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What Is a Gastric Balloon?

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According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), approximately two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Many people who need help losing weight are not ready to undergo surgery. At West Medical, we offer gastric balloons to qualified candidates as a non-surgical approach to weight loss.

So what is a gastric balloon?

A gastric balloon is a temporary, non-invasive weight loss treatment option that involves no incisions or scars. This new technology reduces the capacity of the stomach, encouraging eating healthier portions for six months to help patients achieve up to three times the weight loss as they would with diet and exercise alone. This safe treatment does not involve making permanent changes to the digestive system.

How Do Gastric Balloons Work?

A gastric balloon is a soft, silicone balloon. With the patient under light anesthesia, the deflated balloon is inserted into the stomach through the throat and esophagus, in a non-invasive endoscopic procedure, or in some cases, by swallowing a balloon capsule, in which case no anesthesia is required. After the balloon is placed in the stomach it is inflated through a thin, attached tube with either sterile saline solution or a special gas, depending on the type of gastric balloon.

The balloon remains in the stomach for six months, taking up space, helping you eat smaller, healthier portions, accelerating weight loss. After the six-month period, the gastric balloon is deflated and removed in a quick endoscopic procedure under light anesthesia, similar to the procedure for insertion.

What Are the Different Gastric Balloon Types?

At West Medical, we are proud to provide a variety of types of gastric balloons for our patients. For qualifying patients, we may recommend one of several FDA-approved gastric balloon treatments, including Orbera, Obalon, and ReShape.

Orbera Gastric Balloon

The FDA-approved Orbera gastric balloon has helped 220,000 people worldwide lose weight and keep it off, as stated by the manufacturer. Orbera is a soft, durable gastric balloon, designed to fit comfortably in the stomach. It is inserted in a simple, outpatient procedure that takes only 20 to 30 minutes and allows most patients to return home the same day.

Most patients treated with Orbera balloons experience the greatest amount of weight loss during the first three months after the balloons are placed in stomach. As the balloon remains in the stomach for a full six months, patients learn to eat the correct quantity of food to maintain a healthier weight. In addition, a team of knowledgeable coaches provides support during the 12-month Orbera program to help patients manage weight for the long term.

Learn more about Orbera gastric balloon »

Obalon Gastric Balloons

Obalon is a gastric balloon system. It is the first and only swallowable, three-balloon weight loss system approved by the FDA. The Obalon balloon placement procedure requires no anesthesia and usually takes less than 10 minutes to insert. This is a convenient, “lunch hour” procedure with very little or no downtime for the patient.

Each of the three Obalon balloons is placed in the stomach in a separate treatment session, two weeks apart. The patient simply swallows the balloon capsule, similar to a pill, with a thin tube attached for inflation purposes. The position of the capsule in the stomach is confirmed by X-ray, and then the doctor inflates the balloon with gas and removes the thin tube from the mouth.

Each fully inflated Obalon balloon is approximately the size of a small orange and weighs approximately three grams. These light, buoyant balloons float at the top of the stomach. As they are placed one at a time over a period of months, they facilitate progressive weight loss with greater comfort for the patient.

The Obalon balloon treatment includes an exercise program and nutritional guidelines to help patients jump start and maintain weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. At the end of six months after the first balloon was placed, the balloons are removed in a non-invasive, endoscopic procedure performed under light sedation, with no permanent changes to the patient’s anatomy.

Learn more about Obalon gastric balloon »

ReShape Gastric Balloon

Like other gastric balloons, ReShape is a nonsurgical weight loss system. This is the only FDA-approved dual weight loss system available in the USA. ReShape has a higher capacity to take up space in the stomach than a single gastric balloon system, to help you feel fuller faster and accelerate weight loss.

These dual balloons are gently inserted through the mouth in a single, endoscopic procedure, with no incisions or scars and no X-rays required. The procedure can be performed in the doctor’s office in approximately 20 minutes. The patient receives coaching support throughout the entire program.

The ReShape dual balloon system has been clinically proven to help patients lose up to twice the weight as with diet and exercise alone, and most patients keep the weight off and continue to lose after the balloons are removed from the stomach. The balloons conform to the natural shape of the stomach for improved comfort. One advantage of this system is that it prioritizes safety – the dual balloon system minimizes the risk of balloon migration into the intestinal tract

Learn more about ReShape gastric balloon »

Who Is a Good Candidate for a Gastric Balloon?

One important advantage of the gastric balloon treatment option is that more patients qualify for it than for weight loss surgery. The gastric balloon is a non-invasive weight loss tool that can help men and women shed pounds in the short term and the long term.

Not everyone is good candidate for the gastric balloon. At West Medical, each patient is evaluated on an individual basis. The following are general guidelines to help you determine if you may qualify for gastric balloon treatment.

  • BMI greater than 27 and at risk for or being treated for obesity-related disease.
  • Have tried but have not been unsuccessful with diet and exercise at losing weight and keeping it off.
  • No previous bariatric surgery or bowel or stomach problems.
  • Want to avoid undergoing bariatric surgery.
  • No complicating medical issues, such as acid reflux or severe hernia.
  • Agree to participate in a program to learn weight loss strategies and control.

The best way to find out if you are a good candidate for gastric balloon treatment is to schedule a consultation with a weight loss physician. After an in-depth consultation and careful evaluation, our bariatric surgeon at West Medical can recommend the best weight loss treatment option for you.

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