6 July, 2024

Gastric Balloon Side Effects

Gastric balloons are becoming more popular for helping individuals lose weight because they are a safe and effective alternative to weight loss surgery. It is also easier for an individual to qualify as a candidate for a gastric balloon compared to bariatric surgery.

If you have been unsuccessful in previous attempts at losing weight and are considering a weight loss balloon, you might have some questions about how they work, if they are safe, or what gastric balloon side effects you might encounter.

Today, we will give you an overview of how a gastric balloon can help you lose weight, how long a typical program lasts, how much weight you can lose, as well as the common and also very rare gastric balloon side effects.

How An Intragastric Balloon Works

A gastric balloon like the Orbera or Spatz3 is inserted into an individual’s stomach through an endoscopic procedure, which means there are no incisions needed.

An endoscope is a special medical device that is lowered down a patient’s throat and allows the doctor to access the stomach using a natural entry point. The endoscope is hollow and bendable and has an onboard camera that sends live video images to a nearby screen so the doctor can see exactly what they are doing in real time.

While the patient is lightly sedated, the doctor will place a deflated weight loss balloon into a specific location in the patient’s stomach and then fill the balloon with liquid saline until it takes up a significant portion of the stomach’s storage space. This is usually equivalent to about 5” in circumference.

The balloon helps the individual lose weight because they can’t eat very much at each meal and they stay feeling full most of the time. The balloon only stays in their stomach for six to nine months and is then removed; however, patients follow a monitored weight loss program for an entire year. They begin the program when the balloon is installed and continue to follow it even after it is removed. The more dedicated you are to making permanent lifestyle changes that promote weight loss, the more weight you will lose, and the more successful you will be in maintaining a healthy weight.

How Safe Are Gastric Balloons?

Weight loss balloons have been on the market for several decades, and over the years some safety issues have been observed, but changes in the shape and design have resolved these issues. Currently, the Orbera intragastric balloon and the Spatz3 weight loss balloon are available and approved by the FDA as safe and effective treatments for individuals with obesity.

Gastric Balloon Side Effects

There are always possible side effects and risks with any medical procedure or device. When a gastric balloon is placed in the stomach, it can cause some temporary symptoms until your body gets used to it. These symptoms normally only last for one to two weeks and should gradually get better. Your doctor may prescribe some medication that will help relieve your symptoms in the meantime.

Some Common Side Effects of a Gastric Balloon

  1. Your stomach feeling heavy;
  2. Queasiness;
  3. Throwing up;
  4. Cramps in the stomach;
  5. Diarrhea;
  6. Pain in the lower back.

Some Very Rare but More Serious Side Effects

  1. An adverse reaction to the sedation used during the procedure;
  2. Issues due to an inexperienced endoscopist, such as bleeding, infection, and damage or tears in the stomach or esophagus.
  3. Deflation of the balloon;
  4. Damage to the stomach (ulcers);
  5. Obstruction of the bowels;
  6. Perforation of the intestines;
  7. Death.

It is important to note that the most serious adverse gastric balloon side effects resulted from inappropriate use of the balloon and failing to have it removed at the specified time.

What Have Studies Shown About Gastric Balloon Side Effects?

Data from an FDA approval study of 258 gastric balloon patients on the potential side effects of a gastric balloon noted the following side effects:

Side Effect Of The Gastric BalloonNumber Of Affected Patients
Experienced nausea70
Had issues with vomiting67
Experienced stomach pain or discomfort63
Developed acid reflux (GERD)32

Most patients only experienced these side effects temporarily, which resolved after two weeks.

47 of the patients who participated in that same study experienced early removal of their gastric balloons due to their chronic gastric balloon side effects, intolerance, or other reasons listed in the following chart:

Cause For Balloon RemovalNumber of Affected Patients
Ongoing nausea, chronic throwing up, stomach pain, or acid reflux that medication could not alleviate27
Early removal was solicited by patients for personal reasons and not due to side effects (their schedule, due to upcoming surgery or unrelated medical procedure)13
The balloon was filled up too much when it was installed4
They were not happy with their weight loss results3

Some Gastric Balloon Side Effect FAQs

Can The Balloon Leak And Deflate While It Is In My Stomach?

Deflation of the balloon would be highly unusual, but if you suddenly stop having that feeling of fullness or notice you can eat a lot more than usual, you should contact your doctor right away. The saline leaking out into your stomach will not cause an issue, but a deflated balloon can travel through your digestive system and become lodged in your bowel, causing a serious medical condition called an obstruction. Your doctor can check the status of your balloon in just a few minutes using an x-ray.

Can a Gastric Balloon Injure Your Stomach?

Occasionally, patients experience a stomach injury from the gastric balloon rubbing against the stomach walls. To protect against this, patients are often prescribed medication that lowers the stomach’s acidity levels, which helps to shield the stomach walls from this type of friction.

If patients fail to take this medication or do not tell their doctor about any side effects they are having, they risk experiencing additional complications. It is important to keep your doctor informed about any adverse gastric balloon side effects so they can be treated appropriately.

What Happens If I Get Pregnant? Is A Gastric Balloon Safe?

If you become pregnant while you have a gastric balloon, let your doctor know immediately. The safety of gastric balloons during pregnancy or nursing hasn’t been established, so the balloon will need to be removed.

If you are tired of trying to unsuccessfully lose weight on your own, contact Reveal Weight Loss in Livingston, NJ. We can help determine if you are a good candidate for a weight loss balloon and share with you the available options for weight loss assistance.

At Reveal Weight Loss, we offer the Orbera and Spatz3 gastric balloons, along with endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty, prescription weight loss medication, bariatric revision, and comprehensive nutrition services to help you achieve sustainable weight loss.

We will work with you to identify the best choice or combination of strategies that will work for your specific circumstances so you can reach your weight loss goals. We are here to help you in your weight loss efforts. Contact us today and set up your appointment to learn more!

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