Weight Loss Balloon

The most recently approved weight loss device in the United States is the intragastric balloon. This is a system where a large sphere filled with air or saline is placed in the stomach to make the patient feel fuller sooner. This essentially mimics the restrictive process in bariatric surgery procedures by reducing the amount of usable stomach space. The weight loss balloon is compelling for many patients because it does not require surgery for its placement, and it is not a permanently implanted medical device.

How It Works

An uninflated balloon made from bio-compatible materials is inserted into the stomach via the mouth. This is an endoscopic procedure and can only be performed by a qualified gastroenterologist or bariatric surgeon. Patients will be lightly sedated during the process. Once in place, the surgeon fills the balloon with sterile saline or gas, inflating it to the proper size. By taking up a significant portion of the stomach’s volume, patients will feel full sooner and, in turn, eat less.

Along with the balloon placement, the patient will spend six months participating in a structured medical weight loss program specifically designed to enhance the procedure’s effectiveness and effectuate longer-term behavioral modifications that allow the patient to maintain their weight loss long after the balloon is removed.

The weight loss balloon is indicated for placement for a maximum of six months, at which time it must be removed. This is because the corrosive nature of stomach acid will eventually break it down and cause a leak. Once the balloon is removed, depending on the patient’s tolerance and success with the balloon, it can either be replaced, or the patient can continue with their medical weight loss diet.

How The Balloon Is Removed

The balloon is easily removed by puncturing its outer shell and allowing the saline inside to drain into the stomach. Your surgeon will remove it from the abdomen the same way it was inserted. This, again, requires light sedation.

The gastric balloon does not work for everyone suffering from obesity. However, it does add another option for patients who do not wish to undergo a surgical procedure or for whom a medical weight loss program has not been effective. It is also important to remember that insurance companies are not yet covering the gastric balloon. Therefore, patients need to arrange for financing or cash pay to undergo this procedure.