Gastric Balloon Procedure Abroad
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Gastric Balloon

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Gastric Balloon

Gastric Balloon Procedure Abroad

Obesity is a major problem in modern society, and the number of cases is increasing alarmingly. Overweight and obesity often lead to a low self-esteem and negatively affect the patients on a social, emotional, and professional level. People struggling with extra pounds have a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, gallstones, high cholesterol and triglycerides, a stroke,  and coronary artery disease (CAD), among other conditions.

The gastric balloon (also known as the intragastric balloon) is an inflatable, soft medical device that is temporarily inserted into the stomach in order to reduce weight. The balloon is made of silicone, which is durable and resistant to stomach acid.

This procedure is effective in helping people lose weight since it allows only a small amount of food to be consumed, thus reducing caloric intake. Like the gastric band, the balloon restricts overeating and helps patients to ingest smaller portions of food, while feeling full. The gastric balloon is inserted endoscopically, therefore it is a non-surgical procedure.

It is an option for selected patients when diet and exercise have failed and surgery is not wanted or not recommended. The procedure can also be suited for patients struggling with morbid obesity, as a solution before undergoing the bariatric surgery. In morbidly obese individuals, the gastric balloon will help the weight loss process, thus reducing surgical risks.


Types of Gastric Balloon Procedures

Currently, there are two types of gastric balloons:

  • Single balloon – used for patients who are not morbidly obese, but want to lose 30 – 45 pounds in order to kick-start their weight loss process.
  • Dual-balloon – encourages greater weight loss and is usually used in morbidly obese patients


Causes of Obesity

Most of the times, obesity is caused by overeating and moving too little. By consuming high amounts of energy (particularly fat and sugars) without burning them off through physical activity, most of the surplus energy will be stored by the body as fat. Other causes that may contribute to weight gain can be genetics and certain medical reasons such as hypothyroidism and Cushing's syndrome.


What You Need to Know About Gastric Balloon Procedure

A fairly simple procedure, the gastric balloon only takes 20-30 minutes to insert and inflate. To insert the balloon, the physician first passes a small camera through the mouth directly into the stomach. This is done to ensure no abnormalities are present and it is safe to insert the gastric balloon. Once the physician has determined everything is okay, he or she will pass the deflated gastric balloon into the stomach. To ease discomfort, the doctor might offer a local anesthetic to numb the throat to make it easier to swallow. In some cases, muscle relaxants are also used to sooth throat muscles.

After the balloon has made its way into the stomach, saline solution is then pumped into the balloon through a small tube (catheter) attached to the balloon. After inflation, the tube is removed. The balloon has a self-sealing valve. The balloon floats within the stomach. Physicians also add a specially made green dye so that in the event of the balloon leaks or ruptures, the patient's urine will change color, thereby alerting them to visit the doctor.

After the balloon is inserted and the patient is observed for a short time, he or she is free to leave the hospital. Since no general anesthesia is given, recovery time is virtually immediate. Patients might feel a slight discomfort for several days to several weeks as the stomach grows accustomed to the size of the gastric balloon. Slight side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and slight stomach cramping are common. After the first side effects subside, patients generally see the entire weight loss occur within six months from the time of insertion.

The physician will give each patient instructions of what they can eat or drink for the first few weeks after the procedure. The gastric balloon can remain in the stomach for a maximum of six months, though the majority of the weight loss will be achieved within the first four months. The balloon removal procedure takes about 20-30 minutes, just as in the insertion procedure. Those who use the gastric balloon to lose weight are expected to drop 35-40% of their excess weight. For many, that averages to about 30-50 pounds, but pounds lost will fluctuate between patients.


Benefits of Gastric Balloon Procedures

A major benefit of the gastric balloon is the ability to undergo a weight loss procedure without surgery. It takes 20-30 minutes and is virtually pain-free with little side effects. Patients lose a substantial amount of weight, in addition to consuming smaller portion sizes and learning to make healthier food choices. Anyone suffering from obesity may benefit from this procedure, as it functions much the same way as gastric banding, though without major surgery.


Cost of Gastric Balloon Procedures

The average cost for the gastric balloon in the United States is $8,150. In Mexico, the average price is $3,380, in the Philippines $3,685, in Dubai (UAE) $4,000, in Malaysia $4,100 and in India $6,000.


Choosing a Physician

As with any procedure, it's important to find a physician who has experience in weight loss procedures, particularly in the gastric balloon procedure. In addition, make sure that all facilities are state-of-the-art and clean and that the physician has the proper qualifications. Bariatric surgeons or specialists are trained and experienced in any gastric or weight loss techniques or methods, so make sure your physician or surgeon of choice is trained, certified and accredited in the type of weight loss procedure you're interested in.


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