You might be asking yourself right now, “what even is a gastric balloon?”. A gastric balloon is used as a weight loss procedure. They are also commonly referred to as “weight loss balloons”. This procedure is a great option for someone that would normally be a candidate for a traditional weight loss surgery, but doesn’t want to take the traditional surgery option.

Typically a gastric balloon is inserted into the stomach using an endoscope. This technique is non-invasive because no cuts are needed. A long scope is simply inserted through the mouth and esophagus into the stomach. Because there would be some discomfort with doing this, a mild sedation is used. There the physician can inspect the stomach to make sure there aren’t any abnormalities that would prevent the patient from getting the gastric balloon. After an examination is done, the balloon is inflated and the scope is removed.

The amount of time that the balloon stays in the stomach varies depending on the brand of balloon. However, the average time is about 6 months. During those 6 months, the balloon helps the patient feel more full which leads to losing weight and creating healthier eating habits. Once it’s time to remove the balloon, the same procedure for the placement is used again for the removal.

Other Weight Loss Procedure Options

Because exercise and diet may not be cutting it, sometimes a bariatric procedure may be necessary. While gastric balloons are non-surgical there are some surgical procedures that are also performed. Traditional weight loss surgeries would include procedures like the gastric sleeve, duodenal switch, and gastric bypass. These procedures typically involve altering the anatomy and hospital stays to recover. After a surgery like this, there are very few options for another procedure in the future if you don’t see the results you want.

This is where a weight loss balloon is different.

So, How Safe is It?

When it comes to safety, it’s still a medical procedure and there are some risks/side effects. However, due to the gastric balloon being a non-surgical procedure, the risks are much lower than having a bariatric surgery like a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass. Making sure the gastric balloon you’re considering is FDA approved and that the provider you’ll be working with has been trained by the company that makes the balloon and is trained to perform endoscopies. Our doctors that provide these services have been trained and have years of experience with gastric balloons. Click here to schedule a gastric balloon consult with one of them.

Options for Gastric Balloons

There are quite a few products on the market now for gastric balloons. Many are pretty similar in the final weight loss results. The only differences between them are how they’re placed in the stomach and their shapes. Here is a list of the most popular ones in the U.S.

Orbera

This is a single balloon that’s filled with saline. As described earlier, it’s placed and removed with an endoscope. It’s left in the stomach for 6 months. The company touts “3.1x more weight loss than with diet and exercise alone”. Orbera has been around for 20 years and has had 300,000 balloons placed worldwide. Orbera got its FDA approval in 2015. This is the balloon we use at Premier Family Medical.

Obalon

This is a series of 3 balloons that are filled with air. These balloons are placed different than other gastric balloons on the market, they’re actually swallowed! Well, not in balloon form. The person swallows these balloon in pill form with a small catheter on the end of it. Once the doctor sees with an x-ray that the capsule is in the right spot in the stomach, it’s then inflated and the catheter is removed. The advantages of this balloon is that you don’t need to be sedated to place the balloons. However, some disadvantages are that you have to come in 3 times over the course of 6 weeks to get each balloon placed. For someone with a restrictive schedule, this may not be the best option. At the end of the 6 month period, all three balloons are removed the same way the Orbera balloon is removed.

ReShape (no longer manufactured)

These are two balloons filled with saline and are attached together. The company was recently bought out and they no longer manufacture the balloon.

Orbera Gastric Balloon at Premier Family Medical

We’ve found that Orbera is the best option for our patients and because of this we’ve created a whole weight loss program that accompanies the Orbera balloon. Our patients have found that our program helps them to achieve their weight loss goals and to keep the weight off. Our program includes monthly visits with our dietitian and doctor, 24/7 texting support, a weight loss app, and of course the Orbera balloon. We do this program in our Lindon, UT clinic. Dr. Steven Cherrington and Dr. Garrett Smith are the doctors that run this program. To find out if Orbera is right for you, you can schedule a free consultation.