What Is the Gastric Balloon Used for?

People who have overweight problems generally prefer to use different methods to solve their weight problems. Gastric balloon, one of these methods, plays an effective role in the treatment of obesity, one of the most common problems of today. In addition to being overweight, people with obesity problems have a high risk of experiencing health problems such as endocrine and various system diseases, difficulty in movement or inability to move at all, and cardiovascular disease. These health problems can negatively affect people’s quality of life.

In addition to its physical effects on the body, obesity can also cause psychological effects. People who want to get rid of obesity may not always achieve the desired results, even if they do regular diet and exercise. The reason for this is that some people cannot adhere to these programs for various reasons, and some people cannot lose enough weight due to various factors, even if they comply with their diet and exercise programs. If people with obesity problems cannot continue their diet programs regularly because they cannot get rid of the feelings of hunger or the failure to feel full, the use of the gastric balloon method may be on the agenda.

The gastric balloon is not a surgical procedure, although it is a worldwide proven treatment method for the treatment of obesity. If necessary, the gastric balloon method can be preferred as a preparation for bariatric surgery. General anesthesia is not required during the procedure, in which a balloon filled with water or air is placed in the patient’s stomach.

How is the Gastric Balloon Placed?

The decision of suitability for the gastric balloon procedure is made after the evaluations made for each patient. The patient must have an 8-hour fast on the day of the application. It may be preferred in cases where it is possible to increase the fasting period to 10 hours. No different preparation is required for the gastric balloon procedure. For the application of the procedure, the patient is administered a sedative by opening an intravenous line, and the patient is put into a semi-sleeping position.

If it is necessary for the patient, it is possible to choose the method of complete sleep. In such cases, the patient is put to sleep for only about 15 minutes without stopping breathing. Regardless of the method chosen, the gastric balloon is a painless and comfortable procedure.

During the placement of the gastric balloon inside the patient’s stomach, an illuminated and small camera called an endoscope is used. The camera projects images to monitors outside. Thus, the doctor can perform the procedure by viewing the internal structure of the stomach in detail and clearly.

The camera, which is lowered to the stomach through the patient’s esophagus, is approximately 1 cm thick. Thus, not only the stomach of the patient, but also the esophagus and duodenum are examined. During the procedure, a detailed endoscopic examination is also performed on the patient, and it is checked whether there is gastritis, ulcer, reflux, or suspicious lesion at a level that will prevent the placement of a gastric balloon. If such a situation is not detected, the gastric balloon is inflated into the stomach.

After the gastric balloon is lowered into the stomach, the stomach is inflated. While the balloon is inflated, physiological saline with added paint in methylene blue color is used. The reason why the balloon is inflated with colored paint is that if there is a leak or a hole in the gastric balloon for any reason, the patient can notice this situation while meeting their toilet needs. Thus, possible complications can be easily noticed, and necessary precautions can be taken.

After the gastric balloon is placed in the patient’s stomach, the procedure is completed by inflating it with air or blue-colored serum until it reaches a volume of 450 to 500 cc. The patient, who is awakened when the procedure is over, is usually discharged after a few hours of rest. After the gastric balloon is placed, patients can continue their daily lives, provided that they pay attention to certain points.

What Should Be Considered After Gastric Balloon Placement?

After the gastric balloon is placed, the patient may experience symptoms such as stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting for a short time. Unless these symptoms are very severe, they are considered normal because there is a foreign body placed in the stomach. 

In order to alleviate the possible symptoms that may be encountered after gastric balloon application, some gastroprotective drugs or painkillers may be prescribed to the patient. Such side effects usually disappear on their own 3 to 4 days after the gastric balloon is placed. If the symptoms do not disappear for a long time after the procedure or if they continue at the same severity without any tendency to alleviate, it may be necessary to remove the gastric balloon. However, this situation is rarely encountered.

There is no weight restriction for patients who will have a gastric balloon placed. The important thing is not the weight of the patient, but their body mass index. The gastric balloon method, also known as an intragastric balloon, is not a surgical operation and is extremely safe. However, as is the case with every procedure, there are some risks in the gastric balloon procedure. The most common risks in patients with a gastric balloon placed are abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.

The gastric balloon does not burst due to its structure. However, there is a very rare risk of perforation of the gastric balloon in case of extremely high acidity in the stomach contents.