The gastric balloon is a surgical technique that allows obese people to lose weight while learning to eat better and adopting a healthier lifestyle.
The intragastric balloon is for people who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 27 or more and are suffering from obesity.
It is undeniable that diets alone rarely change long-term eating habits. Many people therefore find themselves in a cycle of weight loss and gain, going from one failed diet to another, experiencing the famous yo-yo effect. Others resort to weight loss drugs or appetite suppressants, but these options are difficult to tolerate in the long term because of their side effects.
The gastric balloon is therefore an aid to help shed a large number of kilos.
How the procedure works
The operation is carried out under a local anaesthetic in an outpatient stay. The intragastric balloon is inserted and removed during an endoscopic procedure that lasts twenty to thirty minutes.
Fitting the gastric balloon
The deflated balloon is fastened to a flexible tube, then it is inserted through the mouth with an endoscope to the stomach. Once the balloon is in place, a saline solution (salt water) is injected through a small tube. When the tube is removed, the balloon is automatically sealed. The filling volume varies from 400 to 700 ml to adapt to a large number of people.
A blue dye is added to the saline solution which is injected into the balloon. Thus, in the unlikely event that the balloon has a leak, the patient will notice this immediately as the colour of their urine changes. If this happens, they should contact the doctor immediately so that the balloon can be removed safely.
The balloon is placed in the stomach for up to six months. The nutritionist provides any dietary advice and support required to help the patient to make dietary changes and adjust his or her lifestyle.
Removing the balloon from the stomach
Using an endoscope and a small tube, the doctor removes the saline solution from the balloon before removing the deflated balloon from the stomach.
After the procedure
The patient rests for one to two hours for observation before being able to leave the clinic.
The patient has a feeling of discomfort for the first few days, while the stomach adjusts to the balloon. Nausea, bloating, diarrhoea and cramps may occur. These side effects are temporary and normal. If necessary, the doctor prescribes a suitable drug treatment in order to better control them.
It is advisable to rest and not engage in any physical activity for 24 hours.
Then there is a nutritional monitoring for six months. The first steps: drinking small amounts of cold liquids, beginning with a teaspoon, and slowly increasing the amount of liquid.
Week 1: liquid-based diet only
The first days are uncomfortable because the stomach has to get used to the presence of the balloon. The total liquid consumption (water, juice, clear soups, milk, etc.) must be above 2 litres per day. The patient may resort to meal replacements for a week in order to help provide for their daily protein and calorie needs.
Week 2: pureed, soft and solid foods
The stomach begins to adjust to its new size. The transition from pureed foods to solid foods takes about one week, but progress is only made if the body tolerates the foods for the next stage.
- Pureed food for three days: Once the stomach has adjusted to liquids, the patient can start introducing pureed foods into their meals.
- Soft food for four days: This stage prepares the patient to return to solid food. It is advisable to eat slowly, chew foods carefully and choose foods which are low in fat, calories and carbohydrates.
- Solid foods: This is the end of the food transition. The patient can resume normal activities and start to retrain their appetite for sustainable and healthy weight loss. They can resume solid foods one after another. They need to drink lots of water and avoid drinking and eating at the same time. It is advisable to drink at least a glass of water half an hour before each meal and two glasses of water half an hour after to rinse the balloon.
- For the next six months: The patient must follow a diet plan to monitor changes in their weight.
Patients can expect a significant weight loss of between fifteen to twenty kilos during the six months of the gastric balloon being installed. Lasting success is dependent on the patient's commitment to eating healthily, reducing the size of portions and adopting an active lifestyle. Patients can maintain their weight loss more easily over a longer period compared to diets alone.
Gastric balloon prices
|Intervention||Anaesthetic||Stay||Prices including VAT*|
|Other fees||Prices including VAT*|
|Consultation with the surgeon||€50|
* 20% VAT