Gastric Balloon Insertion

A gastric balloon is a non-surgical means of treatment for obesity intended to reduce feelings of hunger and to help you feel fuller for longer. A gastric balloon may help you to achieve long-term weight loss and the management of other medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

A gastric balloon is designed to be a temporary weight loss solution, and will usually be removed after six months. It is sometimes used to help you lose enough weight to undergo gastric banding or gastric bypass surgery.

Your consultant will confirm your BMI score and carry out a detailed assessment, before deciding if a gastric balloon is suitable for you.

What happens?

Gastric balloon insertion is a non-invasive endoscopic procedure. During the procedure a soft, expandable balloon is inserted into your stomach through your mouth, using an endoscope (a thin, flexible telescope). The balloon is then filled with saline solution to partially fill your stomach, leaving less room for large amounts of food or drink. You will be given a throat spray which numbs the throat area and muscle relaxing medications are also used.

Placement times vary, but it will usually take 20-30 minutes, after which you will be monitored by the weight loss surgeon for a short time and then may return home.

What are the risks?

General complications of any minimally invasive procedure may include:

• Pain
• Minor bleeding
• Nausea and vomiting

Specific complications of this operation may include:

• A feeling of imbalance similar to sea sickness
• Gastric discomfort, nausea and vomiting are common for the first few days following balloon placement
• A feeling of heaviness in your abdomen
• Abdominal or back pain
• Gastro–oesophageal reflux or indigestion may also occur
• There is a theoretical (and rare) risk that the balloon could rupture. In this case it would usually pass through the bowel and be expelled naturally.

Ask your consultant to explain how any risks might apply to you.