The endoscopic intragastric balloon treatment is a non-surgical method to help lose weight in patients who suffer from obesity or morbid obesity. It is an endoscopic procedure, during which a balloon is inserted in the stomach, occupying about half of it. The balloon remains in the stomach for a maximum of six months and it is meant to increase the feeling of satiety and limit food intake. Since it does not require surgery, the procedure is conducted in an out-patient setting.

What Endoscopic Intragastric Balloon Treatment Involves

The gastric ballon is a soft, biocompatible silicone device that is filled with sterile saline solution that is placed during a non-surgical procedure that takes between 20 and 30 minutes. The physician will insert the unfilled gastric balloon through the mouth and oesophagus into the stomach, using an endoscopic camera. Following the procedure, which can be conducted under local or general anesthesia according to the characteristics of the patient, the physician uses a fluid supply tube to fill the gastric ballon.

The endoscopic intragastric ballon does not cause weight loss directly — it increases the feeling of satiety, which means that it requires a patient’s commitment to weight loss. Therefore, the treatment is indicated for patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) from 30 to 70 that are not eligible for weight loss surgery or who want a temporary weight loss option. Being motivated to lose weight, which can be done with the help of medically supervised weight loss programs, and accepting both the implant and the after care are determinant. It is, however, not recommended in cases of binge eating, stress eating or for patients who suffer from heartburn or diabetes.

Following the Endoscopic Intragastric Balloon Placement

After the introduction of the endoscopic intragastric balloon, the physician will monitor the patient’s reaction to it before discharge from the hospital. During the first week with the balloon, the patient will initiate a liquid diet, after which solid food can be eaten, respecting a healthy diet recommended by the medical team. The patient can lose 15 to 25 kg with the balloon, but it will depend on the behavioral changes conducted along with the implementation of the device.

During the treatment, the physician will monitor weight loss to ensure the success of the procedure as well as determine the removal of the balloon, after no more than six months. To remove the balloon, the physician will again introduce an endoscopic camera through the esophagus into the stomach in order to puncture the balloon. It is then deflated and removed with the help of forceps.

Endoscopic Intragastric Balloon As An Alternative To Weight Loss Surgery

There are both advantages and disadvantages associated with the endoscopic intragastric balloon treatment as an alternative to surgery. Patients feel satisfied during the treatment and the weight loss is often more significant than with other non-surgical programs, while the patient is accompanied by a medical team that helps during the process and teaches how to maintain weight loss. Another main advantage is that the device helps avoid the risks associated with a surgical procedure and patients may be more comfortable with a non-surgical and non-pharmacological approach.

On the other hand, the balloon is a temporary treatment and may not be tolerated by all patients. In addition, there is the risk of nausea and vomiting, particularly during the first weeks with the balloon, as well as the risk of weight loss failure if the patient does not commit to diet and physical activity. According to the study “Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is superior to endoscopic intragastric balloon as a first stage procedure for super-obese patients (BMI > or =50),” the researchers demonstrate that weight loss, percent of excess weight loss and BMI decrease are more insignificant in patients submitted to laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy than intragastric balloon treatment.

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