Due to unhealthy eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, which is seen as a result, has become extremely widespread today. There are various methods used for obesity treatment. One of these is the gastric balloon, which is among the most popular non-surgical treatments.
A gastric balloon is an application placed inside the stomach of obese patients to help them eat less. This method facilitates weight loss by reducing calorie intake through the establishment of a feeling of fullness with smaller meals.
Known by names like weight loss balloon or gastric balloon, in this procedure, a balloon is inserted into the stomach and filled with air, saline solution, or a different liquid.
The volume of the balloon is adjusted based on the patient’s overall condition and weight. Typically, adjustments are made to occupy a volume of around 500-800 cc.
Filling a portion of the stomach with the balloon in this manner leads to the consumption of smaller portions. Furthermore, patients feel full for much longer, and hunger is delayed. This is precisely the main goal of the treatment.
Gastric balloon has different application options within itself. These are; endoscopic gastric balloon and swallowable gastric balloon (elipse).
· Endoscopic Gastric Balloon
The endoscopic gastric balloon is applied using endoscopic methods, as the name suggests. In this method, sedation is administered to the patient to ensure relaxation.
Eating and drinking should be stopped 8-12 hours before the procedure. Patients are also given necessary instructions regarding what to do.
A thin and flexible endoscope with a camera at its tip is inserted into the sedated patient’s stomach. The balloon is placed in the appropriate location.
The inserted balloon is filled with either saline or a different fluid that has been proven safe for human health. The amount of filling is determined based on the patient’s weight. However, generally, the aim is to cover more than half of the stomach with the balloon.
This procedure takes about 30-45 minutes on average. Since sedation is applied, the patient doesn’t feel any pain and remains calm throughout the process.
· Swallowable (Elipse) Gastric Balloon
The swallowable gastric balloon, also known as the elipse gastric balloon, is a new-generation application. In this method, sedation is not applied to the patient, and the patient doesn’t need to stay in the hospital.
The deflated balloon, attached to a wire, is swallowed by the patient with plenty of water. If swallowing is difficult, the patient is assisted in swallowing using a stylet.
Imaging methods are utilized to ensure the balloon is in the correct position. Once its correct placement is confirmed, the inflation process begins.
The balloon is filled with water to inflate it. Generally, 500 ml of water is used for inflation. The amount may vary depending on the patient’s condition.
The procedure takes around 20-30 minutes. After the procedure is completed, patients can immediately return to their daily lives.
The swallowable gastric balloon has a valve that can dissolve. This valve dissolves after approximately 4 months, and the water inside the balloon is released.
As the fluid is released, the balloon shrinks and is expelled through the digestive system. A different procedure is not required for balloon removal.
This method is much more preferred today due to its ease of application and the balloon’s ability to be expelled naturally from the body.
There are different types of gastric balloons used nowadays. The most commonly preferred ones include those inflated with air, those inflated with liquid, those made from adjustable materials, and intragastric balloons.
Options inflated with liquid are the most widespread both in our country and worldwide. Different colored saline solutions are usually used for their inflation.
The preference for different colors is important for easy detection of potential leaks. Leaks indicate the procedure’s failure and the need for replacement. However, liquids that leak into the stomach do not pose a risk to the patients’ health.
Those inflated with air are made of silicone and generally have a volume of 500-600 cc. The use of air reduces the occurrence of nausea. Moreover, no extra weight is added to the stomach and abdominal area.
Adjustable balloons made of silicone are one of the safest methods. The apparatus resembling a clip on the balloon prevents it from escaping into the small intestine in case the balloon deflates.
The intragastric method has recently started to become more common. It is not yet used in our country. In this method, capsules are swallowed and react with stomach acid to expand. These capsules, which are approximately 300 cc in volume, completely dissolve within 30 days and are excreted from the body.
A gastric balloon is a non-surgical method of treating obesity. Its non-invasive nature and facilitation of weight loss contribute to the popularity of this method. However, this treatment is only suitable for individuals who meet certain conditions.
The conditions that individuals receiving the treatment should meet are as follows:
Whether a patient is a suitable candidate for this treatment is determined by a specialized doctor after conducting appropriate evaluations.
Individuals who consume alcohol or drugs, those who have previously undergone laparoscopic obesity surgery, and those with stomach conditions such as ulcers or gastritis are not suitable candidates for this treatment. Additionally, individuals with inappropriate psychological conditions are not eligible for this treatment.
A gastric balloon is one of the most effective non-surgical methods used for weight loss. This method comes with numerous advantages and benefits. Here are the highlights:
When the instructions given after the treatment are followed, weight loss can occur rapidly. It is a non-surgical approach, eliminating the risk of complications associated with surgeries. It can be combined with other obesity treatments, enhancing weight loss effectiveness. The procedure boosts patients’ motivation for losing weight. It is a temporary and reversible method. Balloons are either removed or naturally expelled through digestion after a certain period, leaving no permanent alterations in the body. It is often more cost-effective compared to many other obesity treatments. If the desired goal is not achieved, the procedure can be repeated. The application duration is around 20-45 minutes, and patients can resume their daily activities immediately after the procedure.
Despite the numerous advantages and benefits of the treatment, there are also some disadvantages. These are as follows:
The treatment is applied for a limited period. After the treatment, the stomach returns to its previous size. This can lead to individuals struggling with appetite control regaining the weight they lost. Since each patient’s metabolism and habits are different, the effectiveness of the treatment varies from person to person. In some cases, the results may not meet the desired level. It does not guarantee weight loss on its own. In this treatment, a significant emphasis should be placed on diet and exercise. Regular check-ups and follow-up are important after the treatment.
Stomach balloon treatment is a temporary solution, and it is recommended that it stays in the stomach for a maximum of 6 months. While this duration may vary from person to person, long-term usage is not advised. Prolonged use can negatively impact the stomach and its functions.
The treatment doesn’t carry significant risks or side effects. The observed side effects generally resolve on their own shortly after. These include vomiting and nausea.
However, there are serious risks and side effects to consider. Although the occurrence rate of these is very low, they should be taken into account. Reflux, ulcers, gastric bleeding, obstruction, and perforation are serious risks.
To monitor these risks, patients should attend regular check-ups after the treatment.
The first few days after the treatment can be a bit uncomfortable for patients. During the initial three days, side effects such as nausea and cramps may occur. With dietary recommendations and medication support, these side effects can be overcome quickly.
In about 1-3% of patients, cramps and nausea can become persistent. In such a case, the balloon is removed, and the treatment is terminated. Therefore, it’s crucial for patients to monitor themselves closely and keep their doctors informed regularly.
During the post-treatment diet process, the diet prepared by the doctor, which is primarily liquid-based, should be followed. Thanks to this diet, the stomach and digestive system adapt to the new state quickly, and the digestion process returns to normal.
For the treatment to yield the desired results, it’s essential for patients to change their eating habits. High-calorie foods like fried dishes, processed foods, and acidic beverages should be avoided, and regular exercise should be incorporated.
The gastric balloon is a temporary treatment. Although the main goal of the treatment seems to be weight loss, the main goal is to help patients gain eating habits.
In this process, patients should get used to eating less food and eating a healthy diet. It should not be forgotten that part of the treatment is to gain eating habits.
Patients who change their eating habits in the desired direction do not gain weight after the gastric balloon is removed. They maintain their weight and ensure that the result they achieve is permanent.
Those who do not change their eating habits cannot achieve the desired result both during and after the treatment process. Especially those who return to their old eating habits after the treatment quickly regain the weight they lost.
Gastric balloon treatment gives the desired results when supported by diet and exercise and when you are psychologically ready