What procedure is used to fit an Intragastric Balloon?
An eligible patient may initially be given a sedative by a qualified medical practitioner to reduce any uncomfortable sensations. Thereafter an endoscope is passed through the mouth and throat to insert the Intragastric Balloon into the stomach. Once placed in the stomach the Intragastric Balloon is filled with air or saline, via a syringe or valve in the endoscope. The endoscope tube is then removed via the throat and mouth.
What is involved in recovery after the fitting of an Intragastric Balloon?
Intragastric Balloon procedures take about 20 minutes and patients are then monitored for a few hours thereafter for healthy post-operative recovery. In the absence of complications most patients are able to return home the same day otherwise, a night stay may be suggested subject to the surgeon’s decision. During this time some side-effects may be experienced, which is why post-procedural guidelines are important to reduce any feelings of discomfort during recovery.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF AN INTRAGASTRIC BALLOON?
The Intragastric Balloon, also known as Gastric Balloon Surgery is a non-surgical, temporary weight loss treatment for obesity, in which a high quality and durable silicone bag are inserted into the stomach through the throat with an endoscope or gastroscope.
When in the stomach, the bag is inflated with air or saline to resemble a balloon (hence the name). An Intragastric Balloon is designed to aid weight loss over a six month period, enabling patients suffering from obesity to feel full, curb their appetites, eat smaller portions and gain control, in order to follow a managed diet and lifestyle programme for improved health and well-being.
Eligibility for an Intragastric Balloon is limited to people with a high body mass index (BMI) in excess of 27, in addition to those with associated medical complications which shorten their life quality and expectancy. The procedure is geared to lower their weight and BMI to an acceptably safe level for weight loss surgery, such as Gastric Bypass Surgery. A good candidate for Intragastric Balloon treatment should also be committed to safe weight loss through a medically supervised weight-loss management programme.
The kind of people who may not be eligible for Intragastric Balloon treatment are pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with addictions or psychiatric disorders, those surgically treated due to gastrointestinal tract disorders, people with inflammatory diseases, and those who lack commitment to a medically supervised weight loss and behavioral management programme.
- Following a recommended liquid diet of water, milk, juice, jelly or liquid soap for the initial three days.
- Gradually eating a broader range of soft foods, progressing as advised onto smaller-portioned solid foods.
- Abstaining from vigorous exercise activity for a minimum of 8 weeks, but maintaining regular gentle movement to promote good circulation and healthy recovery.
- Avoiding undue pressure and injury to the abdomen.
- Taking at least a week off work to allow for proper healing.
Benefits of Gastric Balloon
One major benefit of the gastric balloon is the avoidance of invasive surgery and the risks associated with surgery. As it only takes 15 minutes under a mild sedative you can go home the same day. This, in turn, means that a gastric balloon is less expensive than many surgical options. It is only temporary, offering support whilst you start to lose weight and become more active.
Patients with gastric balloons typically experience around 20 and 30% weight loss. However, the amount of weight lost by each patient will vary depending on individual circumstances.Endoscopically placed stomach balloons may be considered a middle ground between medications and surgery. They offer the following advantages:
- No medications
- No surgery
- Less expensive than surgical options
- Devices are temporary and procedures are reversible
- Available to patients who may not be eligible for weight loss surgery
Risks & Complications
Gastric discomfort, nausea, and vomiting are common for the first few days following balloon placement but rarely continue in the longer term. Most people don’t experience any complications at all but you should be aware of the risks. Bleeding or perforation can occur as a result of injury during the balloon insertion or removal. You may get a sense of heaviness in the abdomen, abdominal and/or back pain, gastroesophageal reflux (where stomach acid leaks out of the stomach) or indigestion. Although rare, leakage or deflation of the balloon could occur. The patient may experience vomiting and nausea immediately following the placement of gastric balloon. This often happens as the stomach adjusts to the presence of the silicone balloon.
Meanwhile, the insertion of the endoscope and other specialized instruments could lead to gastric lesions, which could cause bleeding and perforation of gastric walls. The procedure could also injure the walls of the esophagus.
Some patients also suffer from a stomach ulcer, which can be avoided by taking medications for as long as the balloon is in the stomach.There is also the possibility of simultaneous deflation of the gastric balloon. If not removed, the deflated balloon could cause stomach blockage.
The presence of a foreign object inside the stomach could have physiological consequences, such as dehydration and imbalance of electrolytes in the body.