First introduced to U.S. market in 1985, Intragastric Balloon (IGB) is used for the treatment of obesity. IGB is a restrictive and non-surgical reversible procedure. Gastric balloon decreases appetite by occupying approximately a third of the stomach volume (1500 ml). In addition, the balloon causes the stomach empty slower and keeping you feeling full longer. This is a procedure to jump start a weight loss lifestyle change.
Current Therapeutic Weight Loss Approaches
The obesity epidemic is at an exceedingly dangerous all-time high. Ultimately, the only tangible, current weight loss solutions are:
- Lifestyle changes
- Weight loss surgery
Even the most intense lifestyle changes only result is modest short-term weight loss. This is because of the Set Point Theory. The set point theory states that the brain is adapted to your current weight, and any deviation from that weight causes the brain to release hunger hormones and slow metabolism to maintain the body’s original weight. Even having a strict diet and relentless exercise often has no significant long-term results and drains both confidence and hope. The current pharmacotherapy solutions available are not very effective in terms of losing weight and have unfavorable side effects.
The only real effective, long-term solution to treat obesity and maintain weight loss is bariatric surgery. The alternatives of either lifestyle modifications and pharmacotherapy are honestly not sustainable over time. The Intragastric Balloon, IGB non-invasive procedure, is a bridge between having weight loss surgery and obesity treatment.
How does Gastric Balloon Surgery Work?
As an endoscopic bariatric therapy, the stomach balloon effectively reduces the capacity of the stomach and the amount of food it can hold, the same primary principle in gastric sleeve and gastric banding. As a result, the patient feels fuller faster. Gastric balloon is a quick and relatively painless weight loss procedure. The procedure is usually performed endoscopically (except balloon pill) on an outpatient basis under sedation or general anesthesia, however, it is best if the patient stays in hospital under medical surveillance to deal with nausea. The Intragastric Balloon Systems take about 20 to 30 minutes to place. The device can be left in place for up to six months (in case of Spatz for one year) and can be easily removed. The patient’s appetite returns to normal after the balloon removal, however behavioral changes of eating small portions may last.
Types of Gastric Balloon
The prevalent gastric balloon managed weight loss systems are Orbera, Duo Balloon, Obalon and Spatz3 (not in the U.S.).
Who is a Candidate for Intragastric Balloon?
The gastric balloon procedure is a quick way to lose weight. Patients with BMI of 27 or above can undergo the gastric balloon procedure. It is suitable for severely obese individuals to jump-start massive weight loss to prepare for another surgical procedure, such as gastric bypass. This reduces the risk of a more invasive bariatric surgery for patients with very high BMI (60 or higher). IGB can be considered as a stand-alone weight management system, comprised of food portion control, behavioral modifications, and exercise. Some health problems associated with obesity, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and sleep apnea may also improve as a result of gastric balloon weight loss procedure.
What to Expect After Gastric Balloon Surgery?
Gastric Balloon Surgery, or Intragastric Balloon, is a procedure that doesn’t require any cutting or incisions, therefore producing minimal risks. Some of the side effects including vomiting or nausea if patients overeat. There is a recommendation to avoid fatty foods on the gastric balloon, as it may cause vomiting.
The results are promising, patients can lose about 35% of their excess weight in six months. This is a good start, but other bariatric surgeries like gastric bypass can produce significantly more weight loss. Some suggest that weight-loss can continue after the balloon is out of a patient’s stomach because of the eating habits (eating less food, eating slower, eating less fatty foods) acquired when the balloon is in place.
Risks and Complications
Like any other bariatric procedure, the gastric balloon has limited risks and side effects associated with it (check out the latest news). Uncomfort, excessive pain, and vomiting may be present after the procedure. These potential risks are why it is best for patients to stay in hospital the day of the procedure. If the patient overeats, they may feel nauseated or vomit. In case of balloon rupture, the patient will get a blue stool or urine. Mucosal damage and small bowel obstruction occur if the balloon is migrated to the small bowel.