Despite the name, intragastric balloon surgery for obesity is in fact nonsurgical.
At the Bariatric Center at Main Line Health, we use a balloon procedure that teaches you portion control while you safely lose weight over the course of six months. In addition to helping you lose weight safely and effectively, the gastric balloon is also more cost-effective than other types of bariatric procedures.
*Gastric balloon surgery is not covered by insurance.
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How intragastric balloon surgery works
To determine whether intragastric balloon surgery is right for you, you will first have a diagnostic endoscopy. This involves having an endoscope, a long, flexible tube with a tiny camera at the end of it, inserted through your mouth and down into your upper digestive area. The camera allows your health care provider to see inside your stomach and surrounding areas.
With intragastric balloon surgery, there is no "surgery" at all. It involves a 20- to 30-minute procedure that requires no stitches or incisions and won't leave any scars.
Once it is determined that intragastric balloon is appropriate for you, the balloon placement procedure can begin. During balloon placement, you will be mildly sedated so you will not feel pain or discomfort. Your bariatric surgeon will insert a deflated gastric balloon through your mouth and esophagus and down into your stomach. A syringe is then used to gently pump a sterile saline solution into the balloon until it expands to the size of a grapefruit.
Intragastric balloon surgery is an outpatient procedure that takes about 20 to 30 minutes. You will have the balloon in for six months. Then it will be removed.
Intragastric balloon: The first three months
At first, your body will need to adjust to the intragastric balloon. You may feel symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain
Your bariatric surgeon may recommend medication to help manage symptoms, if you have them.
Weight loss will begin right away and you will see rapid results within the first three months. As with any weight loss program, your own efforts to change your diet and lifestyle and stay active can help improve your weight loss results with intragastric balloon.
Changing your diet and lifestyle habits with intragastric balloon
While the balloon helps you reduce the amount you eat, it is also retraining your brain, helping you get in touch with feelings of fullness from the foods you eat.
Your bariatric surgery support team will also help improve your results from intragastric balloon. You'll meet regularly with your bariatric treatment team, which includes a bariatric nutritionist, bariatric fitness specialist, psychologist and bariatric surgeon.
During months four through six, you'll focus on reinforcing the good habits you've learned from the early months of intragastric balloon surgery. This includes healthy eating behaviors and mindset for long-term healthy weight management. Working closely with your bariatric team, you'll follow a personalized nutrition, diet and exercise plan.
Removing the intragastric balloon
This is also a nonsurgical procedure that takes only about 20 to 30 minutes. The balloon is removed after you've had it in for six months and have learned to recognize fullness and implement healthy eating and lifestyle behaviors. Your bariatric support team will continue to work closely with you to keep you on track for your goals.
Do you qualify for intragastric balloon surgery?
If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 to 40 and are willing to follow a medically supervised weight loss program, you may qualify for intragastric balloon. Every patient is different, however, and your bariatric surgeon will discuss all of your weight loss surgery options after taking into consideration your health history and other factors.