Gastric Balloon - 14 Ways It Will Affect You

Reviewed by:  

Dr. Vafa Shayani

Last Updated:  

The gastric balloon procedure (endoscopic intragastric balloon) leaves 1 to 3 inflated silicon balloons in the stomach for 6 months, making less room for food. As a result, patients:

  • Feel full sooner while eating and therefore eat less
  • Lose about 30% of their excess weight in 6 months
  • Have health improvement for diabetes, joint/bone disease, and heart-related issues

Review the information below for a high level gastric balloon overview, and click to expand the sections for more information.

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Why the Gastric Balloon Works

  • Between 1 and 3 inflated balloons in the stomach (depending on the balloon type chosen) leave less room for food and cause patients to feel full sooner and eat less.

Preparing for Surgery

Your surgeon and their office will work closely with you to prepare for surgery, including:

  • Conduct a pre-procedure health assessment, where you will be asked questions about your medical history and medications.
  • Review your surgical history, as some complications can arise if you’ve had prior procedures on your stomach.
  • Order certain tests like an ECG, x-ray, and blood tests.
  • Instruct you to fast (no food) for at least 24 hours before surgery, with nothing to eat or drink 12 hours before surgery.

How the Gastric Balloon Procedure Is Performed

The gastric balloon procedure is performed differently depending on which balloon type you choose:

Orbera & ReShape

The Orbera and ReShape gastric balloon procedures usually takes no more than a half hour to perform (compared to about 2 hours for gastric sleeve), and most patients are out of the hospital on the same day.

Once you are set up in the treatment room, following are the steps:

  1. Your throat will be numbed with a special spray. The numbing sensation may feel strange, but it will help your throat tolerate the instruments used in the procedure. If you wish, you can also ask for an injection to make you feel sleepy, but these options will be discussed with you beforehand.
  2. After you are comfortable, the nurse will insert a plastic mouth guard between your teeth to keep your mouth open for the scope.
  3. The scope will be passed through your mouth and into your stomach. This will not be painful, and you will be able to breath without worry. The doctor may also need to pass some air down the scope to have a clear view. This too can be a strange feeling, and it may make you want to belch.
  4. The scope will be removed.
  5. The deflated balloon will be passed into your stomach and inflated with either air or saline solution.
  6. The scope will be passed into your stomach one final time to double check that the balloon is in the right position and properly inflated.

Orbera Video

ReShape Video

Obalon

The Obalon balloon procedure is the same as Orbera and ReShape above, except:

  1. The balloon is swallowed in pill form (3 balloon pills swallowed one at a time over 3 months) rather than being inserted with an endoscope.
  2. A scope is not used until the Obalon balloons are removed.

Obalon Video

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The average gastric balloon patient loses a moderate amount of weight very quickly after the procedure:

  • Month 3: Approximately 15% of excess weight
  • Month 6: Approximately 30% of excess weight

Actual weight loss could be higher or lower.

The most popular types of balloon must be removed after 6 months, so long-term weight loss depends entirely on the patient’s diet and lifestyle choices. In other words, gastric balloon should not be viewed as a “long-term fix.”

In fact, some patients use the balloon to lose weight before having a more involved procedure like gastric sleeve. More involved procedures have a lower complication rate when patients weigh less before surgery, so you may want to discuss this option with your surgeon.

References: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

See our Gastric Balloon Reviews page to read about real life weight loss stories.

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Gastric balloon patients are more likely to see health improvements than people of similar weight who do not have the procedure.

While studies are limited, one of the broadest was a 13-year study of 261 gastric balloon patients across multiple bariatric centers (6). It documented the following improvements 3 years after patients received the balloon:

Health Condition
Health Condition
Diabetes
Diabetes
Dyslipidemia
Dyslipidemia
High Cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
High Cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
Joint/Bone Disease (osteoarthropathy)
Joint/Bone Disease (osteoarthropathy)
Health Condition
Patients with Health Condition
Diabetes
Decreased from 15% to 10%
Dyslipidemia
Decreased from 20% to 18%
High Cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
Decreased from 32% to 21%
High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
Decreased from 29% to 16%
Joint/Bone Disease (osteoarthropathy)
Decreased from 25% to 13%

Click here to learn more about obesity-related health problems.

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You could be a good candidate for the gastric balloon procedure if you:

  • Are at least 18 years of age
  • Have a body mass index (BMI) in the following ranges by country:
  • For some types of balloons, such as the ReShape Balloon, you must have a health risk associated with obesity (also known as a “comorbidity”) like diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea. For other balloon types, like the Orbera balloon, no comorbidities are required.

Use the calculator at the top of this section to calculate your body mass index.

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On average, the total cost of the gastric balloon procedure is $8,150 before financing and tax savings.

It is usually not covered by insurance, although your surgeon may be able to get some of the costs covered.

Insurance: Case-by-Case Basis, Usually Not Covered

While approved for use in most countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, the intragastric balloon is not typically covered by insurance other than in the UK.

Click your country for more information:

United States: Usually Not Covered

In the United States, most insurance policies, including those from Medicare and most major insurance companies, specifically exclude the intragastric balloon from coverage because it has not been around long enough.

For example, Medicare states it is not covered because “the long term safety and efficacy of the device in the treatment of obesity has not been established.” (12)

However, it is possible that your surgeon’s office can help you get your insurance company to cover some or all of your procedure, depending on your circumstances.

Free Insurance Check: Click here to contact a top gastric balloon surgeon. Most offer a free insurance check for qualifying patients.

Canada: Not Covered

Unfortunately, Canada’s national health insurance program does not currently cover the gastric balloon.

Australia: Usually Not Covered

In Australia, your Health Fund may cover part of the procedure (such as the gastroscopy) but will probably not cover the majority of the costs.

United Kingdom: May Be Covered

In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) may cover the procedure if you can prove that your weight is impacting your health to a large enough degree. This determination is made on a case-by-case basis and may take several months.

Average Cost By Location

Following are the results of our annual gastric balloon price survey by country:

Country
Country
United States
United States
Australia
Australia
Canada
Canada
Mexico
Mexico
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Country
Average Cost (US Dollars)
United States
$8,150
Australia
$4,178
Canada
$8,250
Mexico
$5,800 (15)
$5,800 (15)
United Kingdom
$6,195
Country
Cost Range (US Dollars)
United States
$6,000 – $10,000
Australia
$2,976 – $5,379 (13)
$2,976 – $5,379 (13)
Canada
$8000 – $8,500 (14)
$8000 – $8,500 (14)
Mexico
N/A
United Kingdom
$5,800 – $6,590

Free Insurance Check & Cost Quote: Click here to contact a top gastric balloon surgeon

Vs. Other Procedures: Lowest Cost Without Insurance / 5th Lowest With Insurance

Gastric balloon has the lowest total cost out of all available types of weight loss surgery. It has the 3rd highest cost for patients with insurance.

Free Insurance Check & Cost Quote: Click here to contact a top gastric balloon surgeon

See our Types of Bariatric Surgery page for a full comparison.

Cost Components: Pre-Op, Costs During Surgery, & Post-Op

Below are all potential gastric balloon cost categories:

Pre-Op (Costs Before Surgery)

  • Dietitian/nutritionist consultations
  • Psychologist (mental health clearance)
  • Cardiologist (heart health clearance)
  • Lab/blood work, echocardiogram (also known as an “ECG” or “EKG”) and/or X-Ray fees
  • Surgeon consultation fees

Standard Costs During Surgery

  • Hospital fees
  • Surgeon fees
  • Surgical assistant fees
  • Anesthesia fees
  • Operating room fees

Non-Standard Costs During Surgery (May Carry Extra Costs)

  • Pathologist fees (for reviewing biopsies, if necessary)
  • Radiologist fees (for reviewing x-rays, if necessary)

Post-Op (Costs After Surgery)

  • Addressing any complications
  • Follow-up doctor visits
  • Bariatric vitamins
  • Extra food costs (healthier food tends to cost more)
  • Personal trainer and/or gym membership
  • New clothes (wait to go crazy with this until you reach your plateau weight)
  • Plastic surgery to remove sagging skin (more on this in the Downsides section below)

Discounts: 6 Discounts to Ask Your Surgeon About

Ask your surgeon if any of these discounts are available:

  • Self-Pay Discounts. Most surgeons offer self-pay discounts or payment plans. Just ask!
  • Other Discounts. Some offer discounts if you pay the total amount you owe in advance.
  • Same Surgeon, Different Hospitals. Some surgeons operate at more than one hospital. Hospital costs make up the biggest part of the bill, so find out if your surgeon has a choice.
  • Pre-Op Costs. Some surgeons include pre-op costs in their quoted fees. Pre-op costs include things like testing and office visits.
  • Complications. Complications, should they arise, may increase total costs. Find out who will pay if one arises during surgery. Some surgeons will include the cost of any complications in their quote while others will charge extra.
  • Health Insurance. You may still get insurance to pay for some costs that could be applied to covered treatments. For example, lab work is needed for many reasons unrelated to the gastric balloon. Your surgeon can help you find the savings opportunities in your plan.

Financing: 7 Ways to Make Surgery More Affordable

Gastric balloon loans are available almost everywhere to help pay for:

  • The entire cost of surgery
  • The part that insurance doesn’t cover, like deductibles, copays, or coinsurance

The full list of financing options to make gastric balloon more affordable include (click links for more information):

  • Payment Plan Through a Qualified Surgeon
  • Brokers, Direct Lenders, and Credit Cards (Unsecured Medical Loans)
  • Friends & Family
  • Secured Medical Loans
  • Retirement Plan Loans
  • Permanent Life Insurance Loans
  • Medical travel – having surgery in a location that is less expensive than where you live

Gastric Balloon Loan Application: Click here to contact a top gastric balloon surgeon to discuss your loan options

For more information about each of these options, click here.

Tax Savings: Tax Deductions & Special Tax-Favored Accounts

Click your country below to find out if tax savings are available:

United States: Might Be Deductible, Special Tax-Favored Accounts Available

Gastric balloon is tax deductible – you can deduct all medical expenses if the costs are more than 10% of your adjusted gross income.

To receive the deductions, you’ll need to complete Schedule A of the IRS Form 1040. You’ll also need to save your medical bills and payment statements as proof.

Money in special savings accounts (or even your IRA) may also be a way to pay for part of surgery tax-free:

  • Health Savings Account (HSA) – You can open an HSA alongside a “qualified high deductible” health plan. Tax-free HSA money can be used pay for qualified medical expenses. No other account receives better tax treatment. You can even transfer IRA money into an HSA. See the IRS’s Site for more info.
  • Archer Medical Savings Account (Archer MSA) – Archer MSAs are like HSAs for the self-employed or small businesses. Click here for details.
  • Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) – HRAs are only offered by employers who set them up and contribute money to them. If your company offers one, make sure your plan allows the use of HRA funds to pay for “all qualified medical expenses.” Click here for more info.
  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – Both employers and employees can contribute to an FSA, also known by its IRS code, “Section 125”. Money from them can be taken out tax-free if it is used for qualified medical expenses. Click here to get the summary from the IRS.

Canada: Is Deductible

Canada is generous compared to other countries when it comes to medical tax deductions. If you have a prescription, receipt, or other documentation, you can write them off.

If surgery is covered by your insurance, you can still deduct your:

  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Monthly insurance premium.

If your income is below a certain amount, you may qualify for a tax credit called the refundable medical expense supplement.

Australia: Might Be Deductible

You can write off your bariatric surgery expenses if the costs are over the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) threshold.

According to the ATO:

“To claim the net medical expenses tax offset in your tax return, you will need to know the total medical expenses you incurred for yourself and your dependants. You then deduct any refunds from Medicare, your health fund or any other reimbursements that relate to those expenses received during the financial year.”

Click here for updated Medicare Benefit Tax Statement information from the Department of Human Services.

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After the procedure, gastric balloon patients usually:

  • Leave the hospital and return home the same day.
  • Have someone who is willing and able to drive them home and take care of them for at least 24 hours. The patient’s throat will probably be sore following the procedure since the balloon was inserted through the mouth.
  • Have fully recovered and are back to work within 3 days.
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Most gastric balloon patients lose a moderate amount of weight very quickly after the procedure. The average excess weight loss is:

  • 15% within 3 months
  • 30% when the balloon is removed after 6 months

Life with the gastric balloon will be very similar to life before, with a few exceptions:

  • You will feel full sooner while eating, causing you to eat less and lose weight
  • If food sticks to your balloon, you may experience vomiting. To reduce this risk, you should avoid foods that are likely to stick to your balloon, like pasta, and sip water after you eat to rinse your balloon.
  • Regularly attending online or in-person weight loss surgery support group meetings (luckily, many are free) can be a huge help and is highly recommended.

The following sections give you an idea about what to expect after surgery.

Food & Drink: Your 14-Day Diet Transition Schedule

Improving your food choices and lifestyle habits will be the most important change after the procedure. The gastric balloon provides a great opportunity to “jumpstart” a longer-term diet and exercise program. However, since it is not a permanent solution (no more than 6 months to one year), many patients wisely use this time to change long-term habits.

Your surgeon’s dietitian or nutritionist, and sometimes a personal trainer, will help get you on track for long-term success. Here is what your diet transition will look like:

Timeframe
Day 1

In the first 24 hours, you should only drink clear liquids. Your dietitian will probably recommend you drink:

  • Water
  • Broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
  • Ice Chips
  • Crystal Light
  • Propel Fitness Water (Zero Calorie only)
  • Powerade (Zero Calorie only)

Additional recommendations may include:

  • Drink warm liquids instead of cold liquids
  • Do NOT drink carbonated drinks – these will cause gas and bloating
  • Drink at least 8 cups of liquid per day. This keeps you hydrated and prevents constipation
  • Start by taking small sips. Wait a minute or two between sips, and try and increase the amount you sip as you get more comfortable. You should take sips totaling no more than ⅓ of a cup at a time.
  • Sit upright after drinking, allowing gravity to help your system. If you are resting, use a recliner rather than lying flat
  • Do not drink more than one cup of coffee or caffeine drinks per day. Caffeine can cause you to become dehydrated, and it can cause cramping and diarrhea
Days 2 through 7

For Days 2 through 7 after surgery, you must still maintain a liquid diet, but you can begin to include non-clear liquids. Try to sip about 8 cups (2 liters) a day with no more than 3 – 3.5 ounces (100 ml) in one sitting.

Additional recommendations may include…

  • Semi-skimmed milk (recommended at least 600 ml a day)
  • Low calorie/reduced sugar squash
  • Herbal Teas
  • Water/Juice mixes
  • Clear beef or chicken broth soup
  • Any protein drinks recommended by your surgeon
Days 7 through 14

About a week after surgery, you will switch to a pureed food diet. Your doctor will work with you regarding the exact timing and what foods you should be eating.

This diet will likely consist of pureed lean protein foods, such as fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, or dairy and soy products. These should always be accompanied by high ratios of pureed fruits and vegetables.

Diet Requirements
Timeframe – Diet Requirements

In the first 24 hours, you should only drink clear liquids. Your dietitian will probably recommend you drink:

  • Water
  • Broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
  • Ice Chips
  • Crystal Light
  • Propel Fitness Water (Zero Calorie only)
  • Powerade (Zero Calorie only)

Additional recommendations may include:

  • Drink warm liquids instead of cold liquids
  • Do NOT drink carbonated drinks – these will cause gas and bloating
  • Drink at least 8 cups of liquid per day. This keeps you hydrated and prevents constipation
  • Start by taking small sips. Wait a minute or two between sips, and try and increase the amount you sip as you get more comfortable. You should take sips totaling no more than ⅓ of a cup at a time.
  • Sit upright after drinking, allowing gravity to help your system. If you are resting, use a recliner rather than lying flat
  • Do not drink more than one cup of coffee or caffeine drinks per day. Caffeine can cause you to become dehydrated, and it can cause cramping and diarrhea
Days 2 through 7 – Liquid Diet

For Days 2 through 7 after surgery, you must still maintain a liquid diet, but you can begin to include non-clear liquids. Try to sip about 8 cups (2 liters) a day with no more than 3 – 3.5 ounces (100 ml) in one sitting.

Additional recommendations may include…

  • Semi-skimmed milk (recommended at least 600 ml a day)
  • Low calorie/reduced sugar squash
  • Herbal Teas
  • Water/Juice mixes
  • Clear beef or chicken broth soup
  • Any protein drinks recommended by your surgeon
Days 7 through 14 – Pureed Food Diet

About a week after surgery, you will switch to a pureed food diet. Your doctor will work with you regarding the exact timing and what foods you should be eating.

This diet will likely consist of pureed lean protein foods, such as fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, or dairy and soy products. These should always be accompanied by high ratios of pureed fruits and vegetables.

After your balloon is removed, your surgeon will discuss options such as continuing your new diet and exercise regimen, replacing your balloon with a new one, or potentially transitioning to a more permanent type of weight loss surgery.

Exercise: 2.5 hours per week, spread out over 2 to 4 days

Exercise is almost as important as your diet when it comes to long-term success:

  • Patients who exercise regularly lose more weight over the long-term
  • Physical and mental health benefits are incredible

How much exercise do you need to for noticeable results?

While no studies exist for the gastric balloon procedure, one study of gastric bypass patients found that 2.5 hours per week resulted in 5.7% greater excess weight loss (16).

To help you stay on track, block out time to exercise at the same times on the same days of the week.

Also, spread your 2.5 hours per week out over 3 or 4 days (in other words, 30 to 45 minutes 3 or 4 days per week). This will make it less intimidating to get started each day and will help you build endurance.

Exercise Types

There should be 3 main goals of your exercise routine:

  • Endurance – walking, stationary bike, and especially swimming
  • Flexibility – a good stretching routine. Yoga is best since it incorporates proper breathing and uses your own body weight to build strength
  • Strength – exercise balls, weights, and yoga

Click here to learn more about exercise after weight loss surgery.

Your Brain: Careful About Food Addiction, New Mentality Will Change Behavior & Relationships

Food Addiction

Our bodies secrete certain hormones that tell us when we’re hungry. Junk food may override those hormone signals by overstimulating our reward centers. This is just like the way our bodies and brains react to an addictive drug.

You may have food addiction if your desire for food takes priority over other important parts of your life, such as:

  • Personal health
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Work
  • Your appearance
  • Avoiding obesity related health issues like hypertension, sleep apnea, or diabetes

If left unchecked, food addiction can lead to obesity. If not addressed before surgery, it can also lead to weight regain.

To find out if you may be suffering from food addiction, take our Food Addiction Quiz.

Relationships After Weight Loss

Being thinner again, or being thinner for the first time, may be a shocking experience. Many patients express amazement at:

  • Less obesity discrimination. For example, strangers tend to be nicer to thinner people.
  • Being treated with more respect
  • Getting more romantic interest from others
  • Building deeper relationships by being able to physically keep up with kids and more physically fit friends
  • Getting more compliments from others
  • Increased self-confidence and the effect that has on others
  • Improvements in quality of sexual life (17)

But there may be negatives to being thinner as well.

People who you’ve known for a long time will not be used to the way you look and may not know how to act around you. For example:

  • How will overweight friends or family members feel when you’re losing weight but they are not?
  • Will your new healthier diet and smaller portion sizes make meals with others awkward?
  • Could intimacy with your spouse or partner be affected?
  • Could your spouse or partner become jealous now that others are noticing you more?
  • How will your coworkers react? Should you even tell them you are having surgery?
  • Will your friends or family make it difficult for you to stay on track by making bad diet choices?
  • Could your new self-confidence create conflict with people who are used the “old” you?

And what about the new “skinny lens” you see the world through? For example:

  • Would this person be treating me the same way if I hadn’t lost all this weight?
  • How do I handle obesity discrimination now that I’m on the “other side”?

Be prepared for both the good and the challenging “shocks” of weight loss following your gastric balloon procedure.

For real life experiences and advice from other patients, see our Relationships After Weight Loss surgery page.

Removal: Required in 6 Months

The gastric balloon is not designed as a long-term fix. Because of the risk of it interfering with your stomach, the balloon is usually removed after 6 months. However, it could be left in place anywhere from 12 weeks to 1 year, depending on your results and the type of balloon you receive.

Since the balloon procedure is temporary, it is usually used in tandem with one or both of the following:

  • A managed diet and exercise program – After removal, it is recommended you stick with a managed weight loss program, and then maintain your newly established diet going forward. Most practices combine the balloon with a lifestyle management program for 6 months after the removal of the balloon. This will ensure you maintain the weight you lost while the balloon was in place.
  • An additional bariatric procedure, like the gastric sleeve or Lap-Band, which is performed after the balloon is removed. Any weight loss that results from the balloon will reduce the risk of complications and increase the likelihood of long-term success of a more involved bariatric procedure.

It is also possible to have another balloon inserted after removal. However, because the balloon is used in tandem with a diet and exercise program your surgeon will likely ask you to wait a little while to determine whether there are less invasive ways to maintain a healthy weight.

A qualified surgeon will help you make the best choice.

Gastric Balloon Removal Procedure

The gastric balloon removal procedure takes about 20 to 30 minutes and is very similar to the insertion procedure for the Orbera, ReShape, and Spatz systems (Obalon uses swallowed pills for balloon insertion):

  1. No food 24 to 48 hours before surgery (depends on surgeon)
  2. No food or drink 12 hours before surgery
  3. Scope and instrument passed through mouth to deflate balloon(s)
  4. Balloon is removed through the mouth
  5. Return home the same day
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The intragastric balloon is relatively low-risk and issue-free. However, as with any medical procedure, there are potential risks and side effects.

Click below for more information:

Potential Gastric Balloon Complications

Potential complications associated with the gastric balloon include (click links for more info):

Acute Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation in the pancreas. It may occur due to the inflated balloon compressing internal organs. Symptoms can be felt as soon as a few days after the balloon is implanted and include severe abdominal/back pain, bloating, nausea, and loss of appetite.

Early removal of the balloon is likely the only fix. Fortunately, removal of the gastric balloon can be done on an emergency basis if severe complications arise.

Acute pancreatitis following gastric balloon implantation is being investigated by the FDA as a contributor or cause of death in five patients. The FDA has issued a safety alert, warning consumers about risks associated with gastric balloon and acute pancreatitis. The FDA investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as necessary.

Apollo Endosurgery, a popular gastric balloon provider implemented in the investigation, has defended their product. They report that complications are rare, and that patients often have pre-existing conditions that contribute to health issues after gastric balloon implantation. They emphasize that remaining obese carries more risk than interventions like gastric balloon.

ReShape, the other gastric balloon provider mentioned in the FDA alert, has not released a statement on the investigation.

Anesthesia

Risks associated with any endoscopic procedure and sedation (being “put to sleep”). Many gastric balloon patients do not require full sedation.

Overinflation

If your balloon is overinflated, you may experience strong abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, vomiting, or difficulty breathing as soon as one week after the balloon is implanted. Early removal of the balloon may be required to resolve the issue. More research needs to be done to determine what is causing overinflation.

Overinflation following gastric balloon implantation is being investigated by the FDA as a contributor or cause of death in five patients. They have issued a safety alert, warning consumers about risks associated with the gastric balloon and overinflation. The FDA investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as necessary.

Apollo Endosurgery, a popular gastric balloon provider, has defended their product. They report that complications are rare, and that patients often have pre-existing conditions that contribute to health issues after gastric balloon implantation. They emphasize that remaining obese carries more risk than interventions like gastric balloon.

Reshape, the other gastric balloon provider mentioned in the FDA alert, has not released a statement on the investigation.

Punctured Esophagus

Because the surgeon uses a scope when performing the procedure, there is a slight chance that the scope could puncture the esophagus. However, this is very rare, with one practice saying that in the several hundred procedures they have performed, they have never encountered the problem.

Stomach Blockage

It is possible for the balloon to deflate in the stomach and cause a blockage. This is why one system, the ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System has two, independent balloons – if one deflates the other will keep the entire apparatus in the stomach. Most balloons are also filled with a dye designed to turn your urine an unusual color (like blue or green) so you know to alert your surgeon about an issue with your balloon.

Stomach Ulcer or Rupture

To reduce the risk of an ulcer, your surgeon will most likely prescribe anti-ulcer medication for the entire time the balloon is in your stomach. Stomach rupture is extremely rare, and usually will only happen if you have already had some kind of stomach surgery, which means that most surgeons you speak with will most likely not be willing to perform the procedure if you have already undergone another stomach procedure.

If, in the middle of the procedure, the surgeon discovers an ulcer or a very large hiatus hernia, the procedure will be ended prematurely by the surgeon for safety reasons.

See our Bariatric Surgery Complications page for more information about each of these points.

Preventing Gastric Balloon Complications

Behaviors that will dramatically reduce the already low risk of gastric balloon complications include:

  • Pick a good surgeon
  • Follow your surgical team’s advice to the letter
  • Talk with your surgeon about the above list of potential complications. A couple of the issues (acute pancreatitis and over-inflation) are recent discoveries and therefore not included in the device labeling, so your surgeon may be unaware of them unless one of their patients has experienced the issue.
  • Educate yourself
  • Educate your family
  • Eat a healthy diet in the months leading up to your procedure
  • Plan for at least 3 days of recovery time
  • Have an effective support system of friends, family, and weight loss surgery support groups

Gastric Balloon Side Effects

Cramps, Nausea, & Vomiting – Because your stomach will be readjusting to the presence of the balloon, in the first couple weeks after the procedure you will probably experience some combination of cramps, nausea, and possibly vomiting.

After the first couple of weeks, if food sticks to your balloon, you may experience vomiting. To reduce this risk, you should avoid foods that are likely to stick to your balloon, like pasta, and sip water after you eat to rinse your balloon.

Bloating – Some people also report feeling bloated. Most likely this is from the feeling of the balloon in the stomach, however, if you are concerned, speak with your surgeon’s office. Don’t let this feeling discourage you – the feeling is probably an indication that the balloon is doing its job.

Weight Regain

Unless you establish and maintain a proper diet and exercise program or transition to a more involved bariatric surgery, you will regain all of your weight when your balloon is removed.

See the Diet & Life After section above for more information.

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Compared with other procedures, the following is generally true about the gastric balloon procedure:

Qualification:
  • Lower BMI range for approval (30 to 40 vs the usual 35+)
Cost & Insurance:
  • Lowest cost if you don’t have insurance that covers weight loss surgery
  • 2nd highest cost if you do have insurance that covers weight loss surgery
Procedure:
  • Fewer qualified surgeons available than gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, duodenal switch, and Lap-Band
  • One of 4 reversible weight loss procedures (alongside Lap-Band, vBloc Therapy, and AspireAssist)
  • Quickest and easiest recovery (only procedure with no incisions)
Results:
  • Temporary solution (no longer than 6 months); all other procedures are intended to be permanent or long-term
  • Less weight loss and less dramatic health improvement than the more involved gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, DS, and Lap-Band
  • Similar weight loss and health improvement as AspireAssist
  • More weight loss and health improvement than vBloc Therapy
Risks:
  • Among the lowest complication and mortality rates
Life After:
  • Fewer diet restrictions than sleeve, bypass, DS, and band (vBloc Therapy and AspireAssist also have minimal diet restrictions)
  • Less severe side effects than sleeve, bypass, DS and band

For a more-detailed comparison, see our Types of Bariatric Surgery page.

Gastric Balloon: Test Your Knowledge

Well-educated patients are more likely to be successful over the long-term. Test your knowledge to ensure that you're ready to take the next step!

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Questions From Other Visitors*

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…

Gastric Balloon Surgery After Failed Lap Band*

I had my lap band removed just over 2 years ago.Can I still have the gastric balloon procedure done? Is there any reason that a former or current lap band…


Gastric Balloon Side Effects: Most Common & How To Avoid*

What are the most common gastric balloon side effects immediately following surgery and while the balloon is in place?For example, I've read some stories about it being painful for some…


Gastric Balloon Insertion & Removal: What To Expect*

What does it feel like when the gastric balloon is inserted? Does it hurt? Is there a difference between different balloon types?Also does the surgeon's technique matter? And how about…


Orbera Balloon and Elipse Balloon Reviews?*

Hello, I am looking into getting the stomach balloon. My daughter's wedding is coming up next summer and I want to be in tip-top shape for her beautiful day. I…


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* Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided for general information purposes and your specific results may vary depending on a variety of circumstances. It is not intended as nor should be relied upon as medical advice. Rather, it is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing physician(s). Before you use any of the information provided in the site, you should seek the advice of a qualified medical, dietary, fitness or other appropriate professional. Read More