Intragastric balloon: How can I lose weight without having surgery?
Excess weight and obesity are chronic diseases that have both physical and psychological repercussions, often with serious consequences.
Their recovery depends on correct treatment, largely based on proper dietary measures supplemented with the execution of regular and controlled physical exercise. For cases where these measures are not enough, a series of therapeutic alternatives have been created that can help and supplement medical treatment.
When indicated, one of these alternatives is the Endoscopic Intragastric Balloon (EIB).
What is Intragastric Balloon?
The Intragastric Balloon is a soft, expandable, and resistant silicone balloon which is endoscopically positioned and left floating inside the stomach, partially filling it and provoking a sensation of fullness and satiety that makes it easier to follow an established nutritional-dietary guide.
The great value of the Intragastric or Gastric Balloon is that is forces the patient to regulate the amount of food ingested, avoiding overeating and helping him/her to follow a dietary re-education plan designed to acquire proper eating and nutritional habits that, as well as achieving a loss of weight, make it easier to keep that weight off once the balloon is removed.
This treatment is become more and more frequent, largely due to the great deal of experience already gained, as well as its safety and effectiveness.
Who is this treatment indicated for?
Always under medical supervision, the Intragastric Balloon or EIB is indicated for cases where the patient, having already followed multiple dietary and/or pharmacological treatments, has not been able to significantly reduce his/her weight, mainly in cases of moderate obesity and in some situations for mild excess weight and obesity.
The principle indications of the intragastric balloon are:
Patients who have attempted multiple diets unsuccessfully.
Patients who have the ability to understand the treatment goals and the monitoring that must be done.
Criteria according to BMI:
In some cases of excess weight and mild obesity with a BMI<30.
In cases of moderate obesity with a BMI between 30 – 35.
In some cases of severe obesity with a BMI between 35 – 40 without any associated diseases.
When the BMI>40, the best treatment is bariatric surgery, although for those patients who reject the surgery, a non-surgical alternative can be attempted.
The advisable age for the intragastric balloon is between the ages of 18 and 65.
Placement: How is the intragastric balloon placed?
The placement of the Intragastric Balloon is a simple and quick procedure with no adverse effects.
The procedure consists of placing a deflated balloon endoscopically (non-surgically) inside the stomach, filling it up with a sterile saline solution, and letting it float freely inside the stomach.
It is a safe and quick procedure that is performed under deep sedation so that the patient feels no pain or discomfort.
It is also an out-patient procedure, meaning that once that balloon has been placed, the patient can return home and can retake his/her normal activities within the next few days.
In general, it is normal for there to be a period of adaptation to the balloon in the first few days where the patient may present gastric discomfort, nausea, and even some vomiting initially; the patient must therefore follow an established diet and take some prescribed medicine.
It is a safe procedure with minimal and infrequent complications. However, and due to the fact that said complications can exceptionally present themselves, it is convenient to evaluate this treatment with a specialized doctor in order to individualize the risks, and to be adequately informed.
Each person must, before the procedure, provide his/her written consent indicating that they have received the complete information regarding the execution of this treatment.
Contraindication for the intragastric balloon
The principle contraindications consist of some serious digestive diseases, certain prior surgical interventions, active alcoholism or drug addiction, pregnancy, certain pharmacological treatments and psychiatric illnesses that the doctor will be sure to evaluate.
What is the natural evolution of the Intragastric Balloon, and how is removed?
The treatment with the balloon inside the stomach lasts 6 months. After this period, the removal of the balloon is just as safe and simple as its placement, and the gastric morphology takes on similar characteristics and dimensions as before the placement of the balloon, but the patient is now used to new eating habits.
Although a specific weight loss cannot be guaranteed, about 80% of all patients treated had positive results, with an average weight loss between 15 and 20 Kg. This number does vary, depending on the characteristics and correct follow-up treatment of each person, with lower, or even greater results (up to 30 Kg) being a possibility.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned, the six months that the treatment lasts must serve as an incentive and motivation for the re-education of the patient regarding his/her eating habits and lifestyle, thus helping the patient keep the lost weight off.
In this sense, a weight loss maintenance program controlled by our Comprehensive Service should be considered; the service is made up of a teams of specialists in the fields of endocrinology, nutrition, dietetics, and/or psychology if necessary.