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10 Things You Need To Know About The Gastric Balloon

Written By: Emma Squillace

The gastric balloon is a relatively new procedure. You may have heard about this weight loss option which is gaining popularity around the United States and is an interesting option for people who do not qualify for weight loss surgery, or would prefer a less invasive treatment. Here are 10 things you need to know about the gastric balloon, which we offer in our California offices:

  1. The balloon procedure is not surgery. Instead, the balloon is a medical device that is placed and removed with a thin tube that goes down the patient’s throat while they are lightly sedated. Once in the stomach, the balloon is filled with saline.
  1. There are 2 different balloons. The Orbera and ReShape balloons both received FDA approval in 2015. Although there are slight differences between the balloons, they work in a similar way. At West Medical, we offer both types of balloons. When you meet with a doctor at our practice, they can help you make the best decision about which device or procedure is best for you.
  1. The balloon does not cause weight loss on its own. Instead, the balloon is a tool that allows people to find more benefit from eating well and moving more. Most people cannot lose weight and keep it off from traditional diets alone. The balloon elevates your efforts, and helps many people find the weight loss success they’ve not had otherwise.
  1. The gastric balloon is filled with approximately 2 cups of saline. By filling the balloon with fluid, it takes up room in your stomach. This encourages patients to eat smaller meals, and allows them to feel full for longer.
  1. The balloons are approved for adults with a BMI between 30 – 40. You can use our BMI calculator to find out your BMI, which is a ratio of weight to height. If your BMI is over 40, bariatric surgery like the sleep or bypass may be a better option.
  1. The balloon is a temporary device. Since the gastric balloon is not a permanent device, your doctor will remove the balloon from your stomach after 6 months. Many patients maintain the weight they lost with the balloon, or continue to lose more weight once the balloon is removed. This is because of the coaching, education, and good habits they learned through the first 6 months of the program.
  1. You may get triple the weight loss. In studies, patients with the balloon lost 3 times as much weight as patients who used diet and exercise alone. This is because the balloon doesn’t replace these efforts, but instead it allows committed patients to amplify their hard work.
  1. Insurance does not cover the cost of the balloon. At this time, insurance companies are not paying for the balloon, so it is considered a “self pay” procedure. Our office can recommend financing options for patients who would like to learn more about them.
  1. Even though the balloon is new to the USA, hundreds of thousands have been placed worldwide. The gastric balloon has been used in Europe for years to help people lose weight. Then trials began in the US to independently show the balloon is safe and effective, which earned it FDA approval. So even though it is a relative new procedure for us in America, hundreds of thousand of people worldwide have lost weight with the balloon.
  1. There are no ‘forbidden foods’ when you have the gastric balloon. Unlike some weight loss programs or procedures which have absolute limitations on eating certain foods, the balloon program does not have any forbidden foods. We focus on moderation and portion size, which is greatly helped by the balloon taking up room in your stomach. An occasional holiday treat, glass of wine, or slice of pizza are all options when you lose weight with the balloon.

If you are interested in learning more about the gastric balloon for weight loss, we’d love to speak with you. To ask us a question or schedule a consultation, please call our offices at (855) 690-0565.

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