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Obesity is a serious health problem that is one of the leading diseases that many people from different age groups suffer from today. People who complain about their excess weight cannot always lose the weight they want, with a regular diet and exercise. In this case, bariatric surgery, which consists of various procedures that can be applied to different patients, comes into play.

What is a Gastric Balloon?

The gastric balloon is a method that is applied to help weight loss and does not require a surgical procedure. It helps to improve the health status of patients who want to lose their excess weight and are not suitable for other bariatric surgery procedures. In addition, the gastric balloon procedure can be applied to achieve weight loss before bariatric surgery in order to reduce the risk in patients who are extremely obese and have a high risk of surgery.

How is the Gastric Balloon Placed?

A camera called an endoscopy is used to place the gastric balloon in the stomach of the patients. Before the procedure, the patient should not have consumed water and food for 8 hours. After sedation is applied to the patient, although the patient is in a state of sleep, they are not fully conscious. However, the patient does not feel any pain and does not remember anything. 

During the gastric balloon placement procedure, the patient’s stomach and duodenum are checked to determine whether there is an obstacle to the procedure. If there is no obstacle to the procedure, the gastric balloon is sent into the stomach and the next step is taken.

The gastric balloon is inflated by monitoring the process through the endoscope. At this stage, physiological saline is used, to which a paint called air or methylene blue is added. The balloon is inflated until it reaches a volume of 450 to 600 cc. The patient rests for a while after the application. If no unusual condition is detected, the patient can be discharged.

What Should Be Done After the Gastric Balloon Procedure?

After the gastric balloon procedure is completed, it is possible for the patient to experience abdominal pain in the form of vomiting, nausea, and stomach cramps approximately 4 to 5 hours after the gastric balloon is placed in the patient’s stomach. Although the duration of such complaints varies by patient, they can last for about 3 to 7 days. These complaints begin to decrease within a few days and disappear completely. In this process, various drugs can be prescribed to reduce the patient’s complaint. 

The most difficult period for patients with gastric balloon application is the first week when symptoms may be experienced, and during this period, the patient should follow only a liquid nutrition program. On the other hand, the number of patients who do not experience any side effects after gastric balloon application is extremely high.

How to Remove Gastric Balloon?

At the end of the 6-month period, the gastric balloon is removed with the endoscopic method where the patient is sedated. The patient should follow a liquid diet for 3 days before the gastric balloon is removed. Thus, it is possible to clean the food residues stuck around the gastric balloon. During the procedure, an apparatus is sent to the stomach and the liquid in the balloon is emptied, then the balloon is caught with a special holder and taken out of the stomach. Approximately 1 hour after the procedure, which takes 15 to 20 minutes on average, the patient can continue their daily life.

How Much Weight Is Lost with Gastric Balloon?

The basic mechanism that provides the effect of the gastric balloon is that it partially takes up space in the stomach, restricts food intake and helps to create a feeling of being full. With this method, patients can lose 15% to 20% of their total body weight within six months. Weight loss and the amount of weight lost are directly related to one’s determination to make proper nutrition and regular exercise a lifestyle habit. Although it varies depending on various factors, the amount of weight lost can reach 30 – 40 kg, depending on the diet and exercise programs.

In this process, where the patient’s stability is the most important factor, it may be possible not to lose weight at the desired rate with the gastric balloon. If the patient does not continue to apply the lifestyle changes that they gained during the period when the gastric balloon was removed, does not exercise regularly and does not change their eating habits, they can regain the lost weight because the gastric balloon is not a procedure that provides permanent changes in the stomach.

What Are the Risks of a Gastric Balloon?

The gastric balloon is not applied with a surgical procedure. In addition, it does not cause permanent changes in the stomach. Therefore, the risk of serious side effects after gastric balloon placement is rare.

It is considered normal to experience pain and nausea for 3 to 7 days, starting in the first hours after the gastric balloon is placed. In this process, drugs that increase the patient’s comfort can be prescribed. If the patient does not get enough fluid due to factors that reduce their comfort, it may be necessary to administer relaxant drugs through serum or intravenous line.

Although rare, there is a risk of the balloon deflating after gastric balloon application. Such a situation can be understood by seeing the methylene blue liquid, used to inflate the balloon, in the urine. If the balloon is suspected to be deflated, it should be removed if it is in the stomach so that it does not cause intestinal obstruction. If the balloon is not in the stomach, it should be closely monitored that it is expelled from the body in normal ways.

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