The gastric balloon programme combines a clinically proven way to reduce hunger so that you eat less and lose weight without surgery. It is a short-term solution to kick-start your weight loss and helps you learn the healthy habits. This enables you to maintain that success after the treatment so that you maintain weight loss.
Losing weight lowers the risk of developing medical problems associated with obesity, for example, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, breathing problems and asthma.
How does it work
The gastric balloon is a soft, silicone sack that is endoscopically inserted into the stomach and filled with blue coloured sterile saline. The balloon is licenced to stay in for approximately 12 months.
With the gastric balloon you will have a feeling of fullness sooner during meals which will enable you to reduce your portion size, eat less which will help you to lose weight. It will stay in place for six months while you learn the habits of healthy eating and kick-start your weight loss with the help of our specialist bariatric team.
The gastric balloon will be removed after six months, a decision could be made to either proceed to surgery or another balloon could be inserted for another six months.
How much weight can you expect to lose?
Patients can expect to lose an average of 2.5 stone or 16kg in the first six months and with continued commitment will continue beyond.
The amount of weight you can lose and keep off after the procedure will depend on the lifestyle changes that you make, such as increasing the amount of exercise you take and eating a healthy diet.
It is important to remember that the procedure will not stop you from craving certain foods or eating what you fancy.
What are the risks of a gastric balloon?
In general, this is a very safe procedure. However, as it is still a relatively new procedure the long-term effects are as yet unknown. Complications are rare but can happen and these are likely to be the following:
- Leakage or actual bursting of the balloon
- Ulcers (rare)
- A rupture or bleeding in the stomach or windpipe caused by a faulty insertion of the balloon
- Gastric problems such as reflux, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
Complications that can occur soon after gastric balloon insertion
Like other weight loss procedures, the balloon is a tool and works best when you use it properly, following a low calorie diet and maintaining close contact with the health professional team during the time the balloon is in place.
Surgeons usually prescribe medication to reduce your stomach acid production whilst the balloon is in place.
Whilst most people do not experience any complications, possibilities to be aware of include:
- Intestinal obstruction by the balloon which could be fatal when a partially deflated balloon passes into the small bowel. If this occurs, surgical or endoscopic removal would be required.
Signs that this may have happened include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating and most importantly you will pass blue or green coloured urine as the balloon will have leaked, if this happens you must speak to your specialist nurse or consultant straight away or attend your nearest hospital for urgent advice.
- Bleeding or perforation could occur as a result of injury during the balloon insertion or removal, requiring surgical correction.
- Gastric discomfort; nausea and vomiting are common for the first few days following balloon placement but rarely continue in the longer term unless the balloon is causing a blockage.
- A feeling of heaviness in the abdomen, abdominal or back pain, gastro-esophageal reflux (heartburn) or indigestion have also been reported.
- A feeling of imbalance similar to sea sickness.
Long term complications after gastric balloon insertion
- As the balloon only stays in place for 12 months there are no known long-term complications. Whilst the balloon remains in situ you are carefully monitored and made aware of any warning signs which may indicate a problem with the balloon. For example, loosing blue coloured fluid could indicate a leakage.
How should you prepare for the procedure?
Prepare a list of written questions for your surgeon
Read information on UK patients’ group websites such as Weight Loss info
Discuss the operation with your close friends and family
Meet other patients if possible
Make healthier changes to your lifestyle
The day of the operation
You will be admitted to the endoscopy unit on the day of your procedure.
Once your admission is complete you will see your surgeon and a written informed consent will be signed. You will then go to endoscopy suite where you will be administered a numbing throat spray to insert the gastric balloon.
The procedure may be uncomfortable, but is generally painless (only a throat spray as local anaesthetics is required before and during the procedure).
What should you expect after the procedure?
You will be admitted to the ward overnight following the procedure and should be discharged home the following day as long as you have had no serious adverse reactions to the balloon.
You will be able to start drinking water as soon as the numbing throat spray has worn off. You will be given strict dietary advice from our specialist dietitian.
You will need to be driven home and have an appropriate adult stay overnight with you.
You will also be prescribed an anti-acid tablet (lansoprazole) and multi vitamins and minerals to be taken daily for the whole time the balloon is in place. You will be given a supply of anti-sickness medications to take as directed by your surgeon.
Eating and drinking
You will be given a diet information sheet. In case of doubt you are advised to contact your dietitian. You are advised to drink at least two litres of fluid per day to avoid dehydration.
Straight after the procedure you will be able to walk. Try to go for a walk every day, gradually increasing the distance as you feel able. You will probably need one to two days off work depending on how you stomach adjusts to having a foreign object present, as this sometimes causes nausea but this will normally subside in a day or two.
It is advisable to avoid heavy lifting for at least two weeks after the procedure, if you are unsure discuss with your surgeon. You may resume sexual activity as soon as you feel comfortable.
Following your procedure, if you have any concerns please contact the hospital
- The James Cook University Hospital
Tel: 01642 854505 (available 24 hours)
- The Bariatric Team
Tel: 01642 835724
Email: [email protected]
Further help and information
- Weight Concern
1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT
Tel: 020 7679 1853 (not a helpline)
Weight Concern is a registered charity, set up to tackle the rising problem of obesity. Weight Concern has shown how psychologists, dieticians and exercise specialists working together can help people make the lifestyle changes they want, to control their weight.
- WLS info (Weight Loss Surgery Information and Support)
Wessex House, Upper Market Street, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO50 9FD
Tel: 0151 222 4737
- British heart foundation
- Diabetes UK
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.
To ensure we meet your communication needs please inform the Patient Experience Department of any special requirements, for example; braille or large print.
T: 01642 835964
E: [email protected]