Gastric balloon - Medical specialists

A gastric balloon is a silicone balloon filled with a liquid or air that is inserted into the stomach. It ensures a quicker feeling of satiety during food intake.

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Gastric balloon - Further information

The balloon helps overweight people to lose weight and is removed after six months at the latest. In contrast to other methods of treating overweight patients, such as a gastric sleeve or a gastric bypass, the gastric balloon is a non-surgical method.

Suitability for treatment with a gastric balloon

The gastric balloon should only be used in cases of moderate overweight. However, not every patient is eligible for this type of treatment.

Treatment with a gastric balloon is not possible for the following groups:

  • Patients who have previously undergone stomach or oesophagus surgery
  • Patients with diseases, ulcers or malformations of the stomach or esophagus
  • patients with an addiction, such as alcohol or drug addiction, or with an eating disorder, such as bulimia
  • Patients with severe mental disorders
  • pregnant women
  • Patients who are dependent on the intake of anticoagulant medication

Inserting the gastric balloon

Prior to inserting a gastric balloon, various examinations are carried out. These include a gastroscopy. During a gastroscopy, a so-called endoscope is inserted through the mouth into the stomach via the esophagus. The endoscope is equipped with a light and a camera so that the doctor can examine the esophagus and stomach for pathological changes.

To insert the balloon, the endoscope is removed and the folded gastric balloon is pushed into the stomach by a tube. The doctor then uses the endoscope to check whether the balloon is in the correct position. Then the balloon is filled. Usually 400 to 700 milliliters of blue saline solution are used for this. However, the balloon can also be filled with air. After filling the balloon, the tube is pulled out and the position of the balloon is checked again with the endoscope.

The procedure lasts about 20 to 30 minutes on average and is only performed with light sedation. The procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis, but the patient should not actively participate in road traffic afterwards.

Side effects, risks and complications of treatment with a gastric balloon

Especially in the days following the insertion of the balloon, strong side effects can occur. The body has to get used to the foreign body first and can react with a feeling of fullness, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. However, the patient's body usually gets used to the balloon within three to seven days. If the symptoms persist, the stomach balloon should be removed again.

While the gastric balloon is being inserted, injuries to the teeth, stomach or esophagus may be caused by the endoscope in rare cases. There is also the risk that the gastric balloon bursts or tears. Then the balloon can cause an intestinal obstruction, which must be treated immediately in hospital.

That is why most balloons nowadays are filled with blue saline solution instead of air. If the balloon bursts, the saline solution escapes and the liquid turns the urine blue. This allows gastric balloon carriers to recognize immediately if there is a leak in the balloon. The balloon can then be removed before intestinal obstruction occurs. With an air-filled balloon, there is no sign of a leak, so the risk of intestinal obstruction is increased.

Removal oft he gastric balloon

A gastric balloon is removed after six months at the latest. This is to minimise the risk of the balloon tearing due to the effects of stomach acid and stomach movements. Another gastroscopy is performed to remove the balloon. The balloon is punctured so that the liquid or air can escape. As soon as the balloon is empty again, it can be pulled out through the esophagus and be removed. The procedure normally takes only a few minutes.

Effectiveness of the gastric balloon

The effectiveness of a gastric balloon also depends on the patient himself. Since the balloon is only meant to help the patient lose weight, dietary and lifestyle habits have to be changed as well. Therefore, weight loss through a gastric balloon is not possible if, for example, the patient continues to drink only sugary lemonade and eat fast food. That is why an accompanying dietary consultation can be useful and helpful.

Patients who exercise regularly maximize the effectiveness of this method. After the removal of the gastric balloon, it depends solely on the patient whether he or she regains weight. In order to avoid this, the patient must adhere to the new eating habits even after removing the balloon. If he returns to his old eating habits, he will quickly gain weight again.

Costs of a gastric balloon

The cost for a gastric balloon can vary greatly. It depends on the amount of treatment required and the doctor treating you. A gastric balloon is not covered by health insurance as a standard procedure and is only paid for by health insurance under certain conditions. When choosing the treatment, not only the price should be considered, but also the quality of the treatment. For this purpose, experiences should be exchanged with other patients or doctor evaluation portals should be used. In addition, it should be noted that patients who pay for the procedure themselves also have to pay for the treatment of possible complications.

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