First introduced to U.S. market in 1985, Intragastric Balloon (IGB) is used for 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 lifestyle change.
Current Therapeutic Weight Loss Approaches
The obesity epidemic is at a dangerously all-time high and here are the current solutions:
- Lifestyle changes
- Weight loss surgery
Intensive lifestyle changes only result is modest weight loss. Pharmacotherapy solutions available at present are not so effective and has unfavorable side effects. The only long-term solution to obesity is bariatrics as the lifestyle modifications and pharacotherapy are not sustainable over time. IGB non-invasive procedure is a bridge between the weight loss surgery and the other two.
How does Gastric Balloon Surgery Work?
As an endoscopic bariatric therpay, the stomach balloon effectively reduces the capacity of the stomach and the amount of food it can hold, 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. The procedure is usually performed endoscopically (except balloon pill) on an outpatient basis under sedation or general anesthesia, however it is best if 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.
The prevalent gastric balloon managed weight loss systems are Orbera, Duo Balloon, Obalon and Spatz3 (not in 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 are the Risks and Complications?
Like any other procedure, gastric balloon has risks associated with it (check out the latest news). The gastric ballooning has limited risks and side effects. Uncomfortableness, excessive pain and vomiting, may be present after the procedure. That is why it is best for patient 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 small bowel.
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.