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Gastric Balloon FAQ's

Is The Gastric Balloon Pill Available On The Nhs?

The availability of the gastric balloon pill on the NHS (National Health Service) may vary, and it is recommended to consult with your healthcare provider or contact the NHS directly for more information.

In order to ensure your safety and provide you with the most suitable surgical option, there are guidelines that must be met. These guidelines are designed to assess your eligibility for a gastric balloon procedure. Typically, individuals with a BMI of 40 or above are considered clinically obese and may qualify for the procedure. However, if your BMI is above 35 and you have a medical condition such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure that can be significantly improved by weight loss, you may also be considered a candidate for a gastric balloon. In some cases, a gastric balloon may be offered to individuals with a BMI as low as 30, although this is temporary in nature.

It is important to demonstrate that a gastric balloon is your last resort, indicating that you have made previous attempts to lose weight using various techniques that have been unsuccessful. Additionally, you must be prepared to make lifestyle changes as weight loss can be challenging. A motivated and determined attitude is necessary to achieve the best possible results.

These guidelines and requirements are in place to ensure your safety and increase the likelihood of successful outcomes from the gastric balloon procedure. It is essential to discuss your specific circumstances with a qualified healthcare professional to determine your eligibility and suitability for the procedure.

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In the first week after your procedure, you should not plan any heavy activity. Once your body has adjusted to the balloon, however, there is no reason why you can’t continue with your normal exercise regime. In fact, starting a regular exercise programme is highly recommended and will improve your chances of weight loss success. The only activities we recommend you avoid are contact sports that might involve blows to the abdomen e.g. rugby, martial arts. Within your aftercare package, you will receive access to the Gastric Balloon Group App with hundreds of fitness classes to suit all fitness levels and styles. Whether you’re a regular gym bunny or a complete novice, there will be exercises to suit your needs and get you moving! You’ll also receive a series of fitness videos to do at home.

The gastric balloon procedure is very safe,  but as with any procedure, there is a chance of experiencing a complication and no matter how small the risk, we need to make you aware.

We are regularly asked whether the Intragastric balloon can burst and although we have to make you aware that this is a possibility, the risk is very small.

Gastric balloons, typically made of soft and flexible materials, are designed to be placed within the stomach temporarily. By occupying space in the stomach, they create a feeling of fullness, helping individuals reduce their food intake and promote weight loss. While gastric balloons offer a less invasive alternative to surgery, concerns about their integrity and potential for bursting persist.

Balloon rupture can occur due to various factors, including excessive pressure, overinflation, or inherent weaknesses in the balloon material. Although rare, when a gastric balloon bursts, it poses potential risks to the patient’s health and may require immediate medical attention.

As a precaution, when the balloon is filled at implantation, a harmless methylene blue dye is added so you experience green coloured urine, this would indicate a rupture and a removal procedure would be arranged by your health professional.

Bowel obstruction and perforation are the most significant concerns if your balloon bursts. Symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, vomiting, or difficulty swallowing should never be ignored, as they may indicate a burst balloon. Other potential risks include allergic reactions, acid reflux, and aspiration pneumonia, although these are less common.

It is becoming increasingly common to be asked whether someone is eligible for a gastric balloon based on their age. So how old do you have to be, or can you be too old, to have a gastric balloon?

Our clinical protocol is to perform Intragastric balloon procedures only on consenting adults, so over the age of 18. This is to ensure that the young adult has not only physically matured but is also emotionally mature enough to make informed consent for a medical procedure of this nature.

Can you be too old? At the other end of the age scale, we will consider performing gastric balloon procedures up to the age of 70. Our medical advisory board recommends that the physical effects of the balloon are not suitable for anyone above this age so 70 years of age has been set as our upper limit.

We know that everyone’s circumstances are different and we all age differently too. So, regardless of your age, you will have a consultation with a balloon specialist who will conduct a medical assessment with you and determine if the gastric balloon is suitable for you. So if you’re between 18 and 70, whether you’ve been trying to lose weight for a short time or decades, the gastric balloon could be a good solution for long-term success.

Orbera weight loss involves the use of the ORBERA gastric balloon, a soft silicone device designed to aid in portion control and facilitate weight loss. The balloon is temporarily placed in the stomach for approximately six months, helping individuals adjust to healthier portion sizes and promoting weight loss.

The placement of the ORBERA balloon is a simple outpatient procedure that does not require surgery. Prior to the procedure, a diagnostic endoscopy is performed to ensure its safety and suitability. Once the patient is comfortably sedated, the deflated balloon is inserted through the esophagus into the stomach. It is then filled with a sterile saline solution using a syringe. Once filled, the balloon expands to about the size of a grapefruit. The entire procedure typically takes around 20-30 minutes. After a brief recovery period of about two hours, patients can return home and begin their new lifestyle.

By occupying space in the stomach, the ORBERA balloon promotes feelings of fullness and helps individuals adapt to healthier portion sizes. Combined with a comprehensive weight loss program, the balloon assists in achieving significant weight loss results, often surpassing what can be accomplished through diet and exercise alone.

Gastric balloons are generally deemed safe; however, like any medical procedure, they do entail certain risks. While serious complications are infrequent, they may encompass balloon deflation, gastrointestinal obstruction, or infection. It is our priority to be transparent and ensure that you possess comprehensive knowledge regarding potential side effects.

It is important to note that the side effects experienced with gastric balloons are a natural response of your body to the presence of a foreign object in the stomach. Most side effects are transient and typically subside within 3-4 days. Patients generally recover and return to normalcy shortly thereafter.

Nausea and vomiting are common side effects following the procedure, affecting approximately 95% of individuals. These symptoms typically abate within 2 to 3 days but may lead to dehydration if not effectively managed. Depending on your clinician’s specific approach and protocols, they may recommend a brief inpatient stay of up to 48 hours after balloon insertion to closely monitor and address early symptoms. This may involve the administration of intravenous fluids and medication to alleviate nausea and vomiting.

Stomach cramps are another frequent side effect within the initial 48 hours after the procedure. The presence of the balloon may irritate the muscles of the stomach wall, resulting in gripping pains. Although these cramps can be uncomfortable, they are generally short-lived and ameliorate as the stomach adapts to the balloon. Consuming a liquid diet can help alleviate the cramps. If you experience sensations of fullness, bloating, or retching, lying on your left side and gently massaging your abdomen upward beneath your ribs can aid in repositioning the gastric balloon. In cases of severe pain and cramping, medication can be prescribed to alleviate discomfort.