The Pros and Cons of Intragastric Balloons

Anyone who has tried counting calories and increasing their level of physical activity in an attempt to lose weight understands the disappointment and frustration when no progress is made. You may wish to consider a gastric balloon procedure which is also referred to as an intragastric balloon to help you lose weight.

A gastric balloon is a procedure that involves having a silicone balloon placed into the patient’s stomach that will take up a significant amount of space. With the smaller stomach capacity, the patient is not able to eat as much and what they are able to consume will keep them satisfied longer. To determine whether a gastric balloon may be a good option to facilitate weight loss for you, we have compiled a list of the pros and cons of intragastric balloons.

The Pros Of A Gastric Balloon

A Gastric Balloon Requires No Surgery

The gastric balloon is lowered into the patient’s stomach while the patient is under mild sedation. The deflated balloon is lowered down the throat using an endoscope which is a special instrument that is a thin hollow tube and has a camera attached. Once the balloon is placed in the proper location in the stomach, the doctor inflates it to about the size of a large mango. The entire procedure takes about 20 – 30 minutes and there are no incisions, stitches, or risks that are normally associated with surgery or the use of general anesthesia.

A Gastric Balloon Is Temporary

Gastric balloon weight loss programs are temporary and used to assist patients in “jump-starting” their weight loss efforts. The balloon is only kept in the patient’s stomach for six months during which the patient learns portion control and healthy lifestyle habits including diet and exercise. If at any time during the six months, the patient experiences adverse effects from the balloon, it can be removed in about 20 minutes. Bariatric surgery makes permanent changes to a patient’s stomach and/or digestive system but a gastric balloon is used only temporarily.

A Gastric Balloon Is Generally Less Expensive Than Bariatric Surgery

A gastric balloon procedure generally costs between $6,000 and $9,000 compared to the cost of bariatric surgery which in the United States starts between $14,000-23,000. Also, after bariatric surgery, many patients incur additional costs for the required supplements they must take for the rest of their lives to ensure they do not suffer from malnutrition.

An additional benefit of a gastric balloon is that the patient receives supervision and support for a full year during their weight loss program even after the balloon is removed after the initial 6 months.

Most Patients Are Candidates For Gastric Balloon Procedures

The typical requirements to qualify for bariatric surgery are a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40 or a BMI of 35 with one or more weight-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes. In short, the patient’s obesity issue must be far advanced for them to qualify for help but those who would like to act before their BMI advances to dangerous levels do not qualify. Candidates who have lower BMI levels often will qualify for a gastric balloon procedure and can get their weight under control before their BMI elevates.

Additionally, patients that are in poor health and may not qualify to undergo a surgical procedure are often candidates for a gastric balloon. This may be used as an interim solution to help patients lose an initial amount of weight before undergoing a surgical procedure.

A Gastric Balloon Provides A Safe And Effective Weight Loss Alternative

Gastric balloon procedures offer individuals weight loss results that are three times those of using diet and exercise alone. Most patients who undergo a gastric balloon procedure lose a significant amount of weight during the first three months of their program.

Orbera patient lost 39 pounds within 6 months after the procedure
Orbera patient lost 39 pounds within 6 months after the procedure

Most individuals have lost between 25 and 50 pounds by the time their balloon is removed at six months. Gastric balloon weight loss programs effectively help patients learn new behavior patterns that include portion control, a healthy low-calorie diet, and the importance of incorporating exercise into their daily routines. Patients who continue these new behaviors are successful in losing more weight and/or maintaining their weight loss results.

When looking at gastric balloon pros and cons, you will notice there are more pros vs cons. Now that we have looked at some of the pros of gastric balloons, let’s look at some of the cons of gastric balloons.

The Cons Of A Gastric Balloon

  • Lower average weight loss percentages – The average weight loss for patients who undergo a gastric balloon procedure is generally lower when compared to bariatric surgery. A few things to keep in mind when looking at this comparison are:
    • Patients have a more involved and longer recovery time after undergoing bariatric surgery and must remain on a liquid diet for a substantial amount of time vs a gastric balloon which may account for a substantial loss of weight;
    • Patient dedication and compliance to following a low-calorie healthy diet and exercise plan after either procedure is key in obtaining significant weight loss results. Patients have lost over 100 pounds after a gastric balloon procedure.
  • Weight loss results may take longer – Patients normally lose a significant amount of weight during the first 3 to 6 months after having the gastric balloon inserted. Weight loss then generally slows down and may require dietary changes or an increase in physical exercise to reactivate.
  • Weight Regain is possible after the balloon is removed – If patients do not continue to follow the same dietary restrictions after the removal of the weight loss balloon they may begin to gain weight.
  • Side Effects – While most of the side effects are temporary and generally only last a few weeks, they can sometimes become chronic and non-responsive to medications (e.g. acid reflux, nausea, vomiting).
  • Must Avoid Certain Foods – Similar to after undergoing bariatric surgery, patients must avoid certain foods and beverages after the insertion of a gastric balloon. For example, certain foods such as pasta tend to stick to gastric balloons causing unpleasant side effects.

After reviewing these gastric balloon pros and cons, you may feel that a gastric balloon may be the perfect solution for you. Contact Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center today and set up a consultation to speak to one of our experts to learn more!

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