What is the gastric balloon?
This is a specially designed balloon that is placed inside your stomach. We use the Orbera® Intra Gastric Balloon in Leeds. This is made of a special plastic called silicone. When inflated, the balloon is about the size of a grapefruit.
How does the gastric balloon work?
The Orbera® gastric balloon is meant to stay inside your stomach for 6 months. The balloon occupies space inside your stomach. It helps you to get full quickly with a small meal, and to stop feeling hungry until it is time for your next meal. Like any other weight loss procedure, it is a tool to help you in healthy eating.
Is the gastric balloon suitable for me?
You should give consideration to a balloon if your BMI is more than 27 and you have not been successful to lose weight by changing your lifestyle. The gastric balloon is not suitable if you have had an operation on your stomach or if you have a stomach ulcer, severe acid reflux, hiatus hernia and certain other medical conditions.
How is the gastric balloon placed in the stomach?
The Orbera® gastric balloon is placed in the stomach by endoscopy. First, your oesophagus (gullet) and stomach are examined carefully to make sure that you do not have some unexpected problem. In the rare case that some serious problem is found, the balloon will not be placed. The endoscope is taken out after making sure that your stomach is normal, and the balloon is then inserted. The balloon comes ‘flat-packed’. It is tightly rolled and it can be swallowed quite easily. The balloon is connected to a thin tube that trails out through your mouth. The endoscope is now passed again to make sure that the balloon is lying correctly in your stomach. The balloon is then inflated by injecting saline through the tube. The balloon is filled with saline that is coloured blue. The capacity of the balloon is 400 ml (¾ pint) to 700 ml (1¼ pint). The judgment of how much to inflate the balloon has to be made during the procedure, according to how the balloon fits your stomach. After the balloon has been filled, the tube is pulled out. The balloon has a self-sealing valve that prevents the saline from leaking out. See video illustrating the placement of a gastric balloon.
Do I need anaesthesia for placement and removal of the gastric balloon?
Both placement and removal of the gastric balloon are done with sedation and local anaesthesia spray to your throat. General anaesthesia is not needed. You are awake but very drowsy. Most people are able to tolerate the procedure with only mild discomfort. The procedure takes about 15-20 minutes. You are in hospital for few hours after the procedure and you can then go home on the same day.
Is it possible to adjust the size of the gastric balloon?
The size of the Orbera® balloon is adjusted during the procedure according to how it fits your stomach. But, after the procedure the size cannot be altered. It is not possible to put more liquid into the balloon if you feel that you do not have enough fullness.
How long does the gastric balloon remain in place?
The gastric balloon is designed to stay in the stomach for a maximum of 6 months. The balloon has to be taken out after 6 months. There is risk that the gastric balloon can rupture if it is left in the stomach for longer than 6 months. The danger from rupture is that the collapsed balloon can pass out from the stomach into the bowel and cause blockage of the bowel. This is a serious condition that can become life threatening.
How is the gastric balloon taken out?
The gastric balloon is taken out by doing an endoscopy, just as for putting in the balloon. Using special equipment, the balloon is deflated and removed through your mouth. You have to be in the hospital for a few hours only. See video illustrating the removal of a gastric balloon.
How much weight can I lose with the gastric balloon?
The average weight loss after 6 months is about 25% of your excess weight or about 10% of your starting weight. Our specialist dietician will support and guide you for healthy eating so that you can get the best possible results. Please stay in close contact with the dietician during the 6 months. But, please remember that there are no guarantees for weight loss.
What happens after the gastric balloon is taken out?
The gastric balloon does not produce any permanent change in the size or structure of your stomach. The gastric balloon can give you a kick-start to weight loss. You may find it easier to maintain your weight once you have lost weight with the gastric balloon. Also, the balloon can help you to change your life style and build discipline. But, please remember that you can put weight back on after the balloon has been taken out. In one study, patients regained about one-third of the lost weight at 6 months after balloon removal.
What are the side effects and risks with a gastric balloon?
It is common to get nausea, vomiting, reflux and pain in the tummy after placement of the gastric balloon. You will be given anti-acid and anti-nausea medicines, and these symptoms usually settle down in few days. But, these side-effects can last longer. Rare risks are bleeding, perforation of the oesophagus (gullet) or stomach, aspiration pneumonia, gastritis, stomach ulcer, balloon deflation/rupture and blockage of the stomach or bowel, bacterial overgrowth in the stomach and dehydration. It may be necessary to remove the balloon sooner than 6 months if you not able to tolerate the gastric balloon.
What care is needed whilst the gastric balloon is in place?
You should take an anti-acid medicine called a PPI (e.g. Lansoprazole 30 mg daily) for as long as the gastric balloon is in your stomach. Also, you should take a multivitamin and multimineral supplement daily whilst you have the balloon. We recommend Forceval® one capsule daily (you will need a prescription from your GP for this medicine). Alternatively, you can take any over-the-counter complete multivitamin/multimineral supplement. Please get in touch with the hospital immediately if you have prolonged vomiting. Finally, please stay in close contact with our specialist dietician so that you can get the best results from your gastric balloon.