From a body mass index of more than 30 kg / m², it is referred to as obesity, which as a chronic disease can lead to a significant reduction in life expectancy. Since conservative treatment measures can only achieve low success rates of 1 to 2% in the long term, medicine now offers a whole range of invasive weight loss measures, most notably surgical measures such as gastric banding and gastric bypass. Although the surgical treatment of obesity has proven to be extremely effective, the various methods of bariatric or overweight surgery all have a complication rate that should not be underestimated. The gastric balloon is an alternative for sufferers who are unwilling to bariatric surgery or – for whatever reason – are not eligible for it. In the forum, there are tips, advice, and discussions around the topics gastric reduction, gastric band and gastric balloon
Slimming with a gastric balloon
If larger foreign bodies stay in the stomach for a long time, this usually leads to weight loss. This observation has long been known in medicine before a gastric balloon was first used in 1982 to induce weight loss in an obese patient. Meanwhile, the procedure of gastric balloon implantation has become firmly established as a non-surgical weight loss option and has proven its effectiveness in many studies – but only in combination with a supervised diet, a light endurance sports program and behavioral training that leads to a permanent change in dietary habits and lifestyle. Gastric balloon implantation may be recommended if the body weight is at least 40% above ideal weight and other measures have not led to permanent weight loss.
Technique of gastric balloon implantation
The implantation of a gastric balloon is gastroscopically, i. a gastroscopy, which is carried out on an outpatient basis with short sedation and without anesthesia. For this purpose, the initially empty balloon is introduced into the stomach in rolled-up form and then filled with 400-700 ml saline solution. As a result, the balloon cannot be transported further into the intestine and floats freely in the stomach. Due to the volume of the balloon, a fast feeling of satiety is developed when eating, thereby reducing the amount of food. The implantation is done in most cases within 20 to 30 minutes.
Gastric balloon as a weight loss aid
The gastric balloon is a tool that supports weight loss and only makes sense in combination with a tight diet program, a consistent movement therapy, and behavioral modifications. Behavioral modifications are needed to align long-term dietary habits and lifestyle towards permanent weight loss. With such a structured weight loss program, balloon in the stomach can help you lose 10 to 15 kg of weight within six months. The sole implantation of a gastric balloon without accompanying measures makes little sense, since after removal of the balloon with a renewed increase in weight is to be expected or, the weight loss falls from the outset rather disappointing. It is generally recommended to remove the gastric balloon after six months. This requires a new gastroscopy, in which the balloon is packed so that the saline empties into the stomach and the balloon can be removed through the esophagus.
Technical development is the controllable gastric balloon. However, this requires a small procedure in which the balloon introduced into the stomach is connected to a thin catheter which leads to an under-skin reservoir via which the filling volume of the balloon can be varied by injection. These balloons only make sense if the balloon treatment is to be carried out for longer than 6 months.
Weight reduction with the help of a gastric balloon thus requires a high level of motivation of the person concerned, who has best informed himself in advance about professionally guided weight loss programs. In the case of extreme overweight, it may be sensible to initiate a significant weight reduction before a planned bariatric operation with the help of a gastric balloon, so that the risk of intraoperative and postoperative complications can be reduced.
Side effects and complications of gastric balloon
The special advantage of the gastric balloon compared to overweight surgery lies in the simple and always reversible technique that can be performed on an outpatient basis without anesthesia. But even though balloon in the stomach is gentle for weight loss methods, problems can occur.
In the first days after a balloon implantation nausea and vomiting, occasionally stomach cramps are possible. If nausea gets worse, it is sometimes necessary to intervene with medication in order to quench nausea and to compensate for the fluid loss caused by the vomiting. A gastric balloon can cause stomach ulcers, which can lead to threatening bleeding or perforation. For prophylaxis is therefore often prescribed an oral gastric protective agent that the patient must take regularly. In rare cases, the colonization of saline in the balloon with bacteria has been observed. If the saline solution in the stomach and intestine empties, feverish diarrhea can be the result. In theory, injury to the esophagus may occur during implantation or removal of a gastric balloon.
The acidic gastric contents may over time attack the silicone-containing material of the balloon such that the saline solution empties into the stomach through a leak in the balloon wall. It may well happen that the emptied balloon migrates towards the intestine and is excreted in the best case by natural means. When walking through the intestine, it can also get stuck and trigger a bowel obstruction, which then has to be repaired surgically. Since the evacuation of the balloon, deflation, almost always goes unnoticed, the saline solution is often added a dye that is excreted through the kidneys. If the patient notices a discoloration of his urine, this is an alarm signal and a prompt medical presentation is advisable. In order to avoid such complications, the removal of the gastric balloon after 6 months is recommended. If a longer balloon treatment is planned, the balloon must be replaced every 6 months for a new one.