If you’re struggling with weight issues and you don’t qualify for traditional weight loss surgery, or you want to consider an alternative to stomach stapling, a stomach balloon device may be the solution that works best for you.
Ideal candidates for a stomach balloon system insertion are individuals who have failed to lose weight through diet and exercise alone. It’s generally not meant to be a first choice for patients who need to lose a significant amount of weight quickly primarily for health reasons, although some patients do experience substantial weight loss with repeated use of the balloon system at six-month intervals. The balloon system is generally considered a preferable option for patients who wish to lose weight fairly quickly without surgery.
The restricted capacity of the stomach creates a “full” feeling sooner than what most people experience without balloons in place. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved the device for use in patients who fail to qualify for surgical weight-loss options, although this decision is up to the discretion of the medical professional who examines the patient. An evaluation usually includes a review of a patient’s overall health and a discussion of previous weight loss attempts.
If you are not considered to be a candidate for the stomach balloon, your doctor may recommend a different type of weight loss procedure that could work for you.
The device, consisting of two connected balloons to ensure that the device stays in place, is inserted after the patient is given a mild sedative. The deflated balloons will then be filled with a saline solution until they reach an appropriate size, which is usually about the size of grapefruit. Typically completed in a non-surgical procedure, the insertion of the device is done in a way that minimizes patient downtime.
The balloons, which are made of a soft, durable material, are inserted through a scope and eased down into the stomach. The balloons themselves are designed to reduce how much food the stomach can handle at any given time in order to encourage manageable portions and facilitate weight loss efforts. The entire procedure usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete and most patients go home the same day. The two balloons will remain in place for six months.
It usually takes a few days to get used to having the balloons in place. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled to determine how you’re doing with the device in place. You will be given dietary instructions and other suggestions on how to make appropriate lifestyle adjustments. This coaching usually continues for an additional six months after the device is removed. Expect to receive instruction on how to get used to the device and deal with any other initial issues.
A long-term stomach balloon study referenced by the National Institutes of Health found that the device was successful for a quarter of the patients studied more than two years after its use. For those who had sustained success, this included achieving the desired weight loss goal and being able to maintain that weight loss after the device was removed. Six months from the initial insertion of the balloons, the average weight loss among those studied was nearly 30 pounds.
A study of 100 patients about a year or so after the use of the device showed no significant complications. The average weight loss a year after the procedure was nearly 19 pounds, which is greater than the average weight loss normally experienced through dietary changes alone. A long-term, six-year study referenced by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery concluded that repeated use of the balloon system may be an effective remedy for sustained weight loss and the reduction of serious medical issues.
Odds of seeing long-term success following the use of the stomach balloon device are greatly increased if lifestyle changes are made and maintained. Patients often receive coaching that includes instruction on keeping meal portions an appropriate size and making healthy dietary choices. Another important part of the equation is to get some type of regular exercise, which can come in the form of going for brisk walks for at least 15-20 minutes a day, taking up hobbies such as gardening and other activities involving regular movements, and making efforts to take the stairs and walk when possible. According to the U.S. Department of Agricultural, a well-balanced diet is one that includes:
Following the procedure, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for care and dietary restrictions. These instructions are in place to help you see optimal success and to help minimize the risk of complications.
According to the FDA, a clinical trial of nearly 200 patients who had the balloon device inserted showed an average weight loss of 14 pounds, which is twice as much weight as what was lost in those who didn’t use the balloon system. Meant to help patients with smaller, short-term weight loss needs, the stomach balloon device presents a less-invasive way to achieve such goals and encourage meaningful lifestyle adjustments to continue after it’s removed.
Of course, results with this procedure vary from one patient to the next. The best way to get an idea of the realistic expectations you should have following the procedure is to talk with your doctor.
To learn more about the stomach balloon and other types of weight loss procedures, contact our office today and schedule a free consultation with our expert bariatric surgeon.
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