Gastric Balloon is a procedure that involves placing an inflatable silicone balloon into the stomach and inflating to decrease the available volume for food in the stomach. Most of the balloons have been placed in the stomach using an endoscope. This requires sedation although sometimes it may need a full anaesthetic.. The balloon is inflated with 500 to 700 ml of saline (around the size of a grapefruit) and creates the feeling of fullness and satisfaction in the patient while consuming smaller portion sizes. This is what leads to weight loss.
The gastric balloon is not a permanent weight loss procedure as the balloon can only be inserted for a 6 month period or in some instances for 12 months (Spatz balloon). The gastric balloon can be a good solution for patients who wish to lose only a small amount of weight (10-20kg) or to initiate weight loss in severe morbidly obese patients who need to lose weight in order to qualify for other bariatric procedures like a Gastric Sleeve or Bypass.
The Allurion Swallowable Gastric Balloon – NEW!
The latest Gastric Balloon made by Allurion was previously called the Ellipse Gastric Balloon. has brought about an amazing development that reduces the need to have anaesthesia or endoscopy. This balloon can be swallowed like a capsule with the assistance of water. Once swallowed an in your stomach it can be filled with 550 mills off fluid. At four month’s time the balloon releases the water through a self release valve which allows the balloon to pass out naturally. This eliminates the need for endoscopy or anaesthesia making this very appealing. Weight loss Surgeons all over Australia are now using this device that has had great success overseas. This is a different balloon to earlier balloons like the Orbera.
Watch this video to understand the Allurion Gastric Balloon
Am I eligible for the Allurion Gastric Balloon?
The Allurion Gastric Balloon procedure is one of the most non-invasive procedures and can be completed within a short 20 to 30-minute procedure. Gastric Balloon is generally considered and recommended to patients who have a BMI of 27 or greater and who need to lose a relatively small amount of weight in a small amount of time.
Besides this people considering gastric balloon would generally not have established medical comorbidities like significant diabetes or sleep apnea.
If you have significant gastroesophageal reflux, hiatus hernia or multiple previous operations on the abdomen, you may be at a higher risk of problems after the balloon.
Patients who are considering Gastric Ballooning as a primary weight loss solution must be willing to undertake dietary and lifestyle changes to achieve success.
Advantages of Gastric Balloon
- One of the most non-invasive procedure and can be completed in a 20/30-minute session with patients being discharged within a 2 hour period after completion.
- More likely to see improvements in health conditions related to obesity such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.
- A safer method of weight loss boasting low complication rate and mortality rates compared to other procedures.
- Completely reversible procedure in case of any sudden issues or health changes where a quick reversal is needed.
- No “Dumping Syndrome” is experienced as no stomach or intestinal reconfiguration is needed.
RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS OF GASTRIC BALLOON
As with any procedure there are always possible complications and risks involved, these include:
- As the procedure involves inserting a foreign object inside the stomach there is a chance of stomach blockages or stomach ulcers or stomach ruptures.
- There is a chance of the gastric balloon leaking or deflating inside the stomach. In case of the Allurion Gastric Balloon the balloon will most likely boss out on its own.
- Gastric Balloons Can sometimes cause a lot of reflux and cramps. These can be managed with medications however some people may develop intolerance which might require earlier extraction of the balloon.
What if I am unable to swallow the Balloon?
It can be difficult for some patients to swallow the balloon which is packaged in the form of a capsule. Your doctor will be trained in using different techniques to assist you in being able to swallow the balloon. Sometimes a wire called as stylet will be used that can assist in passing the balloon into the food pipe.
Watch this video of patient who describes how she managed to swallow the balloon. Taking a deep breath and sitting up straight generally helps with this part.
Cost of Gastric Ballooning
Like most surgery there is never one definite cost for a specific procedure, this is due to the different elements involved that make up the final cost. Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t usually cover the Gastric Balloon procedure. The procedure usually costs around $7,000- $8,000 on average.
Some of the pricing factors that will influence your Gastric Ballooning price are:
- Consultation fees – Usually around $200 – $250 that are usually eligible for a medicare rebate.
- Surgeon’s fees – Usually one of the most varying factors. This is commonly correlated with the surgeons’ experience and ability.
- Hospital/Facility fees for X rays
- Dietitian fees
- Post Operative Support offered and Medications
While cost is an important factor in considering gastric balloon this should not be the only factor. It is important to know the value and the after procedure support that you are likely to receive as that could be the determinant in long term success. The ultimate success of Allurion gastric balloon is to be able to create a lasting change in your mindset.
AFTER THE GASTRIC BALLOON
Over the first two weeks following the procedure you will transition from a liquid diet to a more well-rounded final balloon diet, while also adapting to a more active and healthy lifestyle as recommended by dietitians or nutritionists.
During the first week or so patients may experience varying discomfort or nausea and is a small chance (around 3-7%) that they may need to have an early removal due to intolerance of the device. After a week or so discomfort will transition into a sense of fullness and you will have a significantly less desire to eat. Physical tasks such as heavy lifting should be avoided during this time while drinking alcohol in moderation is permitted.
Ongoing Support after the Gastric Balloon
At the Body Genesis Institute – centre for weight loss, we provide an extensive support for our patients.
Below are some of the key elements of our ongoing support which includes:
1. Consultation with our dietitian
2. Cost of placing the balloon
3. Smart scale and smart watch
4. Lifetime membership of our Facebook support group
5. Hard copy of “Creating a New You” – a Health and Wellbeing journal created by Dr Arun for weight management
6. Hard copy of Dr Arun’s book “Happy Gut, Healthy Weight”
7. Two bulk billed follow up consultations with Dr Arun
8. Two follow up dietitian appointments
9. Ongoing access to our bariatric medical doctor for support.
If you have been thinking about shedding those extra kilos but have been waiting to do it in a gentle and least invasive manner, this is a great option to consider.
“Your Weight is over”
Discover 5 strategies to lasting transformation with the Allurion Gastric balloon.
Author : Dr Arun Dhir
Director Body Genesis Institute
Upper Gi Surgeon and Author