What Is It?
An endoscopic intragastric balloon is a weight-loss system that uses a gastric balloon to occupy space in the stomach. The balloon is placed into the stomach through the mouth, using a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure, while the patient is under mild sedation. Once in place, the balloon is filled with salt water (saline) so that it expands into a spherical shape. The balloon can be filled with different amounts of saline (from 400 to 700 cc) to best match the patient’s body structure.
How Does It Work?
The balloon takes up space in the stomach to help patients lose weight. The system is temporary and should be removed after 6 months.
When Is It Used?
The device is used in obese adult patients who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30-40 kg/m2 who have been unable to lose weight through diet and exercise. It is intended to be used while a patient participates in a diet and exercise plan supervised by a health care provider.
What Will It Accomplish?
In clinical trials, patients with the intragastric balloon lost an average of 21.8 pounds (10.2% of their body weight) after the device had been in place for six months. Three months after the device was removed (9 months after device placement), patients maintained an average of 19.4 pounds weight loss.
The first consultation with your doctor will involve discussions about:
- Your medical history
- Your previous attempts at losing weight
- Your personal goals
- Your commitment to the program
- How comfortable you feel about the whole process which is an important part of the journey.
On the day of the procedure, your team will prepare you for the endoscopic placement of the intragastric balloon. The placement takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes, after which patients are monitored by specialist nursing staff in recovery.
You will be lightly sedated while the deflated intragastric balloon is inserted into your stomach through your mouth. Immediately following the placement of the intragastric balloon, it is filled with sterile saline.
Soon after this you will regain complete awareness. You will remain in the clinic for observation usually for a minimum of 2 hours or until the doctor discharges you into the custody of the person who will take you home.
This is generally an uncomplicated process. Nevertheless, over the first few days after the procedure you may experience gastric discomfort, nausea and vomiting as the digestive system adjusts to the presence of the intragastric balloon.
As with any medical procedure, you need to remain alert to any possible complications. You doctor will advise you what to look out for.
Some important things to organize beforehand are:
- Arrange to have someone with you when you return home from the procedure
- No solid foods or liquids 12 hours prior to the procedure
- Stock your kitchen with the necessary post-procedure foods and liquids as instructed by your dietician
- Plan for at least 48 to 72 hours of inactivity after the procedure.
Recovery and Liquid-Only Diet
In the first few days following the procedure, you may feel uncomfortable as the stomach gets used to the presence of the intragastric balloon.
Predictable side effects most patients experience include nausea, vomiting and gastric discomfort over the first week. These symptoms can be managed by the medications provided by your doctor. These conditions are normal and should be expected.
Your doctor will provide strict instructions for your hydration regimen during this period. It is critical that you drink plenty of water during the first few days and avoid eating any solid foods.
You'll be restricted to a liquid diet for the first three days, which might include:
- Thin soups or broths
The following foods will need to be avoided:
- Fizzy drinks
- Fatty foods
- Ice cream
Moving to Solid Foods
After a few days on a liquid diet you'll be ready to begin the transition to solid foods. You will start with semi-solids and gradually move to fully solid foods.
How quickly you make this transition will depend on your progress and how well your body is tolerating the liquids. It's important to make the transition slowly and not try to rush the adjustment process.
Patients can start exercising under the advice from their doctor and support team, as soon as they feel well enough. This is usually about two weeks after their procedure.
Important things to remember for exercising:
- Don’t engage in any physical activity for the first 24 to 48 hours
- Drink cold liquids in small amounts, beginning with a teaspoon, and slowly increase the amount of the liquid as you are able. If liquid is taken in large amounts there is a higher risk of nausea and vomiting.
Removal of the Intragastric Balloon
Removal of the intragastric balloon takes around 20 to 30 minutes, similar to when it was inserted. During the removal procedure, you will be sedated and your doctor will remove the sterile salt water from the intragastric balloon before removing the deflated balloon from your stomach. You’ll need to prepare for removal of the ORBERA® intragastric balloon with:
- No solid food 24 hours prior to the procedure
- No liquids 12 hours prior to the procedure
- Arrange to have assistance when you return home from the clinic