The gastric or intragastric balloon is a device that is placed in the stomach to promote weight loss. Filled with saline or air, this balloon occupies part of the stomach to create a feeling of fullness. Therefore, it allows modifying the diet to reduce excess weight. Still reserved for a minority a few years ago, the system is becoming more democratic and more accessible. What is the use of the gastric balloon in the context of successful weight loss? What can we really expect from this device?
The device is installed without surgery in the stomach to get the body used to eating less. Before any installation of the Gastric balloonthe doctor in charge of the operation examine the stomach with an endoscope. Consultation with a dietitian and, on occasion, an athletic trainer is essential for the preparatory evaluation. Added to this is a blood test, any prior drug treatment and precautions to be taken prior to installation.
A polyurethane or silicone balloon is inserted endoscopically, under general anesthesia. Deflated on arrival, it is filled with saline through a catheter that is gently withdrawn from the mouth as soon as the balloon is full. The placement of certain balloons does not require surgery, endoscopy or anesthesia. In this case, the patient swallows the balloon in the form of a capsule connected to the catheter to take it to the stomach. After filling, the device floats freely in the stomach.
The balloon can also be inflated with air, usually a nitrogen hexafluoride gas mixture. However, many users find the air balloon uncomfortable. Regardless of the type of equipment inserted, the amount of air or serum varies with each patient. The ball usually takes the size of a small orange. Thanks to an automatic closing system, the liquid or air is perfectly protected against leaks. However, a dye present in the device alerts the patient to a leak.
The placement and removal of the ball is done in the same way and takes less than 30 minutes. Although a slight discomfort may be felt, the process is painless. The patient remains under surveillance at the facility for some time, but can return the same day.
Who can place a gastric balloon?
The gastric balloon is suitable for anyone who has tried to lose weight without success. After unsuccessful diets, sports programs or medical weight loss programs, it is possible to turn things around with this equipment. The installation of a gastric balloon also allows prepare the body for surgery in case of obesity to reduce potential risks.
The gastric balloon is indicated for people whose body mass index (BMI) is between 27 and 35. Beyond that, the patient should benefit from bariatric surgery to reduce obesity. The procedure is personalized according to the specificities and objectives of each patient. People with health problems related to their weight should speak to a specialist who will confirm their eligibility for the operation.
The advantages of the gastric balloon
The balloon occupies a third of the stomach, a volume that helps reduce the amount of food eaten before reaching satiety. Its main advantage is the reduction of appetite and food intake, not by starving yourself, but by focusing on smaller proportions. To get results quickly, just follow a few rules. These include, among others:
- take the time to chew properly,
- take small bites of meals,
- wait at least 10 seconds between bites,
- drink water only before and after meals,
- stop eating as soon as you feel full…
In addition, the balloon placement technique is minimally invasive. It does not involve scars or stitches. Patients can claim it without fear of a change in their anatomy and the risks that surgery entails. For accelerate weight loss, it is possible to insert up to 3 balloonson doctor’s recommendation.
The device is temporarily placed and can be removed at the user’s request. The procedure is quick and patients recover very quickly in excellent shape after rapid convalescence. In addition, balloon placement costs less than bariatric surgery and has fewer risks than invasive procedures. However, it is not covered by health insurance.
Is the gastric balloon not recommended in certain cases?
The gastric balloon is a excellent option to lose weight, but unfortunately it is not accessible to everyone. Contraindications are numerous and include among others:
- severe liver disease,
- psychiatric disorders,
- alcoholism or drug addiction,
- eating disorders,
- scuba diving…
The installation of the balloon is not recommended for minors and all people with gastric injuries. History of gastric surgery, stomach ulcers or appendicitis are ruled out. The same goes for women who want to get pregnant or who are breastfeeding. Other conditions such as hemostasis disorders, hiatal hernia are limitations of this method. it’s imperative consult a specialist to ensure the success of the operation.
How long does it take to lose weight with a gastric balloon?
The effectiveness of the gastric balloon is noticed from the first 3 months during which patients generally lose 10 to 15% of their weight. Nevertheless, weight loss can be up to 30% when the patient receives appropriate behavioral therapy.
In fact, it is necessary to accompany the treatment with nutritional monitoring to guide the patient and provide personalized dietary advice. Following the advice of a dietitian will also be helpful in helping the patient progress at their own pace, with a kindness they may not have for themselves. Therefore, he knows not only what to eat, but also in what proportions to do it according to daily limitations. As an indication, meals may contain:
- 50 g of starch, ham or ground beef,
- 120 g of chicken cutlet or fish fillet,
- 125 g yogurt, cheese or vegetables,
- 150g fruit…
To get the most out of the gastric balloon, it is essential to eat healthy and balanced. It is necessary to provide the body with protein, fiber, carbohydrates, fatty acids, vitamins and other essential nutrients without filling the stomach. For best results, you will also need to replace alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and soft drinks with water and fruit juices. This promotes frustration-free weight loss while enjoying the energy you need every day.
Similarly, psychological monitoring should not be trivialized. It allows you to control the thoughts and behaviors that can influence weight loss. Added to this is the follow-up by a gastroenterologist, which is crucial during the first days in which the sensation of discomfort linked to the foreign body causes constant nausea. Professionals offer several tips to manage this period as well as possible and stay motivated while using the ball.
During the interviews, the patient explains how he experiences the change in diet, the difficulties he encounters as well as the improvements he notices. This allows the patient’s sensations to be identified in order to adjust care and avoid possible complications. Consultations can be made in the office or online through the patient’s personal space. Along with a permanent establishment of good daily habits, tracking seems to be a real weight loss booster.
Long-term results of a gastric balloon
The installation of a gastric balloon is an opportunity to discover new recipes and cooking techniques compatible with the reduction of dietary needs. The first week after the operation, it is recommended to consume liquid food. A tender diet is recommended for the next two weeks. After a month, the user can already eat all kinds of food.
Therefore, it is possible to lose between 3 and 20 kg, but the ball does not have a long-term effect on the stomach. Don’t look at the number of pounds lost. The relevance of this device is measured by the patient’s ability to maintain their weight stabilized over time.. Long-term results strongly depend on the patient’s lifestyle.
Weight loss will continue if the patient adopts the same eating habits and behaviors that led to weight loss, even after balloon removal. The continuation of the follow-ups will facilitate the adoption of a healthy lifestyle conducive to the reduction of extra kilos.
Do not neglect regular physical activity, which is still important to burn calories and stimulate the body in this process. Of course, be careful: no exercise or intense activity is recommended during the first week. It is not about engaging in intensive gymnastics, but about finding a pleasant and effective activity. A sustainable exercise program can be implemented after the fourth week.
What happens to the gastric balloon once you have lost weight?
After its time limit, the ball must be removed and discarded. It is no longer effective, because the stomach has become accustomed to it. Removal of a polyurethane balloon is ideally done 4-6 months after installation, depending on the device used. The silicone balloon lasts longer, up to 12 months. Beyond the limit, the gastric balloon disintegrates under the action of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and is evacuated through natural pathways.
A residue-free diet and medications that can stimulate stomach movement are prerequisites for balloon removal. The operation is performed by endoscopy using a kit that contains a catheter, a puncture needle and tweezers. The contents of the balloon are aspirated before its extraction. The stomach then returns to its original shape before deposition.
The ball pose should not be seen as a miracle technique to lose weight. Maintaining an ideal weight over time after balloon installation requires a personal commitment to a healthier lifestyle.
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