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Intragastric balloon, Non-Surgical Treatment of Obesity

When other methods, such as diet and drugs have failed, an intragastric balloon may be the answer. The balloon is placed endoscopically (through the mouth and oesophagus under heavy sedation) and left in the stomach for several months, creating a feeling of fullness because the balloon takes up space in the stomach. This causes the patient to lose weight.

However, a supervised diet must still be followed and unhealthy life habits must be changed to prevent the weight being regained when the balloon is removed.

Benefits of the operation

The intragastric balloon improves patients' quality of life and reduces diseases associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea syndrome, hypertension, cardiac function disorders and problems with the musculoskeletal system, among others.

Medical-technical description

The empty balloon is inserted through the mouth and is then filled with a sterile solution (between 400 and 700 cc depending on the type of patient.

In principle, it stays there for six months during which time the patient must acquire healthy living and eating habits which must continue after the balloon has been removed. The balloon is then emptied and removed by gastroscopy.

About the operation

The patient is sedated and the operation takes place in the theatre. It is quick and takes approximately one hour. There is no need for a hospital stay.  Patients are ready to go home within around two hours.

Before the operation

  • The patient is examined by a specialist who decides whether or not he or she is a candidate for an intragastric balloon.
  • When you are admitted you will have a blood test, an electrocardiogram and your vital signs will be recorded.
  • You must not eat or drink for six to eight hours before your operation.
  • Do not wear underwear or dentures. You must remove all metal objects (such as rings, bracelets, earrings, body piercings, etc).

Post-operative care

  • After 24 hours you can start on a liquid diet, comprising juices, milk and broths. A nutritionist will closely follow your diet.
  • Stomach inflammation (gastritis) during the first two to three days can cause nausea and vomiting if the recommended diet is not followed.
  • Close contact is maintained with the patient.
  • After six months it will be decided whether to remove the balloon. This can be sooner if the target weight has been achieved.

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