What is a Gastric Balloon?
Gastric Banding is a procedure that involves placing an inflatable silicone balloon into the stomach and inflating to decrease the available volume for food and digestion. The balloon is inserted through the esophagus with the help of a gastroscope under sedation and doesn’t commonly require a full anesthetic. 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.
The gastric balloon is not a permanent weight loss procedure! as the balloon can only be inserted for a 6 month period it is seen as a temporary weight loss solution for patients who wish to lose only a small amount of weight (10-30kg) or to initiate weight loss in severe morbidly obese patients who do not qualify for other bariatric procedures.
Am I eligible for Gastric Ballooning?
The Gastric Ballooning procedure is one of the most non-invasive procedures and can be completed within a short 20-minute procedure, because of this a wide range of patients can be considered. Gastric Ballooning 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. Patients who are considering Gastric Ballooning as a primary weight loss solution must be willing to undertake dietary and lifestyle changes.
Advantages of Gastric Banding
- One of the most non-invasive procedure and can be completed in a 20-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 incase of any sudden issues or health changes where a quick reversion is needed.
- No “Dumping Syndrome” is experienced as no stomach or intestinal reconfiguration is needed.
Risks and Complications of Gastric Ballooning
As with any surgical 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, stomach ulcers or stomach ruptures.
- There is a chance of the gastric balloon leaking or deflating inside the stomach. To combat this most balloons will be inserted with a blue dye to turn urine to a green color if a leakage occurs. Should this happen you should call your doctor/clinic to have the balloon removed immediately.
- Gastric Balloons that stay in the stomach longer than the intended 6 months (or to the devices specifications) are not advised as they may cause perforation of the stomach.
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 Ballooning procedure. Without insurance cover the procedure usually costs around $5,600 on average. Some of these ranging factors include that will influence these numbers are:
- Consultation fees – Usually between $100-$200 that are usually eligible for a medicare rebate.
- Surgeons fees – Usually one of the most varying factors. This is commonly correlated with the surgeons’ experience and ability.
- Surgical assistants fees
- Anaesthetists fees
- Hospital/Facility fees
- Type of Surgery
- Post Operative Medication/Vitamins
It is important to not to take shortcuts with surgery, these are life changing operations that if not done correctly or properly by a competent and experienced surgeon could lead to some serious medical issues later down the track. It is not advised to travel to third world countries in order to find the cheapest deal possible as often you are left with a second rate surgery in a second rate theatre with no post-operative support later on. While saying that it is important to be able to tell the difference between a highly experienced surgeon who charges a bit more and a second rate surgeon who charges the same price.
After the Gastric Ballooning
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. Patients are warned to refrain from eating pasta or other foods that may stick to the balloon in order to reduce the risk of vomiting and are encouraged to sip water after every meal in order to rinse the balloon and again reduce the risk of vomiting, this is to be carried out for the whole period the balloon is inserted.
During the first week or so patients may experience varying discomfort or nausea and is a small chance (around 5-10%) 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.