Thursday, 2 June 2011

Weight Loss Procedure - Gastric Balloon (BIB)

Those who are overweight but not having success with dieting, may have considered gastric surgery. However, this can be a daunting prospect and not everyone relishes the idea of going under the knife. But there is another option, the Gastric Balloon. This is a safer, non-invasive alternative to weight loss surgery and carries fewer side effects.

Who Can Have This Procedure?

The gastric balloon is suitable for those who are moderately overweight and not having any success with conventional dieting. But it’s also an option for people with very high BMI’s where the potential risks of undergoing weight loss surgery are too great. In some cases, such patients can have a gastric balloon inserted, then if sufficient weight is lost, they can go on to have conventional weight loss surgery later.

What Happens During The Procedure?

The gastric balloon procedure can be done as a day case and should last between 20-30 minutes. The patient lies on an operating table but usually remains awake throughout, though they are given a muscle relaxant medication beforehand. The balloon is then inserted into the patient’s mouth using a gastroscope, and they will be encouraged to swallow. The balloon is then fed right the way down into the stomach and is filled with a blue liquid. It’s then sealed and left to float inside the stomach.

The entire procedure is viewed on a large screen which enables the surgeon to clearly see what is happening. The balloon can remain in place for up to six months. However, after this time it must be removed as the silicone material can become weakened by stomach acids and tear.

The balloon is removed in the same way as it was inserted only in reverse. The balloon is punctured, deflated then retrieved back through the mouth.

How Does It Work?

Once the gastric balloon has been inflated inside the stomach, it has the effect of making the patient feel full after consuming only small amounts of food. This should mean the patient will eat fewer calories and gradually lose weight. The patient must combine this procedure with diet and lifestyle advice so they can use this time to re-educate themselves to eat smaller portions and learn about healthier eating. If they don’t do this, once the balloon comes out, they will simply regain any lost weight.

What Can Be Eaten?

For the first few weeks after the gastric balloon is inserted, patients can only have liquids as their stomach adjusts to the balloon. Gradually, pureed foods are introduced then normal solid foods. Although anything can be eaten, it’s hoped that patients will use this time to improve their eating habits so they’re able to maintain their weight or keep losing it once the balloon is removed.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Side effects are minimal and if they do occur, are likely to be experienced in the first few days after the procedure. These include nausea, stomach cramps or vomiting but should cease within three or four days. They may also experience back pain, reflux and a heavy feeling in the abdominal area. If, on rare occasions the balloon ruptures or leaks, the patient is alerted by their urine which will appear blue due to the colour of the liquid inside the balloon. If it deflates enough, it will pass out naturally along with other waste through the bowel.


The gastric balloon procedure costs less than conventional weight loss surgery and patients might expect to pay between £2,000-£5,000 to have it done privately in the UK. This is cheaper than having a gastric band fitted which costs an average of £7,000.


Results vary quite a bit with this procedure but generally, weight loss isn’t as great as with gastric surgery. Patients sometimes find that within a month or two they can go back to eating similar amounts of food as they could before the procedure, which possibly explains the lower weight loss.

But those who have the gastric balloon inserted have to realize it isn’t a quick fix for losing weight. It needs to be used in conjunction with a healthy eating plan and increased exercise, or it’s probably not worth going through with it. However, for those who follow dietary advice, weight loss can be substantial.

Diagrammatic Video Showing the Gastric Balloon Being Inserted

Hospital Procedure Showing the Gastric Balloon Being Inserted

For further information, visit: The National Obesity Surgery Centre

© Diets and Calories 2011


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