Obesity Surgery Options - Gastric Ballooning
The intragastric balloon device is not considered a permanent weight loss procedure. The intragastric balloon is primarily used to provide initial weight loss in a severely morbidly obese patient prior to definitive surgery to make it safer. It may also be used in patients who do not qualify for definitive surgery.
An inflatable balloon is placed in the stomach, under guidance and vision using a gastroscope. It is placed under sedation, and does not usually require a full anaesthetic.
All balloons are temporary, and need to be removed after a period of time as long term presence in the stomach may cause severe complications such as perforation of the stomach. There are newer models on the market that can stay in place for one year, instead of the usual 6 months. . Patients are usually very uncomfortable in the first week, and about 5-10% of patients require early removal due to intolerance of the device.
Most of the weight loss occurs in the first few months, then slows down in most patients. Weight loss is variable but averages about 10% of initial weight at 6 months. (BMI drops by 4-9 kg/m2.) Long term results are lacking, especially with the yearlong balloons, but broadly speaking, if initial BMI < 30, about 1/3 will maintain weight loss; 1/3 will regain weight; and 1/3 will regain and put on further weight.
Severe complications are rare (< 0.1%) but patient satisfaction is not great (60% satisfied). There is no insurance coverage for an intragastric balloon in NZ, nor in Australia at this point.(2011)