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Gastric Balloon: an Alternative to the Lap Band for Weight Loss?

Feb 8, 2017 10:52:12 AM | Obesity Gastric Balloon: an Alternative to the Lap Band for Weight Loss?

Stomach gastric balloons are a nonsurgical option and alternative to lap band or surgery for losing weight and fighting obesity.

If you are overweight, there are times when you’d want to lose weight for medical or other reasons. The gastric balloon is a newer technique for weight loss in obese patients and is an alternative to surgery including the gastric lap band.

 The Intra-Gastric Balloon

stomach balloon

It is a non-surgical operation designed to help obese patients to lose weight when their BMI is below the standard gastric band surgery BMI threshold. The procedure requires inserting saline solution into a silicone balloon in the patient’s stomach. The insertion helps reduce the person’s eating capacity. The balloon is inserted into the stomach in a deflated state and it is filled with the solution.  There are different balloons available such as the Orbera balloon. Some are placed through the mouth under endoscopic vision (an instrument tht is a tube with a camera used to inspect the stomach).  Balloons can also be swallowed in a deflated state, in a pill form, and then inflated.

Comparing the gastric balloon vs. gastric lap band for obesity

  1. Considering the Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • If your a BMI is 27 to 40, you may be a candidate for the intra-gastric balloon. However, if your BMI is 35 to 50, then you may choose the Gastric Band.
  • But there are exceptions too, there are some people with a BMI of 35+ who chose to have the Balloon rather than the gastric band, for various reasons.
  1. Consider when it can be fitted
  • The gastric balloon can be fitted to people with a BMI of between 27 and 40 and who desire to lose 10 to 15 kg quickly or a loss of 40% of the excess body weight.
  • Fitting the balloon is preferred when a patient does not want to undergo a surgical procedure for medical or personal reasons.
  • The gastric band is only provided to patients who have a BMI of over 35. 
  1. Consider amount of weight you need to lose
  • The intra-gastric balloon is preferred for patients looking for a totall nonsurgical option. It’ll be suitable for you if you’d like to jump-start your weight loss and will be removed in a maximum of 6 months. The patients are required to maintain a strict program after the removal of the balloon.  A committment to a dietary regimen and active lifestyle is a must!  You can expect to lose 40% of your excess weight.  It is 3.2 times more effective than diet and exercise alone in combatting obesity.
  • For a more permanent weight loss solution, you should consider the gastric lap band. The gastric band can be left in place throughout the patient’s life and is adjusted depending on the weight loss needs. One must remember that this procedure requires surgery both for the placement and a removal if needed.  Once a gastric band is inserted, you are no longer a candidate for a balloon as any personal history of stomach (gastric) surgery is a contraindication for a stomach balloon. Again, patients who do not follow a strict dietary program including excercise will not have a sustained weight loss. You can expect an initial loss of 50% of your excess weight.

Gastric balloon procedures generally carry a lower cost compared to other full surgical procedures like the surgical gastric sleeve or gastric band surgery.  

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Written By: Anthony A. Starpoli, MD