How Painful Is a Gastric Balloon?

Gastric balloon surgery can be defined as a temporary obesity treatment that helps to lose weight by reducing the volume of the stomach without surgery. As part of the gastric balloon procedure, the deflated gastric balloon is placed in the patient’s stomach with the help of an endoscope. The gastric balloon filled with salt water is removed from the stomach after about 6 months. Since the stomach volume of the patient is reduced in this process, the patient is made to feel fuller with less food and the process of gradually losing weight is supported.

What is a Gastric Balloon?

Gastric balloon is a smooth, soft and durable balloon made of silicone rubber. The gastric balloon, which is designed to reduce the volume of the stomach and thus help the patient feel full with less food, is available in a swallowable type as well as the type that is placed with the endoscopic method.

In cases where the type of gastric balloon placed by endoscopic method is used, the deflated balloon is placed into the stomach by the doctor with an endoscope. Then, the balloon is filled with saline solution, that is, salt water, to cover a certain volume in the stomach. Thus, although the patient consumes less food than normal, he reaches the feeling of satiety faster. The fact that the feeling of satiety can be maintained for a long time ensures that there is less hunger between meals.

During the gastric balloon application, the patient does not feel any pain. However, the patient may experience minimal discomfort for periods ranging from a few days to a few weeks after the gastric balloon procedure. In case of prolonged pain and discomfort, it is recommended to consult a doctor without delay.

Who is Eligible for Gastric Balloon?

Although gastric balloon application stands out as an easy, effective and comfortable method, it is not possible to apply a gastric balloon procedure to every patient. Patients to whom gastric balloon will be applied are required to meet certain conditions, and after certain evaluations are made for each patient, the decision of suitability for the operation is made.

It is required that the patients who will undergo the gastric balloon procedure have not been able to lose weight with various lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise or medications. The body mass index value, which reflects the relationship between an individual’s weight and height, should be in the range of 30 to 40. However, in some cases, people with a body mass index lower than 30 or higher than 40 may also have a gastric balloon procedure.

How is Gastric Balloon Application Made?

The procedure for placing the gastric balloon with the endoscope is completed in an average of 15 to 20 minutes. A sleeve-like, illuminated, flexible and narrow camera called an endoscope is used to insert the balloon into the stomach. Since the patient is under sedation, there is no pain or discomfort.

After the endoscope is placed in the patient’s mouth, the patient’s esophagus, stomach and small intestine are examined to ensure that there is no problem such as gastric ulcer or hiatal hernia that would reduce the reliability of gastric balloon application. If no problem is detected, a narrow sleeve called a catheter is placed next to the endoscope and a deflated gastric balloon is attached to its end. Using the endoscope, the catheter is guided through the esophagus into the stomach.

After the gastric balloon is in place, the balloon is filled with saline until it is the size of a grapefruit. The endoscope is used to separate the catheter from the balloon that closes with the valve. The filled balloon is left in the stomach and the endoscope and catheter are removed.

After gastric balloon application, patients can continue their daily lives, the procedure does not require hospitalization.

Side Effects of Gastric Balloon Application

Nausea, vomiting or stomach cramps may occur for several days after the gastric balloon is placed in the patient’s stomach. In this process, taking drugs prescribed by the doctor can improve the patient’s quality of life.

Although rare, the gastric balloon may deflate after it is placed in the stomach, and it may go out of the stomach and block the intestines. After the gastric balloon is placed, the esophagus or stomach may be perforated. After the gastric balloon is placed, it may become excessively inflated for unknown reasons and may need to be removed early. In order to prevent such rare complications, the decision of suitability for the gastric balloon procedure should be made after detailed patient-specific evaluations. In addition, specialists and experienced doctors in this field should be preferred.

Losing Weight with Gastric Balloon

During the first two weeks after the gastric balloon is inserted, the patients should follow a liquid diet and then gradually switch to a normal diet. Since the process of getting used to the gastric balloon may be different for each patient, it is very important to follow the doctor’s instructions exactly.

Patients usually lose weight quickly within the first 3 to 4 months after the gastric balloon is placed. Typically, most patients lose 10 to 15% of their body weight by completing a 6-month gastric balloon program.

However, the gastric balloon can also be used as part of a much more comprehensive weight loss approach. Making lifestyle habits such as healthy eating and regular exercise permanent in the long term will prevent patients from regaining weight after the gastric balloon is removed.