A gastric balloon, also referred to as an intragastric balloon, is a soft balloon that is non-surgically inserted through your mouth into your stomach during an endoscopy. The balloon partially fills your stomach after it is filled with a saline solution through a self-sealing valve. This leaves less room for larger amounts of food or fluid intake. The gastric balloon is only designed for temporary placement.
When followed properly, the gastric balloon can be a kick-start for healthy weight loss. While in place, you will eat smaller amounts of food as you will feel satisfied much quicker. This will help you learn what a healthy portion size is for your body, so you can hopefully have success in long-term weight loss and weight management following the balloon’s removal.
If you have continually been unsuccessful with weight loss following diet and exercise programs but you don’t want to consider weight loss surgery, the gastric balloon may be a good short-term option.
You must be considered obese to qualify for this treatment. This equates to a body mass index between 30 and 40 or a weight that is considered at least 30 pounds over your ideal body weight.
There are many types of gastric balloons and some require you to have been diagnosed with an obesity-related health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, or others.
Your journey begins with an initial consultation with your health care provider to assess if the gastric balloon is right for you. Be prepared to answer questions pertaining to:
If you and your health care provider believe a gastric balloon is a good option for you, the procedure will be scheduled.
The endoscopic placement of the gastric balloon is done under light sedation and takes between 20 to 30 minutes. You will be observed for a minimum of 2 hours prior to being discharged home the same day. It is recommended that you are accompanied by someone who is able to drive you home and care for you for during the first 24 hours.
Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions to follow when it comes to preparing for your procedure.
You may have feelings of discomfort during the first few days following your balloon placement while your stomach is adjusting to the balloon’s presence. You will be discharged with the necessary prescriptions to manage normal and expected symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort.
You will likely be restricted to a liquid only diet for the first three to seven days. Many health care providers recommend clear liquids only for the first 24 hours. Examples include:
You will likely be instructed to avoid:
Important tips to remember when first introducing your body to liquids:
Non-clear liquids can often be consumed at the beginning of day 2. This can include milk, juice, protein drinks etc. Depending on your health care provider and type of gastric balloon placed, after completing a liquid diet, you may have to finish up the first 14 days following a pureed food diet.
Any strenuous or heavy activities should be avoided the first week. Normal daily activities can be resumed when you feel well and your body has adjusted to the balloon placement. It is highly recommended that you begin a regular exercise program following the approval from your health care provider.
Once your body has adjusted to the balloon placement you can resume a normal diet. Again, depending on your health care provider and type of balloon placement, you may have minimal restrictions.
Of most importance related to your diet is that you faithfully follow the instructions given by your nutritionist or dietitian. This includes taking any vitamin or mineral supplements as suggested.
When introducing your body to a normal diet, consider these tips:
The gastric balloon is a short-term method. Depending on your balloon type, removal can occur anywhere from 12 weeks to one year.
The procedure for removal is very similar to your procedure for balloon placement. You will be lightly sedated and the balloon will be deflated prior to removal. The entire procedure should take between 20 and 30 minutes.
Typically, health care providers combine the gastric balloon with a managed weight loss program, which includes a team of experts that will monitor your progress and teach you valuable tools and healthy eating and lifestyle habits.
Your team will develop an individualized weight loss program and continue to guide you on your weight loss journey for an additional six months following the removal of your balloon.
For maximal and long-term success, it is highly recommended that you continue your newly established eating and exercise habits indefinitely. Your doctor can provide you with individualized instructions to get the most out of your procedure.
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