If you want to undergo minimally invasive bariatric surgery for weight loss, the gastric balloon could be the ultimate choice. The gastric balloon also called an intragastric balloon, is a popular non-invasive technique to lose weight.

In the gastric balloon procedure, the balloon would be inflated inside the stomach to decrease the capacity of the stomach temporarily to induce rapid weight loss. The procedure aims to strike a fine balance between a major invasive bariatric surgery and a regular diet + exercise routine. When combined with a structured weight loss program and some lifestyle modifications, the gastric balloon can give fantastic results to patients.

There are 4 different types of gastric balloon methods available in Mexico:

  • ORBERA: This is the most trusted procedure available worldwide. The system gives time to patients to make changes to their eating and lifestyle habits so that when the balloon is removed people do not change their habits. Healthy practices become a part of their lifestyle. With this procedure, patients can lose up to 12% of their body weight within 6 months and continue to lose weight thereafter with healthier practices. However, results are likely to vary.
  • Spatz3: This is the only adjustable balloon that can even be altered after the first three months of the procedure. This is a non-surgical and dual system, proven to boost weight loss throughout its placement. During the 6 months, patients continue to lose weight. This balloon can be kept inside the stomach for at least 12 months.
  • ReShape Duo: This is a relatively new device that works as a complete program for weight loss. Although it is not a cure for obesity, it stimulates weight loss. This non-surgical treatment increases the restriction while decreasing stomach capacity. As a result, patients can lose weight within 6 months.
  • Obalon: Obalon Balloon is an even newer system that improves the weight loss of patients compared to others. Once swallowed, the device starts inflating inside and stays there for another 3 months before it is removed. The unique thing about this balloon is that it is pill-shaped and at least 3 such balloons are inserted at one time to get maximum results. It is removed within 6 months.

How is Gastric Balloon Surgery performed?

In the gastric balloon procedure, a silicone balloon is placed inside the patient’s stomach endoscopically. So, the gastric balloon is placed non-surgically, thus reducing hospital stay and postoperative complications. This intervention lasts for approximately 30 minutes with minimum recovery time.

The procedure begins with the inspection of the stomach internally under anesthesia. Thereafter, the balloon would be deflated and inserted into the stomach using a catheter and a wire for guidance. The wire is finally removed, and a solution of saline is injected into the balloon. With this, the balloon would be inflated, and your surgeon disconnects the catheter. After six months, the balloon would be deflated and removed endoscopically.

The intragastric balloon stays inside the stomach for at least 6 months, thus restricting the space for all the foods eaten. Therefore, patients start feeling fuller as a result of eating fewer calories and lesser food.

With this bariatric procedure, patients are expected to lose up to 30% of their excess body weight within six months. As a result, it improves health, especially for diabetic patients and patients with cardiac pathologies and musculoskeletal diseases.

How does Gastric Balloon surgery work?

In about 30 minutes, the entire gastric balloon procedure is completed without anesthesia. The balloon stays in place for a maximum of 6 months. Placing the balloon involves the insertion of a deflated balloon made of silicone, through the patient’s mouth, right inside the stomach. It is, then, inflated with gas/air or saline solution of at least 500ml volume. The stomach, on average, can hold up to a 1500ml volume of air, gas, or liquid, ensuring that the stomach capacity is only two-thirds of its actual volume.

Gastric balloon surgery restricts the capacity of the stomach. The inflated silicone balloon restricts food and creates a fuller feeling, just like gastric banding or gastric sleeve. When the stomach capacity reduces, your calorie intake is reduced.

With the silicone balloon inserted into the stomach, overeating becomes extremely uncomfortable. Ultimately, this helps in leading a healthier life, developing good habits, and improved portion control.  It further delays hunger hormone discharge, thus making patients develop a satisfying feeling and a sense of fullness for long. 

History and Trend of the Gastric Balloon

The intragastric balloon surgery was developed in 1985. The Food and Drugs Administration approved this procedure as a weight loss and management tool. However, in 1988, the procedure was discontinued and in 1992 the approval was again withdrawn due to significant complications as well as insufficient weight loss.

How much weight will I lose after the Gastric Balloon?

The gastric balloon is designed for those individuals with a low BMI (Body Mass Index). Compared to other bariatric surgery alternatives available today, patients may not lose a significant amount of excess weight. Surgeons say that patients can lose up to 47 percent of their excess body weight within 6 months after gastric balloon surgery.

So, if a patient weighs 400 pounds, and the goal weight stands at 150 pounds, the excess weight to lose would be 250 pounds.

In 6 months, a patient can lose up to 10 percent of their total excess body weight. Gastric balloon gives a wide-ranging result, with patients experiencing minimal loss of weight whereas other patients may see a drastic and rapid weight loss.

Besides the total amount of excess weight a person loses, the intragastric balloon also differs from the other alternative bariatric procedures in many ways. One of the most important facts about gastric balloon surgery is that it does not change the anatomy permanently. The balloon that is placed inside the stomach can be removed after 6 months. This temporary balloon does not result in temporary loss of weight.

A significant and successful component of the gastric balloon is the support and medical guidance it offers to patients. With that, patients can make permanent changes in their lifestyle habits. The 6-month period is not only for weight loss but also for education. Experts involved during this period coach patients in their dietary, exercise, and lifestyle programs, while still losing weight. Once the balloon has been removed after 6 months, most patients turn their lessons into lifetime habits.

Improvement of Obesity-Related Health Problems

Gastric balloon surgery gives plenty of time to a patient to make changes to their eating and lifestyle habits. Once the balloon is removed, patients should make an effort to maintain their lifestyle.

The gastric balloon is a non-surgical procedure with a low BMI requirement. In addition, it is the only option for weight loss with cosmetic reasons, besides health reasons. Another major benefit of the procedure is that it requires very little time to recover.

Just like other methods of weight loss, a gastric balloon may also improve and resolve several health problems related to obesity, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea
  • High cholesterol

Eligibility and Candidacy in Mexico

Gastric balloon procedure may be the best option for a patient with:

  • Body Mass Index between 30 to 40
  • Commitment to a healthy lifestyle
  • Commitment to undergo regular follow-up and take part in behavioral therapy
  • Who did not have an esophageal or stomach surgery in the past

The intragastric balloon may not be the best option for everyone wanting to lose weight. The screening process helps the surgeon understand if this procedure is likely to benefit.

Recovery after Surgery

Once the gastric balloon is successfully placed inside the stomach, and you are clear for release, you can go home with a caretaker. However, patients cleared for an early release should spend at least 24 hours with a trusted company.

People traveling to Mexico from another country can stay at a nearby facility.

As the procedure is done endoscopically, the throat may feel sore, there may be nausea and a fuller feeling inside the abdomen. Patients, generally, can return to their work and have a normal life in 3 days.

Patients are placed on a 14-days transition diet that allows them to adjust to the new food habits. During these days, they are given clear liquids only, which includes dense soups, fruit juices (natural), and yogurt, for 7 days. Thereafter, patients must follow a pureed diet before transitioning to solids once again. 

Complications and Risks

Intragastric balloon surgery is a relatively safer procedure with minimum risks. However, just like other medical treatments, there may be some complications:

  • Excess Inflation: If the gastric balloon is filled with excess saline, it can cause abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, and stomach swelling. These symptoms occur within a week of the procedure. When the balloon is removed, these complications should be addressed.
  • Anesthesia: On some rare occasions, patients may develop adverse reactions to anesthesia.
  • Esophagus Puncture: Just like other endoscopic procedures, there is some risk of esophageal puncture. This happens because of the instrument. However, it is very rare.
  • Stomach Blockage: In rare cases, the balloon could also rupture and deflate to block the healthy digestive tube. The balloon is filled with a dye that changes the color of urine once deflated. Patients should immediately contact the doctor.
  • Ulcer: Your doctor may prescribe medication to cure ulcers. Patients must take this medication as long as they have the balloon inside the stomach. Ulcers occur as the balloon rubs against the mucous of their stomach constantly.

Diet after Gastric Balloon Surgery

After the gastric balloon is inserted, patients must be on a strict fluid diet. At least 3 days, patients must consume only fluids. Thereafter, patients can graduate to a soft food diet.

0-3 days

The fluid regime continues for at least 3 days. Patients should drink at least 8 cups of fluids daily, taking regular sips. It is very important to drink small quantities of liquid regularly. Patients can choose from different types of liquids such as semi-skimmed milk, reduced sugar or low-calorie squash, diluted sugar-less fruit juices, herbal teas, chicken broths, or clear beef soups.

At this stage, patients should not eat any solid foods. Though you may not have an appetite immediately after the surgery, it will eventually return.

Day 4 to 7

Patients can start eating semi-solid or soft foods like porridge, yogurt, mashed potatoes, and thicker soups. However, portions should be small. Using a smaller plate can help.

Remember to sip eight cups of low-calorie and caffeine-free liquids during the day, between meals, to stay hydrated.  However, avoid drinking at mealtimes.

Day 10 and beyond

By this day, patients’ appetite should return to normal and they should be able to resume a healthy life incorporating wholesome meals in smaller portions. Maintain a caloric intake of 1000 to 1200 Kcal a day as long as the balloon is inside the stomach. It takes some time to get used to a lower-calorie diet, but don’t give up.

The bariatric team also encourages patients to exercise regularly. Engaging in regular physical activities can help with weight loss.

Patients should eat at least 5 to 6 small meals all through the day. Begin with 1 to 2 tablespoons of meals and increase the quantity gradually. Patients going through the stage of pureed foods may even feel that their portion size is gradually increasing. Do remember to stop eating at the slightest feeling of fullness or discomfort. Eating too much may lead to nausea, vomiting, and pain.

Foods Less Tolerated

Some types of foods may not be tolerated well after a gastric balloon. It will be best to avoid such foods. Although everyone has a different level of tolerance, some common culprits still exist. High fibrous foods, for example, are difficult to tolerate. Likewise, soft bread, overcooked pasta or rice, pastry, cream, cheese, pies, hard fruits and vegetables, pips, lettuce skin, coffee, strong-flavored foods, and alcohol.

Comparison of Gastric Balloon to other Types of Bariatric Procedures

The gastric balloon is the only non-invasive procedure. All the other bariatric procedures are invasive surgeries with some risks and complications. The alternatives include gastric sleeve surgery, gastric bypass surgery, and mini-gastric bypass surgery.

With surgical intervention, weight loss is achieved by limiting the quantity of food stored in the stomach.

A gastric sleeve is an advanced technique that reduces the size of the stomach by up to 75%, leaving a banana-sized sleeve inside the stomach. In 5 years, patients can expect up to 75% weight loss.

Gastric Bypass or Roux-en-Y is another bariatric procedure that creates a small pouch inside the stomach, dividing the upper part of the patient’s stomach from the lower part. The small intestine is also involved as the upper part is then divided whereas the lower part would be connected to the pouch that is created.

Mini gastric bypass surgery is a minimally invasive procedure and an alternative to gastric bypass. This bariatric procedure can boost weight loss goals and help a patient get back to a normal BMI within 12 months.

Gastric balloon, on the other hand, is not an invasive procedure. It is performed endoscopically to reduce hunger, which controls portion sizes. The gastric balloon is a stepping stone to achieve weight loss.

Advantage of Gastric Sleeve versus Gastric Balloon Surgery

While gastric sleeve surgery is an invasive procedure, the gastric balloon is not.

Patients undergoing gastric sleeves have to stay back in the hospital for at least 3 days, whereas patients undergoing gastric balloons can get back on the same day.

Gastric sleeve surgery can cause many complications like infections, swelling, nausea, and vomiting, ulcers, etc. Gastric balloon rarely causes any side effects or complications.

While gastric sleeve surgery lasts for 10 years and then requires a revision, the gastric balloon should be removed within 6 months.

Risks, Side Effects, & Challenges

Patients who have medical risks associated with their bowels and intestines, esophageal injuries or complications, and related issues, should avoid gastric balloon surgery. The procedure may cause cramping, nausea, discomfort, vomiting, and gastroesophageal reflux or acid reflux right after the placement. In addition, there is a risk of a deflated balloon inside the patient’s stomach, which could cause obstruction.

Cost of Gastric Balloon: Insurance Coverage Vs. “Self Pay”

Many people believe that gastric balloon surgery is more expensive than other bariatric surgery techniques. However, that is not the case.

In Mexico, the starting price of a gastric balloon is $3695.

This procedure, however, is not covered by any medical insurance. It does not require hospitalization so you have to pay it from your pocket. You can also take a self-pay or finance to get the surgery.

Now, there are different types of gastric balloons. There is ORBERA, Spatz3, ReShape Duo Balloon, and Obalon Balloon System. Depending on the option you choose, patients are given the related cost of the procedure and other details.

The cost of gastric balloon procedure is all-inclusive of ground transportation (private), 1 night stay at an accredited hospital ICU, state-of-the-art medical equipment, pre-operative and post-operative nutrition program, 4.5-star hotel stay for 1 night, 24/7 surgical team with nursing staff, etc.

Surgery Preparation & Recovery

When you are going for a gastric balloon procedure, the surgeon and team would give you some specific instructions and preparatory ideas. You have to undergo some lab tests and some examinations before the procedure.

You would also have to restrict your food and drink for at least 12 hours before the procedure, which includes medications. The team may also ask you to start the activity program before the procedure.

Recovery does not take much time as this is a non-invasive procedure. The idea is to create a fuller feeling that normally lasts long even after having your meals. One of the primary reasons is that the intragastric balloon takes some time to empty the patient’s stomach. Moreover, the balloon also changes the hormone levels controlling the appetite.

The amount of weight a patient can lose with a gastric balloon depends entirely on lifestyle changes, like diet and routine exercise. The treatment options available at present reveal that a person can lose anywhere between 7% and 15% of their excess body weight within 6 months after the silicone balloon is placed inside the stomach. In total, a person can lose between 30% and 47% of their excess body weight.

Find a Surgeon

You can find a gastric balloon surgeon in Mexico through Google search or word-of-mouth. If you have relatives or friends who underwent this procedure, contact them for more details. You can also come across many facilities and hospitals online. Raise your query, contact them, and get all the information necessary for the procedure.

Advantages of Gastric Balloon in Mexico

There are many benefits of gastric balloon surgery in Mexico.

  • Non-invasive: The greatest advantage of the gastric balloon is that it is a non-invasive surgery. As a result, it is less painful with a faster recovery time.
  • Removable and Restrictive: Gastric balloon remains inside the stomach for only 6 months, which makes it a removable procedure.
  • Less Expensive: Gastric balloon is also an affordable alternative in Mexico compared to all the other procedures.
  • Weight Loss in Real Time: Patients can lose a lot of weight due to the restrictive nature of the balloon.
  • Higher Eligibility: Since the gastric balloon does not focus much on BMI, the eligibility rate of patients is relatively higher.

Differences of Having Gastric Balloon in Mexico

Patients chose to undergo bariatric procedures in Mexico as there are many advantages.

  • Firstly, it can save as much as 65% of your money compared to America, Canada, or any other country. Bariatric packages are relatively affordable in Mexico, which draws a huge crowd to the country from all four corners of the world. Moreover, there are top surgeons available to perform these procedures. Patients coming to Mexico feel safe as the rate of success of weight loss treatment is also very high.
  • In Mexico, you can find some of the most experienced board-certified surgeons performing bariatric procedures.
  • You can get the best result with FDA-approved gastric balloon treatments here in Mexico.
  • Doctors have a specialized team looking after patients, their dietary needs, and exercise routine both before and after the procedure.

In America, the gastric balloon could cost $7000 and above. Moreover, it is not covered by insurance or medical plans. So, patients have to pay out of their pockets or manage medical aid and finance with a higher rate of interest. However, in Mexico, the cost of a gastric balloon is almost half of the cost in America with excellent care and facilities, all-inclusive.

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