Written By: Emma Squillace

If you know you want to lose weight, two great options are weight loss surgery and a weight loss balloon. Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is proven to be a safe and effective means of losing a substantial amount of weight for many people. Not only do bariatric surgery patients tend to be successful in their weight loss, but they also have good results with maintaining their weight loss in the long term. Weight loss balloons are a newer option, and exciting because they are non-surgical. These devices are FDA approved, and are made to stay in the body for up to 6 months. For those trying to decide between weight loss surgery and a weight loss balloon, there are several important factors to take into account:

Permanent vs. Temporary

One important difference between surgery and a balloon, is that surgery is meant to be permanent, and a balloon is meant to be temporary.  The gastric balloon(s) stay in the body for up to 6 months. Once they are in place, you spend 6 months losing weight while you learn lifestyle habits that should allow you to continue your weight loss after they are removed, or maintain the weight loss you’ve achieved. However, you cannot keep the balloons in for more than 6 months. Some of our patients like the idea of a temporary device, and have used the balloons to lose weight before an important event like trying to get pregnant, a wedding, or to kickstart a lifetime of healthier living. On the other hand, some patients much prefer a change that is permanent – like a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass.

Cost and Insurance Coverage

Discussing the cost differences between weight loss surgery and a balloon is more involved than simply giving the price of each. The reason for this is that the balloons are not covered by insurance, so if you choose this option, you will be responsible for the whole cost. If you paid for surgery like the gastric sleeve or gastric bypass, it would cost considerably more than the weight loss balloons. However, in many cases, insurance will cover the cost of bariatric surgery. So although surgery is the more expensive procedure, it may cost you substantially less than a gastric balloon would. 

Procedure Day

There’s a fairly big difference in the day of your procedure, whether you have a balloon or a bariatric surgery. For surgery, you will need to arrive a few hours before we start, will be under deeper anesthesia, and may spend 1 to several nights in the hospital. If you are getting a weight loss balloon, you can arrive at our office shortly before your appointment starts. You will be giving light sedation, and will wake up after about half an hour. Then you will go home that afternoon.


Since the balloons are non-surgical, they have a substantially shorter recovery time than a surgical procedure. For this reason, some people prefer the weight loss balloon since they can be back at work within a few days. It’s important to anticipate that there is often some nausea that comes after a balloon placement, but this is generally much improved after about a week. After surgery, you should plan for a minimum of 1-2 weeks of recovery, depending on how physical your job is.

Although we’ve discussed the differences between the balloons and surgical procedures, there are also some significant similarities. Both have helped many people lose weight, and both depend primarily on your hard work. No matter what procedure you have, your commitment and lifestyle changes will be the ultimate factor in your weight loss journey. There is no perfect weight loss procedure, and that is why West Medical offers a range of options from non-surgical to surgical. If you would like to talk more about whether a balloon or surgery may be a better choice for you, please reach out to our team at 855-690-0565.

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