Intragastric Balloon - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Intragastric Balloon

The intragastric balloon is a non-surgical procedure, which means that it does not involve any incisions, stitches or scarring. It’s also reversible and non-permanent, unlike a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass.

The intragastric balloon is made of soft silicone. During the procedure, the deflated balloon is placed directly in the patient’s stomach through their mouth. Once it reaches its destination in the stomach, the doctor fills the balloon with a sterile saline solution until it is about the size of a grapefruit.

The outpatient procedure takes about two hours from start to finish. When it’s over, patients will recover for a short time before returning home on the same day.

A Six-Month Weight Loss Tool for the Change of a Lifetime

The intragastric balloon occupies a grapefruit-sized space in the patient’s stomach, helping them feel fuller sooner than the normally would. This helps with weight loss, which can be dramatic in the first three to six months after the procedure. Patients will meet regularly with their treatment team during this time period to learn healthier eating habits that will last a lifetime. This treatment team includes nutritionists, trainers and psychologists to help with the patient’s long-term strategy for maintaining a healthy weight.

After six months with the intragastric balloon, the procedure is reversed. The doctor removes the balloon from the patient’s stomach back through the throat and mouth. However, the patient’s work is not done yet. The treatment plan designed to revamp their diet, activity level and relationship with food should be a lifelong commitment.

The Risks and Rewards of the Intragastric Balloon

The risks and complications associated with the intragastric balloon are generally minor. Some patients will experience nausea and vomiting for the first few days after the procedure, which can be managed with medication. In addition, some patients experience abdominal and back pain, and some gastro-esophageal reflux.

The intragastric balloon helps the average patient achieve more than three times the weight loss compared to diet and exercise alone. Weight loss of about 10 to 15 percent is typical within the first six months following the procedure.

When adults with a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 40 used the intragastric balloon in addition to behavioral therapy, they achieved an average weight loss of 29 percent. In comparison, adults with similar BMIs who received behavioral therapy without the balloon achieved an average weight loss of 14 percent.

Patients who had the intragastric balloon experienced many of the same improvements in obesity-related illnesses as patients who received more invasive bariatric surgeries.

Your doctor can help you determine if the intragastric balloon is right for you. Typically, patients who qualify are adults with a BMI between 30 and 40 who are willing to participate in a medically supervised treatment program.