Gastric balloon is a reversible, incision free weight loss procedure. Also called the intragastric balloon.The concept is simple. A deflated soft silicone gastric balloon is inserted into the stomach via the mouth and filled with liquid or air, reducing the amount of food the stomach can hold and causing the patient to feel fuller faster. The balloon can be left in place for up to six months. Once removed, the stomach — and sometimes the patient’s appetite — returns to normal.

The gastric balloon procedure may be right for someone who needs to lose weight before an upcoming, once-in-a-lifetime event, such as a wedding or high school reunion. It can also help individuals better comply with prescribed diets. Unlike with other weight loss surgeries which require a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, you only need a BMI of 27 or above to undergo the gastric balloon procedure. As a result, it is a weight loss option for lighter individuals who may not be candidates for other forms of bariatric surgery.

On the flip side, the gastric balloon procedure also may help severely obese people jump-start massive weight loss. In these cases, it also can be useful before another type of bariatric surgery such as gastric bypass if a person is deemed too obese to safely undergo a more invasive surgery. Risks of bariatric surgery are increased among individuals with a body mass index greater than 60 and/or those with certain obesity-related health conditions. The gastric balloon procedure can help a person reach a safer weight before undergoing surgery. Some obesity-related health problems (including high blood pressure, diabetes and sleep apnea) may also improve as a result of gastric balloon weight loss, further increasing the safety of future bariatric surgery.

The gastric balloon procedure is performed under sedation or general anesthesia.

The procedure usually takes 20 to 30 minutes to perform. No overnight hospital stay is required. In fact, you can usually go home three hours after the balloon is inserted and inflated. Some doctors prefer a patient stay overnight in the hospital.

Your bariatric surgeon will numb your throat with an anesthetic spray to allow for easier insertion of the deflated balloon. The balloon is inserted using tiny, endoscopic instruments, including a pencil-shaped probe with a tiny camera attached to it which helps the surgeon to visualize the area.

A small tube or catheter is attached to the balloon. Your surgeon will fill the balloon with approximately 400-700 ml of the saline solution or air and then remove the catheter. The balloon has a self-sealing valve. It floats freely inside the stomach. When full, the gastric balloon is too large to pass into the bowel.

The Gastric Balloon works in 3 ways:

The gastric balloon takes up space within the stomach which restricts how much you can eat

A gastric balloon slows down the time it takes to digest food which means that a small amount of food satisfies you for longer

The presence of the gastric balloon sends a message to the brain to register that the the stomach is full .