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Gastric Balloon Vs Gastric Band

Gastric balloon or gastric band – which one should you choose? Both the gastric balloon and gastric band are weight loss procedures that can be life-changing. They can both deliver excellent weight loss results, and the improvements to health and quality of life that weight loss brings, for those patients that have found it so difficult to manage their weight through diets alone. But which one should you choose for you, a gastric balloon or gastric band? We try and detail a few of the key differences below:

Non-surgical gastric balloon or surgical gastric band

The gastric balloon is placed via a tube through the mouth in a 15 minute procedure in an endoscopy suite. You are given sedation to relieve discomfort. Done as a day case, you’ll be in hospital for about 4 hours.

There are no incisions so no wounds, no scars and no general anaesthetic. The balloon floats freely in the stomach and is not internally stitched so no change to your stomach anatomy. The risk and recovery is therefore minimal.

The gastric band is a surgical procedure that takes about 1 hour in a surgical theatre. Done under general anaesthetic, usually as a day case, you’ll be in hospital for about 8 hours.

4 or 5 surgical incisions are made in the abdomen for the laparoscopic tools and to place the band. This will leave small scars. The band is stitched around the top of the stomach to create a small stomach pouch.

Temporary or permanent

The gastric balloon is a temporary procedure, removed after 6 or 12 months with no permanent change to your anatomy. You use the time that the balloon is in to work with the aftercare team to make the changes to your eating and lifestyle habits you need for success. Once removed, you will need to continue with these changes to maintain your results.

The gastric band is a permanent procedure with a physical change to the anatomy of your stomach that is intended for life. You will need to return to the clinic for regular adjustments of the band’s ‘inflation’ where the practitioner introduces a needle through the abdomen into the ‘port’ to add or remove saline.

Eating and drinking

The gastric balloon works as a portion control tool and to get the best results from it, you will need to make some changes to your eating habits, both in reducing your portion sizes and in the types of foods that you choose. The balloon does not, however, stop you eating so you can continue with your normal day to day activities. You just need to be more mindful of the choices you make.

The gastric band works by creating a small stomach pouch, about the size of a golf ball. This reduces the amount you can eat to about 6 tablespoons. For some patients, this dramatic reduction is what they need but for many, they do not want such a permanent alteration to their relationship with food.

Side effects and risks

The gastric balloon is a safe-non-surgical procedure but there are some immediate side effects of the procedure to consider. Whilst the body gets used to the balloon, you are likely to have a few days of nausea and vomiting. Some patients also experience stomach cramps.

The long-term complication for the gastric balloon is rupture. A blue dye is added to the saline in the balloon so that if this were to happen, you would be alerted and the balloon would be removed. At Gastric Balloon Group we offer a warranty to cover the risk of rupture.

The gastric band is the safest of the surgical options but as with any surgery, there are risks of wound infection and anaesthetic complications. The immediate post-procedure side effects are general wound pain, shoulder tip pain caused by trapped air and retching.

There are also specific long-term complications related to the band such as slippage and erosion, both of which would require surgical removal of the device.

There are other differences to consider between the band and balloon but these are the factors we know patients are most concerned about. Ultimately which procedure you choose will be a very personal decision, based on whether your preference tween a permanent surgical procedure with higher risks and costs versus a temporary non-surgical procedure with fewer risks and costs.