs the gastric balloon endoscopic procedure is quite significant. In the United States, gastric sleeve surgery can cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $14,000 to $23,000 or higher when you add on all the non-inclusive fees.

The cost of a gastric balloon is usually all-inclusive and includes a 12-month program that helps to permanently change the patient’s relationship with food. The goal is for them to make permanent lifestyle changes that will promote weight loss and help them maintain a healthy weight into the future. Many patients have reported that this program was instrumental in helping them stay on track during their weight loss journey.

Which Procedure Is Safer?

Surgery always carries more risks than a procedure that is non-surgical because there are incisions, so there is more risk for infection or excessive bleeding. Also, surgery requires the use of general anesthesia, which also carries risks, and non-surgical procedures can usually be carried out with the patient only under conscious sedation. Gastric sleeve surgery cuts away a large portion of the patient’s stomach (gone forever), and no physical alterations are made to the patient’s stomach with a gastric balloon.

Overall, the gastric balloon is a safer method of weight loss when compared to gastric sleeve surgery. It is important to keep in mind that endoscopic procedures also carry risks (like the one used to place and remove the balloon) and must be completed by a doctor who is highly skilled and has extensive experience with performing the procedure.

Comparison Chart: Gastric Balloon vs Gastric Sleeve

Gastric Sleeve Gastric Balloon
Procedure Type Requires surgery No surgery
Where is this procedure usually performed? In an operating theater at a hospital or specialty facility. Usually performed in the doctor’s office as an outpatient procedure.
What kind of anesthesia is used? General Anesthesia Conscious Sedation
Are incisions used? Yes No
How long does the procedure take? About 2 hours 20 to 30 minutes
Does this require a hospital stay? Usually, between 1-3 days. No, patients go home the same day.
Are permanent changes made to the stomach? Yes, irreversible alterations are made by removing most of the patient’s stomach. No, a gastric balloon is only temporary and is removed after six to nine months.
How long does it take to recover? Between four and six weeks. Approximately three days to a week.

Where Can I Find An Experienced Doctor For A Gastric Balloon Procedure?

If you have been contemplating seeking help with weight loss but don’t want to go through surgery, Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center can help!

Dr. Steven Batash has over three decades of experience helping individuals become healthier and specializes in obesity medicine. Patients come from all over the world to benefit from his expertise and proficient endoscopic skills. The team at Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Clinic is compassionate, caring, and committed to helping you succeed in improving your health by lowering your BMI.

Set up a consultation today to learn more about the pros and cons of gastric balloon vs gastric sleeve surgery and find out if a non-surgical procedure would be right for you.

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