Understanding Weight Loss Balloon: 14 Essential Questions

weight loss balloon faqs

1. What Is a Weight Loss Balloon?

A weight loss balloon, or gastric balloon as it is often called, is a non-surgical, temporary, device that is placed in the stomach to help a patient lose weight.

2. What Is The Difference Between A Weight Loss Balloon and Bariatric Surgery?

A gastric balloon is a non-surgical weight loss procedure that requires no incisions or sutures and does not cause scarring. Bariatric surgery permanently alters a patient’s digestive system while a stomach balloon is only placed temporarily for six months to help facilitate weight loss.

The balloon is placed in the stomach while the patient is lightly sedated but bariatric surgery requires the use of general anesthesia. Most patients recover between 2-3 days after balloon placement, while most surgical weight loss procedures require at least six weeks of associated recovery time.


3. Why Would Someone Consider a Weight Loss Balloon?

For patients who do not wish to undergo a permanent surgical procedure but need some help with weight loss, a gastric balloon would be an excellent but temporary choice. Also, more patients qualify for a weight loss balloon procedure because the BMI level requirements (30-40) are not as high as they are for weight loss surgery (35+).

4. How Does Losing Weight with a Gastric Balloon Work?

Once the balloon is placed in the stomach for weight loss, it is filled with saline to reach between 4-6 inches in diameter or about the size of a grapefruit. The balloon takes up space in the stomach and patients are not able to eat as much food in one sitting. The balloon creates the sensation of being full so patients do not feel hungry all the time.

The ultimate goal when using the Orbera balloon procedure for weight loss is for the patients to lose weight, and more importantly to learn portion control and develop new lifestyle habits that will keep the weight off.

5. Will a Weight Loss Balloon Work Alone to Help Me Lose Weight?

The balloon works hand in hand with lifestyle choices to help patients lose weight and keep it off. Patients work closely with their bariatric clinic’s dietician and other clinic professionals to create and implement a diet and exercise plan.

The balloon in the stomach is only a tool that is most effective when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and daily exercise. Weight loss balloons require a 12-month commitment to working closely with the specialists from the bariatric clinic. One of the best parts of choosing an endoscopic balloon for weight loss is the ongoing support the patient receives.

The balloon remains in the stomach for 6 months but patient treatment does not end until a full year has passed. Patients are typically required to meet with the specialists once a month although many do offer telehealth.

6. What Size Is a Weight Loss Balloon in the Stomach?

The typical size of a weight loss balloon is anywhere from 4-6 inches or about the size of a grapefruit.

7. How Much Weight Can I Lose with a Gastric Balloon?

The amount of weight that can be lost with the help of a weight loss balloon is largely dependent on patient compliance with the diet and exercise part of the plan. Patients that are committed to making the necessary lifestyle changes long-term will benefit the most.

The typical weight loss result is approximately 20-50 pounds depending on the patient’s starting weight. With the help of the weight loss balloon, patients can lose 3 times the amount of weight vs diet and exercise alone.

Patient testimonials report varying degrees of weight loss but one patient’s experience was a loss of 38 pounds in the first month after the balloon was placed.

Patient Testimonial - Orbera 1 Month Follow Up - IBI Healthcare Institute

IBI Healthcare Institute patient Jaime Pinzon talks with Dr. Chris about his experience with the Orbera procedure thus far.

8. Who Is a Good Candidate for a Weight Loss Balloon?

Adults with a body mass index (BMI) of between 30-40 who have never undergone prior bariatric surgery, hernia repair, or other stomach surgery, are not pregnant or breastfeeding may be a candidate for a gastric balloon.

Patients also must be willing to participate in the “supervised” portion of the program that requires a 12-month commitment.

9. How Long Does It Take to Insert Or Remove a Weight Loss Balloon?

Each procedure requires only about 20 minutes to complete.

10. What Does a Weight Loss Balloon Feel Like in Your Body?

Most patients say having a balloon in their stomach at first made them feel like they had just eaten a big meal and they feel very full. This feeling goes away after a few weeks as their body gets accustomed to the balloon. The good news is that the balloon is not noticeable from the outside.

11. Will I Regain Weight after the Weight Loss Balloon Is Removed?

Long-term weight loss maintenance is dependent upon the patient’s dedication to following the prescribed diet and exercise program. If the patient adopts permanent lifestyle changes in these areas, they will be successful in maintaining their results and fending off weight regain.

12. What Can I Eat After Getting a Weight Loss Balloon?

After having the weight loss balloon placed in your stomach, you will need to give your stomach a little break as it will be aggravated having been invaded by a foreign object.

Starting with a liquid diet and working back up to solid foods will help the stomach adjust. Patients who choose a gastric balloon vs surgery for weight loss are usually able to choose from a wider variety of foods than people who undergo bariatric surgery.

  • Week 1: All liquid diet including items like water, selected juices, herbal tea, skim milk, and decaffeinated coffee.
  • Week 2: Blended soups, yogurt, and other very soft foods that can be mashed up with a fork can be consumed. Eat slowly and only small portions and stop if you begin to feel uncomfortable.
  • Weeks 3-4: You should be able to eat most foods as long as you chew them up very well.
  • Week 5 and Beyond: You should be tolerating most foods with no issues. Continuing to make Healthy choices and following your exercise plan will help you maintain your weight loss and avoid weight regain.

Helpful Eating Tips after Getting a Stomach Balloon

  • It is recommended that patients avoid carbonated beverages, caffeine, and alcohol while the balloon is present.
  • Eat protein first to ensure you get an adequate amount to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
  • Some foods tend to stick to weight loss balloons so about 30 minutes after you finish eating, you can drink water which will help rinse it off.

13. What Are the Side Effects of Gastric Balloons? Are Weight Loss Balloons Safe?

Gastric balloons have been around for over 20 years and even though they have changed in shape, design, and size since then, they have still been considered a safe procedure for weight loss. When compared to bariatric surgery, balloon procedures carry a lower risk profile.

Many patients report symptoms of nausea and vomiting the first few days after the insertion of the balloon; however, the doctor can prescribe medication to alleviate this discomfort.

Serious side effects are rare (1/10,000) but can include balloon deflation, stomach ulceration, bowel obstruction, intestinal perforation, and death.

14. What Are Symptoms Associated With Gastric Balloon Failure?

Although it is rare for a gastric balloon to deflate, it is a serious condition and does require immediate medical intervention. Left untreated it could create life-threatening complications. Signs that would indicate something has gone awry with your stomach balloon are prolonged nausea, vomiting, or pain. A quick x-ray can determine if there is a problem with the weight loss balloon.

If you are interested in learning more about gastric balloon-assisted weight loss contact IBI Healthcare Institute today to set up a consultation. We can help you determine if you are a candidate for a weight loss balloon and work with you to create a plan to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Leave a Comment