Gastric balloon: what it is, how it works, advantages and disadvantages
The gastric balloon, also known as intragastric balloon, is a technique that consists of placing a balloon inside the stomach to occupy part of the space and make the person eat less, facilitating weight loss.
Generally, to place the balloon, an endoscopy is performed, where it is placed in the stomach and then filled with physiological fluid. This procedure is quite fast and is performed under sedation; for this reason, it is not necessary to remain hospitalized.
The gastric balloon can lose 13% of its original weight during the first 6 months of use. This procedure is recommended for people with a BMI greater than 30 or 35 kg/m2 and with diseases associated with high blood pressure or diabetes.
How is gastric balloon surgery performed?
The placement of the gastric balloon takes approximately 30 minutes and, generally speaking, the person does not need to remain hospitalized, having to rest between two to three hours in the recovery room before being discharged to be able to return home.
This technique includes several steps:
- A drug is used to sedate the person, causing a mild sweat that allows reducing anxiety and facilitating the entire procedure;
- Flexible tubes are introduced through the mouth up to the stomach, when they bring a microcamera at the point that allows observing the inside of the stomach;
- The balloon, when empty, is introduced by mouth and then filled into the stomach with suero and a blue liquid that serves to make the urine or the heces blue or green in case the balloon bursts.
To guarantee the loss of weight and the results, while using the balloon it is very important to follow a diet guided by a nutritionist, with few calories and which must be adapted in the first month after the procedure. Find out more about how the surgical diet should be.
Likewise, it is important to carry out a regular exercise program that, along with the diet, must be maintained after removing the balloon, with the aim of avoiding gaining weight again.
When and how to get rid of the balloon
The removal of the gastric balloon is generally performed 6 months after it has been placed, and this procedure is similar to placement, in which the liquid is aspirated and the balloon withdrawn through endoscopy under sedation. The balloon must be removed, as the material with which it is manufactured is degraded with stomach acids.
After the removal, it is possible to place another balloon 2 months later, however, many times it is not necessary, because if the person adopts a healthy lifestyle, he will be able to maintain the weight without the need to use the balloon.
What age can it be placed?
There is no age from which a gastric balloon can be placed; for this reason, the technique can be considered as a form of treatment when the level of obesity is very high.
However, in the case of children, it is always advisable to wait until the end of the growth phase, as the degree of obesity may decrease throughout this phase.
Advantages and disadvantages of the gastric balloon
The placement of a gastric balloon, in addition to helping to lose weight, has other advantages such as:
- Does not cause stomach or intestine changes because part of the stomach and/or intestine are not removed, as in the cases of bariatric surgery;
- Take little risks because it is not an invasive method;
- It is a reversible procedureyou can easily vacate and extract.
Asimism, the placement of the balloon deceives the brain, puts its presence in the stomach sends the information that it is permanently filled, even if the patient has not eaten.
However, despite these advantages, it is a method that could help to maintain the loss of weight over a long period of time, once the balloon is removed, if healthy eating habits are not maintained, the person can increase again from weight again. Indeed, some scientific studies have corroborated this situation.
The placement of the intragastric balloon for slimming can cause nausea, vomiting and stomach pain during the first week while the body adapts to the presence of this.
In less common cases, the balloon can rupture and dislodge the intestine, which can cause obstruction and generate symptoms such as abdominal swelling, strep throat and green urine. In these cases, you must immediately go to the hospital to remove the balloon.
Gastric balloon placement is contraindicated in people with a hiatal hernia >5 cms, active stomach or duodenal ulcer, previous surgical resection of the stomach, inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal neoplasia, oropharyngeal abnormalities, active gastrointestinal bleeding, clotting disorders, varicose disease , alcoholic illness or drug abuse, psychiatric illness, embarrassment, use of anticoagulants or anti-inflammatory drugs and cardiovascular, pulmonary or cerebrovascular illnesses.
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