A gastric balloon, also known as an intragastric balloon, is a nonsurgical weight loss procedure designed to assist individuals in achieving weight loss by reducing food intake. It involves placing a deflated balloon into the stomach and then inflating it to create a feeling of fullness, which helps control appetite and portion sizes.
- Placement: A deflated silicone balloon is inserted into the stomach through the mouth using an endoscope. An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a camera and light at the end. The balloon is guided down the esophagus and into the stomach.
- Inflation: Once the balloon is in the stomach, it is filled with a sterile saline solution or air, expanding to occupy space within the stomach. This process takes about 20-30 minutes. The inflated balloon remains in the stomach for a period of several months.
- Sensation of Fullness: The presence of the inflated balloon in the stomach creates a sensation of fullness, even with smaller meals. This helps individuals feel satisfied with less food and reduces the desire to eat larger portions.
- Diet and Lifestyle Changes: While the balloon is in place, individuals typically work closely with a healthcare team, including dietitians and physicians, to develop healthier eating habits and lifestyle changes. This period is used to help individuals adjust to smaller portion sizes and make lasting changes to their eating behaviors.
- Removal: After several months (usually around 6 months), the balloon is removed from the stomach. This is done using an endoscope in a similar manner to its placement. The balloon is deflated before removal.
It's important to note that the gastric balloon is a temporary solution and is typically recommended for individuals who need to lose weight before undergoing other weight loss procedures or who are not eligible for surgery. The balloon is not a permanent implant and does not involve any incisions or alterations to the digestive tract.
Gastric balloon procedures can be effective in jump-starting weight loss and helping individuals develop healthier habits. However, the long-term success of weight loss still depends on maintaining a balanced diet and an active lifestyle after the balloon is removed. As with any medical procedure, individuals considering a gastric balloon should consult with a healthcare professional to determine if it's a suitable option for their individual circumstances.