Answering FAQs About Gastric Balloon Surgery
Bariatric surgery may be an effective way to lose weight, but if you’re looking for a safer and temporary weight loss solution, the gastric balloon could be a better alternative. If you want more questions answered about why the gastric balloon might be the right choice for you, the FAQs below will help you make an informed decision.
What Is the Gastric Balloon?
Unlike bariatric surgery, the gastric balloon is a non-surgical solution for people who want to lose weight. Although there are several types of gastric balloon procedures, they typically have the same features. For instance, no surgery is involved whatsoever, the procedure is outpatient, meaning there’s a shorter recovery period, and the procedure is also temporary and completely reversible.
The main function of a gastric balloon is to help people that want to lose weight by restricting the amount they can eat. As mentioned, there are different brands of gastric balloon treatment on the market, and they may work a little differently. Some brands allow you to leave the balloon in for a longer period, while others require several applications throughout your weight loss journey. In any case, most brands are focused on helping you substitute unhealthy eating habits with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
How Does the Gastric Balloon Work?
The way the gastric balloon works mainly depends on the brand. For instance, The Obera Gastric balloon is a single balloon that’s inserted into your stomach. During the procedure, the doctor will insert a small capsule attached to the catheter using an endoscope. An endoscope is a thin, lighted instrument that has a camera attached to the tip. It allows the doctor to see what’s happening in your stomach, so they can complete the procedure successfully.
Once the capsule reaches your stomach is filled with a saline solution until it’s fully inflated, thus forming the balloon.
When the balloon rests in your stomach, it typically occupies about a third of the stomach’s volume. Another gastric balloon brand, called the Obalon gastric balloon brand, consists of three separate balloons. The procedure begins with you swallowing each capsule like you would a pill. The capsule will be attached to a catheter that remains outside your mouth, and once the capsule is in your stomach, it’s inflated via the catheter.
These three balloons take up more space in the stomach. With both these brands, the purpose is to reduce the amount of room in your stomach so you feel fuller for longer. This stops you from overeating because the space that would have otherwise been taken up by food is now occupied by the balloons.
How Do I Prepare for the Procedure?
Your doctor will request that you not drink anything at least six hours before the procedure or eat anything at least 12 hours before the procedure. This stops you from feeling nauseous after the balloon has been inflated. Generally, the procedure takes about 20 minutes, so there’s not much to prepare for. Afterward, you can go home with a prescription for acid reflux and anti-nausea medicine.
How Long Does It Take to Recover From a Gastric Balloon?
Soon after the balloon is placed in your stomach, you may feel some slight discomfort. It’s a normal feeling as long as it isn’t painful, and the feeling can persist for a few days up to a couple of weeks.
Generally, you may need to give your body about three days of rest to recover from the procedure. Sometimes, you won’t even need this long to resume normal activity if your body adjusts to the presence of the balloons quickly. In contrast, recovery from bariatric surgery requires a short stay of up to five days in the hospital or longer if complications occur.
How Does One Live With a Gastric Balloon?
Life with a gastric balloon is almost normal! The only exception is that most patients report not feeling very hungry during the first week after insertion. Other patients experience uncomfortable side effects, such as nausea that gets worse if they eat a lot of food. That’s why it’s normal to experience significant weight loss during the first week after the procedure.
However, you may find your appetite slowly returning in the next week. Still, the balloon will be doing a good job of keeping you full after a minimal amount of food. Over the following weeks, you should continue to lose weight with some plateaus in-between. When your weight loss plateaus, it’s the best time to start focusing on exercise and how you can tweak your diet to make it healthier.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Gastric Balloon?
The biggest advantage of a gastric balloon is that it doesn’t require surgery. The balloon itself is easy to place, and the procedure is quick. After the procedure, many patients have experienced significant weight loss, so it’s safe to say the procedure is effective. It’s even more effective when paired with a healthy diet and an exercise program.
Typically, during the six months they have the gastric balloon, patients can lose between 20 and 50 pounds, though this depends on the starting weight and whether the patient has made lifestyle changes. Overall, the balloon helps patients feel full quicker, which makes weight loss a simpler and easier process.
Moving on to the disadvantages of a gastric balloon, some patients may experience acid reflux, but this can easily be solved by taking prescribed anti-reflux medications. In the first few days, other unpleasant side effects such as nausea and vomiting are also common. Perhaps, the biggest disadvantage of a gastric balloon is that it’s only a temporary solution. The patient needs to come up with an effective and healthy weight loss program after the balloon is removed.
When Is the Gastric Balloon Removed?
A gastric balloon only stays in your stomach for a maximum period of six months. The balloon is taken out of your stomach using endoscopy. Before the procedure, you may need to take a mild sedative or anesthetic. The balloon first has to be deflated before it’s grasped and removed through a tube that’s been inserted via your mouth.
What Happens After the Gastric Balloon Is Removed?
When the gastric balloon is removed, you will go back to not feeling fuller quickly. However, and hopeful, living with a gastric balloon will have taught you to understand your body and its hunger signal much better. Therefore, the important thing is to continue with your healthy eating habits and to implement a long-term and sustainable exercise program. This is what will help you maintain weight loss for life.
If you need some tips to achieve this, we usually recommend eating slowly and scheduling your meals to avoid unnecessary snacking. As an example, your meal program could include three healthy and balanced meals plus one snack per day. Other programs allow you to incorporate five to six smaller meals per day. In any case, it’s important to stick to this meal program as much as possible.
To reduce hunger pangs, it’s best to choose nutrient-dense foods instead of processed foods, such as sodas and fast food. Your meal program should include plenty of vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish. Last but not least, find an exercise routine that’s not too difficult to maintain and which you can do at least five or more days a week to keep fit.
In a nutshell, a gastric balloon is the perfect option for you if you’re looking for an effective weight-loss tool that’s cost-effective, temporary, and doesn’t require surgery. If you would like to know more about getting the procedure done, please get in touch with Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors!