The world is facing a huge crisis, with obesity now being a true pandemic. The market is filled with exercise programs, weight loss pills, and diet books, and it has become near impossible to tell which ones of those are the real deal. What we do know is that there are some people who are beyond the point at which they can help themselves through diet and exercise, and for them, surgical procedures are available. One of those is the gastric balloon. While this is a minimally invasive procedure, as it only involves an endoscopy, it remains a medical procedure. This means that there are risks attached to it. Furthermore, few people truly understand what the gastric balloon is and how it will help them to lose weight.
Understanding the Gastric Balloon
If someone is obese, but their BMI has not yet reached the gastric surgery threshold, the gastric balloon could be an option for them. The procedure is fairly simply, as a surgeon simply inserts a balloon into the stomach through an endoscopy, after which it is filled with a saline solution. Because the balloon takes up most of the space in the stomach, people can’t eat as much and will begin to lose weight. The balloon can remain in place for six months, giving people the chance to get their weight down and to develop new heathier habits to help them maintain their weight.
The gastric balloon has been designed to not deflate during the six months that it is in place. This is one of the reasons why it has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Even if it were to deflate, measures are in place to make sure people know about it. The balloon is filled with a saline solution with blue dye, which would turn urine blue should it leak, at which point the patient can ask to have it removed. In very rare cases, the deflated balloon can be defecated out of the system.
In 2008, a comprehensive study into the effectiveness and safety of gastric balloons showed that just 4% of people had the balloon removed early. A very small minority of these had it removed because of balloon deflation. The study also showed that people lost 12.5% of their original weight within the six month period. The study, completed by Columbia University, showed that gastric balloon patients who did not diet would lose 8% of their weight in three months, whereas those that had the balloon and dieted as well would lose as much as 16%. In the majority of cases, this weight loss has so far been permanent, even months after the removal of the gastric balloon.
When you have the balloon fitted, you will usually have to take medication for around 48 hours to stop yourself from feeling sick. These side effects are mild and certainly don’t outweigh the benefits of the procedure. As a result, it is quickly becoming one of the most popular medical weight loss solutions.