How does the weight loss Gastric Balloon work?

A weight-loss or gastric balloon such as the Allurion Gastric Balloon is a less invasive tool than surgery to help reduce a person’s weight. It is placed inside the stomach in a non-surgical procedure, meaning without the need for invasive surgery, and is left there for a period of time ranging from 4-12 months. During this time the balloon takes up space in the patient’s stomach and thus suppresses their feeling of hunger. This helps the patient reduce portion sizes and meal frequency which in turn leads to weight loss.

By the time the balloon is removed, the patient will have adopted these new, healthier eating habits, meaning the expectation is that the weight loss will remain permanent.

Centre For Weight Loss at the Body Genesis Institute is proud to be one of a few select providers offering the weight-loss balloon in the Melbourne area.

Non-Surgical Gastric Balloon vs Surgery

There are different types of gastric balloons which will be compared in this article. Gastric balloons should not, however, be grouped together with other bariatric procedures such as a gastric bypass or gastric sleeve. A gastric bypass is a significant surgical procedure that essentially creates a smaller stomach for the patient. The end effect is the same – the reduced space in the stomach leading to weight loss via a reduction in portion sizes – but gastric bypasses are more invasive and therefore higher risk than non-surgical procedures like Gastric Balloon.

The Allurion Gastric Balloon and Other Types of Weight-Loss Balloons

The ORBERA Weight-Loss Balloon

Orbera is a weight loss system that helps patients to lose an average of 3x the weight of diet and exercise alone yet does not require surgery. Of the various intra-gastric balloons, Obera is the most widely sold, with over 300,000 placements worldwide.

The balloon is placed into the stomach endoscopically by a surgeon. This means he or she inserts the deflated balloon through the mouth all the way into the stomach. Once there, it is filled with approximately 550 cc of a sterilized saline solution (the size of a grapefruit) and stays in place over the course of 6 months. While free-floating in the stomach, it creates a sense of fullness which slows the digestion. The patient learns to eat smaller portions during meals and to curb impulsive eating. In this way the balloon becomes a learning tool for the patient to take control of their body without the need for weight-loss surgery.

Allurion Intra-gastric Balloon

The Allurion (formerly Elipse) Balloon is touted as the “only gastric balloon in the world without endoscopy.” The balloon is placed in the stomach during a 20-minute consultation with your doctor. You swallow a tube that contains the deflated balloon, and once in the stomach the balloon is filled with saline. This can be achieved without anaesthesia since you have control over the entire process. A quick x-ray determines if the balloon is in the right place.

You can watch this video to find out more:

Unlike the Orbera, the removal of an Allurion Gastric Balloon does not require endoscopy. Rather, after about 4 months, a time-activated release valve drains the balloon, and it passes through your digestive system. The benefits are clear: The downtime of the procedure is cut in half, and the cost is lower as well because no endoscopy or anaesthesia is required.

Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon System

The Spatz gastric balloon works much like the above solutions, with one major difference: it is adjustable to accommodate saline fill volumes of 400 cc to 800 cc. This allows the surgeon to increase and decrease the fill size along the way to make sure that it works to its full potential. Especially at the 4-month mark when a gastric balloon may lose some effectiveness, it is an advantage to be able to increase its size. Conversely, if the patient struggles to tolerate the initial balloon placement, it can help to be able to temporarily reduce its size.

Which Type of Gastric Balloon is Best?

Choosing a gastric balloon for your weight loss comes down to your BMI and the options that are offered by your surgeon.

The Orbera, Allurion and Spatz balloons are reputable procedures with good efficacy and promising results. The main difference is that the The Orbera balloon requires endoscopic placement by a surgeon, but you are done in a single 20-minute procedure in an outpatient setting. The balloon stays in for 6 months and has to be removed under sedation via another endoscopy. This is the same situation with Spatz balloon however the Spatz3 can be adjusted and can stay a up to 12 months.

Which system you choose for your weight-loss therapy will most likely depend on a combination of your BMI and what your gastric surgeon offers. It is important that you first have a consultation with an experienced bariatric surgeon who routinely performs endoscopic procedures and is trained in the latest technology.

It is important to do your research and find out more about the experience of the clinic that you may be considering. Also find out about the potential risks of each procedure.

Centre For Weight Loss at the Body Genesis Institute was the first clinic in Victoria to perform the Allurion Gastric Balloon procedure.  Our surgeons are well experienced in all types of bariatric surgery and also the Allurion Gastric Balloon procedure.

You can visit our Allurion Gastric Balloon page to watch a pre-recorded webinar for further information and book an appointment to kickstart your weight-loss journey with Body Genesis Institute.

Authored by:
Dr Arun Dhir
Upper Gi and Bariatric Surgeon