Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery

Gastric Balloon

What is a Gastric Balloon?

If you have been struggling with your weight, but would prefer to avoid surgery, then the gastric balloon could be the solution for you.  The balloon is made from soft silicone and is about size of a grapefruit.

When in the deflated state, an endoscope is used to pass the balloon through your mouth and into your stomach.  It’s then filled with around 700cc of saline and remains in place for 6-12 months, when it is removed – again endoscopically.  The procedure (both implantation and removal) takes around 20-minutes and is carried out as a day-case.

At Auralia we use the ORBERA® balloon which has been in use for at least 20-years and has a wealth of clinical studies to support it.  The implantation and removal procedures are shown in the animations here:

Gastric Balloon Information

How does the balloon work?

Once in place, the gastric balloon is filled with saline to partially fill the stomach so that you feel full, even after eating small amounts of food.  In this way the balloon helps to control your hunger, giving you time to get used to new eating patterns.

Immediately after the procedure you will be given medication to control the various side-effects (see below) that may occur.  Most patients are well enough to be discharged around 2-hours after the procedure has been completed.

You will be given detailed information about the diet you should follow once the device has been placed.

Weight-Loss and Health Benefits of the Balloon

Experience suggest that a gastric balloon typically results in a 2-3 stone weight loss over the first 6 months that the balloon is in place, although some have successfully lost as much as 4 or 5 stone.  In fact, the average person loses 3 times more weight with the gastric balloon than with diet and exercise alone.

It’s important to note that most (70-80%) of your weight loss will be achieved in the first 3 months, after which your weight tends to stabilize.  From this point on, the balloon’s main function is to help you maintain your new body weight through correct nutrition and physical activity.

In general, the amount of weight you lose will depend upon your starting weight and how committed you are to making permanent lifestyle changes.

The main risk with the gastric balloon is that of weight regain once the balloon is removed.  This is why it’s so important to use the time when the balloon is in place to develop healthy habits that will continue for the rest of your life. Having an open and constant communication with your support team is essential to maximizing the benefits of the gastric balloon

Published clinical studies of ORBERA® have shown that, provided you keep to the prescribed diet and exercise regime, you will maintain weight loss through dieting post-removal. So, if you stick to your new, healthy lifestyle you will be well on the way to maintaining your weight loss.

A useful analogy is that of stabilizers on a child’s bicycle.  With sufficient practice we hope the child will have learned enough to stay upright once the stabilizers are removed.  But inevitably some children won’t manage it, will fall over and have to start again.  It’s the same with the gastric balloon.

The health benefits of the gastric balloon are similar to those of any other weight loss procedure but are entirely dependent upon the weight loss being permanent.

What are the side effects?

The gastric balloon is a very safe procedure, and more than 277,000 ORBERA® balloons have been placed worldwide.  However, as with all procedures, there are some possible side-effects, which include the following:

  • For the first 24-hours following placement of the device, most patients will experience nausea, abdominal discomfort, stomach cramps and occasional retching. These symptoms can usually be controlled with medication and usually subside within a few days
  • In a small proportion of patients – around 5% – the initial side-effects may be so severe that the balloon has to be removed. Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict who will be intolerant to the device.
  • A feeling of heaviness in the stomach, with back or abdominal discomfort as the body adjusts to the presence of the balloon
  • Reflux (heartburn) which may require medication
  • There is a theoretical risk that the balloon could spontaneously rupture and pass into the bowel, but evidence shows that this is exceedingly uncommon.
Am I eligible for a gastric balloon?

Eligibility is based on a variety of factors but as a guide, a gastric balloon could be suitable for you if your BMI is over 27kg/m2 and you have around 2-3 stones to lose. In addition, many patients who are considering surgery decide to try the gastric balloon first, with the option of proceeding to a surgical intervention at a later stage.

If you would like to discuss the gastric balloon with one of our advisors, contact us or give us call on 01 612 0551. We are here to help!