Gastric Balloon Surgery

Learn everything about your treatment

A gastric balloon can help you reach your long-term weight loss goals. It is a non-surgical device that helps with weight loss. In this procedure, a surgeon puts a deflated balloon into your stomach via your food pipe. Once in the stomach, they will then inflate the balloon with salt water.

  • Overview
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    Procedure time

    30 - 60 mins

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    Overnight stay

    0 - 1 night

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    Anaesthetic

    General or local with sedation

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    Recovery time

    12 Months

    The inflated balloon takes up around 1/3 of the stomach, meaning that you need to eat less food to feel full. This results in you losing weight as you start to eat less food over time.

    The balloon often stays in the stomach for 6-12 months. However, stomach acid damages the material over time and therefore it cannot stay in permanently.

    Who can have a gastric balloon?

    A gastric balloon provides an effective non-surgical option for patients struggling with weight loss. However, it is not suitable for everyone. It is most suitable for those who have a BMI of 28 to 35, and are prepared to make long-term changes to their diet and lifestyle.

    As part of your assessment, your surgeon will want to discuss your motivations for weight loss and check your BMI. Furthermore, they may want to discuss other weight loss procedures that might be more suitable for you.

    You may be suitable for a gastric balloon if you are looking to:

    • Lose weight before having another type of weight loss procedure, to help reduce the surgical risk
    • Want a non-surgical treatment for weight loss
    • Have a reversible weight loss procedure
    • Undergo a minimally invasive treatment that can be done with little interruption to daily life

    Where in the UK does Medbelle provide Gastric Balloon Surgery?

    Presently Medbelle is offering gastric balloon surgery in our London clinics, but will be expanding to all of the UK in 2019

    Benefits of weight loss procedures

    A gastric balloon procedure can help people achieve long-lasting weight loss, which comes with a number of benefits including:

    • Increased self-confidence
    • Better mood
    • Higher energy levels
    • Better mobility
    • Reduced risk of obesity-related medical conditions such as: Type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea and more.

  • Candidates

    Gastric balloon candidates

    Why choose to have a gastric balloon procedure?

    A gastric balloon is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure that can help people with weight loss.  There are a number of reasons why people are gastric balloon candidates. This page summarises the benefits of a gastric balloon and why people may choose to have one.

    Who is an ideal candidate for this procedure?

    A gastric balloon can provide a useful tool in aiding long term weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. However, it is not suitable for everyone. Patients must be committed to a supervised special diet while they are on the balloon and after it has been removed. In addition, people ideally suited for a gastric balloon should have a BMI of around 27-35. Furthermore, gastric balloons are non-surgical procedures and as a result the weight loss is not as significant, or as rapid, as surgical treatments.

    Overall, ideal candidates will be patient’s that have a BMI of around 27-35. In addition, they will be committed to long term weight loss and changes to their lifestyle. Therefore, they must be willing to work with dietitians and attend regular follow-up appointments. This is important in ensuring that the balloon works and helps to achieve the desired weight loss.

    Patients with a high BMI may also suit a gastric balloon if they suffer from any obesity related conditions. Long term weight loss may help improve conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and mobility problems. In addition, it can have a good effect on people’s mood and self-esteem.

    What a gastric balloon will not resolve

    Gastric balloon procedures offer a minimally invasive, non-surgical option for long term weight loss. However, there are certain issues they will not resolve. It is important that you discuss your goals in detail with your surgeon. That way they can ensure you are having the right treatment to get the results you want. Overall, a gastric balloon will not correct:

    Poor diet

    A gastric balloon works to make you feel fuller, faster. However, it will not influence the choice of food you eat. Therefore, if you are struggling with your diet, visiting a dietitian may be more beneficial than having a procedure.

    Rapid weight loss

    Gastric balloon procedures are beneficial as they avoid surgery and have minimal downtime. However, the results from a gastric balloon take longer compared to other weight loss procedures. Therefore, if you are looking to lose more weight over a shorter period of time, a gastric balloon may not be suitable.

    Massive weight loss

    It has been shown that a gastric balloon can help people lose up to 30% of their excess weight in the first 6 months. However, it is important to note that other weight loss procedures are associated with greater degrees of weight loss. In some cases, if your BMI is higher than 35, your surgeon may recommend a different weight loss procedure.

    Permanent changes

    A gastric balloon is only suitable to be in place for around 6 months. This is because the stomach acid can slowly wear away the material. Although this is not dangerous within the specified time limits, it means you will have to have another procedure to have the balloon removed. Other procedures, such as a gastric bypass, are permanent and do not need repeating.

    This page provides an overview of which candidates are suitable for a gastric balloon procedure. If you have any questions, or would like further information, speak to a Medbelle Patient Care Adviser today!

  • Procedure

    Gastric balloon procedure

    Performing a gastric balloon procedure

    Overall, a special tube with a camera at the end travels through the mouth, down the food pipe and into the stomach. Attached to the tube is a deflated balloon. The tube positions the balloon in the stomach and inflates it with a salt water solution. Inflating the balloon with water makes it take up space in the stomach. After inflating to the right size, the balloon stays in the stomach. The tube then passes up through the food pipe and out through your mouth. Your surgeon will discuss the procedure in more detail during your consultation.

    What to expect

    Consent

    Before you have your procedure, you will need to sign a consent form. This form provides information about the positives and negatives of the procedure. In addition, it describes the main risks and complications that can occur. Your surgeon will talk you through this form before you are able to sign it. If you have any concerns, feel free to talk your questions through with your surgeon. They will be more than happy to answer any queries you have. You should make sure that you fully understand what the procedure involves and the risks and complications. That way, you can be sure you are making the right decision whether or not to go ahead with the procedure.

    Anaesthesia

    Local anaesthetic, with or without sedation, is usually used during this procedure. Before you have your procedure you will meet with a specialist doctor called an anaesthetist. These doctors specialise in pain relief and comfort during surgery. The anaesthetist provides medications to help you feel more comfortable and relaxed. Once you have had your anaesthetic, you will be able to have the procedure.

    The procedure

    There are a variety of gastric balloon products available. Although they may vary from clinic to clinic, they are all inserted in a similar way.

    The balloon is put into the stomach via the mouth. To do this, an inserting tube attaches to the deflated balloon and is placed into the mouth. This tube has a tiny camera on the end and allows the surgeon to direct the tube. In addition, it is flexible and thin, allowing it to pass through the food pipe. The surgeon gradually advances the tube down your food pipe until it reaches the stomach. Special throat spray is applied to the back of the throat to make the process more comfortable. Once in the stomach, a salt water liquid immediately fills the balloon. After inflating to the right size, the balloon floats in the stomach. The surgeon removes the tube, out of the food pipe and mouth and the procedure is complete. Overall, this process takes from 15-30 minutes.

    After the procedure

    Once you have had the procedure, you will return to the ward to recover. During this time, the medical team will monitor you and make sure you aren’t in any pain. You may find that your throat is numb or sore and that you feel a bit groggy. Generally, you will be able to go home on the same day. However, it is unlikely that you will be able to drive. Therefore, you should make sure you have transport arranged. It is also a good idea to ask a friend or family member to stay with you for the first 24 hours after your procedure.

    This page provides an overview of what to expect from the procedure. If you would like any other information, please contact your Medbelle Patient Care Adviser.

  • Your consultation

    Gastric balloon consultation

    What to expect from your consultation

    A pre-operative consultation is an important part of any procedure. Before having a gastric balloon fitted, you will need to meet your surgeon. At this meeting, you will discuss a number of different aspects to the procedure. This includes discussing why you want to have the treatment, as well as aspects of your medical history. The gastric balloon consultation is a chance for you to find out more about the procedure. In addition, it will help your surgeon to find out more about you. Overall, this will allow you to come to a decision about whether a gastric balloon is the right procedure to help you meet your goals.

    The consultation format

    The meeting generally lasts between 45 minutes to 1 hour. Your surgeon will ask you about your medical history, any current medications and any previous operations you have had. In addition, they will want to find out why you are looking to have a weight loss procedure. As part of this they may talk to you about any other methods of weight loss that you have tried in the past. Long-term weight loss is a big commitment and can be very challenging. Therefore, your surgeon will want to make sure you fully understand what to expect from the operation and follow up care.

    BMI

    As part of their assessment, your surgeon may have to take some measurements such as your height and weight. This is because they will need to work out your BMI. Your BMI value helps the surgeon decide whether a gastric balloon is appropriate for you. In some cases, other forms of weight loss surgery may be more suitable for patients with a higher BMI. This will be discussed in more detail during your consultation.

    Risks and benefits

    Your surgeon will also discuss the risks and benefits of having a weight loss procedure. No procedure is without risk, therefore it is important that you are aware of the potential complications that can occur. In doing so, you can be sure you are fully informed before deciding to commit to having a gastric balloon.

    What to ask at your consultation

    Your consultation is an opportunity for you to find out more about a gastric balloon procedure. Therefore we advise you to think of any questions that you may like to ask before meeting your surgeon. It is a good idea to write these questions down, that way you can be sure you have covered everything you wanted to know. There’s no such thing as a silly question. Your surgeon will be happy to address any concerns that you may have. Remember, they are there for your safety and comfort and will want to know you feel happy about the procedure.

    Here are some questions that you might like to ask:

    • Do you think what I want to achieve is realistic?
    • How much weight should I expect to lose?
    • How much weight have your previous patients lost after this procedure?
    • Is the procedure reversible?
    • What will the recovery process involve?
    • How many follow-up appointments will I need?
    • Do you work with a dietitian as part of your team?

  • Risks & complications

    Gastric balloon risks and complications

    What are the main gastric balloon risks and complications?

    Any procedure carries potential risks and complications. In deciding whether or not to have surgery, it is important that you are aware of what can go wrong. This helps ensure that you are making a fully informed decision. On this page, you will find the main gastric balloon risks and complications. Your surgeon will talk you about these in more detail during your consultation. They will also remind you of these risks before you sign a consent form. We recommend a two week “cooling off” period between the consultation and the procedure . This will give you time to think about whether surgery is right for you. In addition, it will allow time to ask any additional questions or find out more information.

    Nausea and sea-sickness

    In the initial days post-op, it is likely that you will feel generally nauseous. In addition, your stomach may feel uncomfortable. The stomach takes time to get used to having less space. With time, these feelings generally subside. However, some patients find they their nausea and sea-sickness does not improve with time. In these cases, deflating and removing the balloon helps the nausea. Other alternative weight-loss procedures can be tried instead.

    Abdominal and back pain

    In some cases, the balloon makes the stomach feel stretched. This can cause a feeling of pain which can be difficult to localise. As a result, you may feel pain around the tummy or back area which is hard to pin point. This resolves with time as your stomach adjusts to having the balloon in place.

    Vomiting and indigestion

    Once you have had the balloon fitted, you will be unable to eat as much as you did previously. This happens as the stomach no longer has as much space inside. Your surgeon will provide details about what to eat after surgery. However, it may take some time to get used to the new diet. As a result, you may find that you eat more than your stomach can tolerate. This can lead to vomiting and feelings of indigestion. Your surgeon may be able to provide anti-reflux medications to help with any indigestion or reflux.

    Balloon rupture

    A salt-water solution inflates the balloon until it reaches the right size. In rare cases, the balloon may have too much water inside, or the pressure to great. As a result, the balloon can rupture whilst it is in the stomach. Complications such as this are very rare. Afterwards, the balloon passes through the bowel and is expelled naturally. Please contact your surgeon if you notice increasing pain or feel as though the balloon has burst.

    Injury during balloon insertion or removal

    The surgeon uses a long tube with a camera attached to insert the balloon. The tube travels through the mouth, down the food pipe and into the stomach. To remove the balloon, the tube travels down into the stomach once more and deflates the balloon. The tube removes the balloon via the food pipe and mouth. In some cases, this process can cause damage to the mouth or food pipe. This may lead to bleeding, pain or discomfort.

    Infection

    Infection is a risk that can occur with any procedure. Using sterile equipment helps reduce the risk of infection . However, it can still occur. Signs of infection include:

    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhoea
    • A fever
    • Pain uncontrolled by painkillers

    Please contact your surgeon if you have concerns about infection.

    In summary, this overview page provides information on the main gastric balloon risks and complications. If you would like more information, please contact your surgeon or a Medbelle Patient Care Adviser.

  • Preparing for your treatment

    Gastric balloon preparation

    How to prepare for your procedure

    Having a gastric balloon can be quite daunting. However, being as prepared as possible can help make the journey easier. As a result, we have created this gastric balloon preparation page. On this page we have highlighted some general tips that you may find useful when preparing for this procedure. In addition, your surgeon will discuss how to prepare during your consultation. They will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

    Grocery shopping

    A gastric balloon procedure is minimally invasive and has little downtime. Therefore you should be feeling back to your normal self soon after surgery. However, it is unlikely that you will want to be going to the shops in the days after the procedure. As a result, it is a good idea to do a big food shop one or two days before you have the operation. This will also allow you to prepare any special meals you may need after having the balloon fitted.

    Food and drink

    Once you have had the gastric balloon fitted, you will have to follow a special diet. This includes only eating liquid foods in the first few days, before moving on to purees and eventually solids. Your surgeon will discuss your dietary plan for after the operation in more detail. In order to save time and hassle, it may be a good idea to prepare some meals and freeze them down before the procedure. That way you don’t have to worry about cooking and instead can focus on your recovery.

    Household chores

    You are likely to feel generally tired and lethargic after having a gastric balloon fitted. Therefore we recommend getting household chores out the way before having the procedure. This will allow you to have more time to relax once you have had the operation.

    Young children and pets

    It can be difficult looking after young children and pets after having a procedure. Although you may want them to be around while you recover from the treatment, it can make the recovery process more tiring. As a result, it may be a good idea to ask a family member or friends if they will help look after any young children or pets for the first few days after the operation.

    Travel

    After the procedure, it is unlikely that you will be safe to drive. Therefore it is a good idea to arrange for transport to take you home afterwards. You may want to ask a relative or friend to take you home. Alternatively, we can help arrange transport if you wish!

    In summary, this page provides a general overview of how to prepare for a gastric balloon procedure. Please speak to your Medbelle Patient Care Adviser, or your surgeon, if you would like any further advice on how to prepare.

  • Aftercare

    Gastric balloon aftercare

    What to expect after a gastric balloon procedure

    The recovery process is an important part of having any procedure. It is therefore helpful to know what to expect after having a gastric balloon fitted. This gastric balloon aftercare page provides information on what to expect during the recovery process. You will also discuss this with your surgeon during your consultation.

    You should try to follow your surgeon’s instructions closely. This will help ensure that the recovery process is as smooth as possible. In addition, it will help reduce the risk of complications occurring. These can have a negative impact on the final result.

    As a gastric balloon is minimally invasive, the recovery should be quite straightforward. As a result, you should be able to return to normal activities quickly.

    Directly after the procedure

    After the gastric balloon has been fitted, you will return to the ward to recover. Once you are on the ward, the medical team will monitor you and check that you do not have any pain. You may feel some numbness or discomfort in your throat. This can be eased with painkillers. In addition, if a sedative is used, you may feel a bit groggy whilst you are on the ward. This will get better as you recover. If you have any issues while you are on the ward, make sure to let the medical team know. They are there for your safety and comfort and will be happy to help.

    Returning home

    The majority of patients go home on the day of their procedure. However, in some cases, your surgeon may recommend you spend a night on the ward. They will inform you of this either during your consultation or on the day of your treatment. You should not drive after the procedure. Therefore we suggest speaking to a friend or family member to assist with going home. If you need to arrange transport, we can help with this.

    Symptoms after a gastric balloon procedure

    After a having your gastric balloon fitted, you may experience some common symptoms. These include imbalance (similar to sea sickness), nausea, gastric discomfort and vomiting. This happens because your stomach has to get used to having the balloon in place. The symptoms generally improve within the first few days. In rare cases, your stomach may not tolerate the balloon and the symptoms may get worse. If this is the case, the balloon will have to be removed.

    Returning to work

    Overall, you should be able to return to work within one or two days. This will largely depend on how much nausea and discomfort the balloon initially causes. You may want to book more time off work than one or two days, in case it takes longer to recover.

    Returning to exercise and activities

    Part of a long-term weight loss program will include regular exercise. Therefore it is important you can return to exercise quickly. Thankfully a gastric balloon has minimal downtime and you should be able to return to exercise soon after the procedure. Your levels of nausea and discomfort influences how soon you will be able to return to exercise. Following your surgeon’s dietary advice and recovery instructions will help.

    Food and drink

    Having a gastric balloon will require you to follow a strict diet regime suggested by your surgeon. As your stomach adapts to having less space, you will have to change what you eat. In the first few days, you will only be able to have liquids. This will then progress to liquids and soft foods and eventually you will be able to have solids again. Your surgeon and dietitian will discuss this with you during your consultation and follow up appointments. If you try to eat more than you should, you may find it will cause discomfort, vomiting and reflux. As a result, it is important you follow the instructions closely.

    Follow up appointments

    The vast majority of patients will have their gastric balloon as part of a long term weight loss plan. As a result, continuous follow up with your surgeon and weight loss team is an important part of the recovery process. These appointments will include monitoring your weight and discussing your food intake. They may adjust your dietary and exercise requirements depending on your progress.

    Final results

    Long term weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. Therefore it may be some time before you reach your target weight. Having a procedure such as a gastric balloon can help on this journey. However it will not be as successful without working closely with your surgeon and their team. Most patients have their gastric balloon removed at six months. In some cases, they may have another balloon fitted or undergo a different procedure. This will depend on how well it has helped you to reach your target goal. The process is likely to be ongoing and is not always easy! However you should remember that your surgeon and their team are there to help you along the way.

    We hope you have found this page useful in preparing for a gastric balloon procedure. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact your surgeon or Medbelle Patient Care Adviser.

  • FAQs

    What are the common gastric balloon FAQs?

    It is important that you feel very well informed about your procedure. It is therefore important to ask your surgeon any questions that you have. Some patients find it difficult to think of questions at their consultation. As a result, we recommend you to write down what you would like to ask so you do not forget. That way you can take them with you and will remember to ask them during your consultation. This page provides some common gastric balloon FAQs that our other patients find useful and may help you think of questions to ask your surgeon.

    When will I see the final results from my Gastric Balloon Surgery?

    Going through a successful long-term weight loss program is a marathon, not a sprint. You will have to make several lifestyle adjustments as part of having a gastric balloon fitted. These include changing your diet and exercise levels. In addition, you will have regular follow-ups with your surgeon and dietitian. It can therefore be difficult to know how long it will take before you reach your target weight. However, following your medical team’s advice and instructions closely will bring you closer to achieving the results you are looking for.

    Can I eat normally after Gastric Balloon surgery?

    A gastric balloon fills around a third of the stomach, meaning there is less space for food. The balloon can also cause some discomfort, especially in the first few days. As a result, you will be unable to eat as much as you did before. You may also have to take more care of what you eat.

    During the first few weeks after the procedure, you will be given a special diet to follow. For the first few days, you will only be able to eat liquid foods. Eventually, you can begin to eat soft foods and then solid foods after that. This diet can last for up to 3 weeks. Your surgeon will however, provide you with specific instructions which you should follow strictly.

    Is a gastric balloon permanent?

    Gastric balloons are not supposed to be left in permanently. This is because the acidic conditions of the stomach can damage the balloon material. As a result, they can safely stay in place for 6 to 12 months. After this time you will have to have your current balloon removed. However, if you still require a gastric balloon, you can have another one put in.

    Will the NHS pay for my weight loss procedure?

    Currently, there is a small number of certain weight loss procedures that are available on the NHS. However, you may also find that some NHS providers do not offer procedures such as a gastric balloon. The majority of patients looking for weight loss procedures will have to pay for it privately.