15 May, 2024

Is a Bariatric Balloon Considered Surgery?

If you have tried other forms of weight loss that have proved ineffective, a bariatric balloon can be a helpful tool to assist you with shedding some extra pounds. Losing weight and reducing your body mass index (BMI) will greatly decrease your chances of suffering from serious health issues related to being overweight, including:

  • Many different types of cancer;
  • Coronary disease;
  • Stroke;
  • Hypertension;
  • Cholesterol level issues;
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease;
  • Severe sleep apnea;
  • Type 2 diabetes;
  • Joint and Mobility Issues.

Will A Bariatric Balloon Work For Anyone?

A bariatric balloon will not be a suitable solution for everyone. For instance, if you have had previous stomach or esophageal surgery, are pregnant, or are unwilling to take part in a year-long doctor-supervised weight loss program, a bariatric balloon would not be a good fit for your circumstances.

Qualifying candidates would be in good health, have a BMI of 27 or over, have no history of surgeries that would disqualify them, and be emotionally ready and willing to commit to making lifestyle changes that will promote weight loss and improve their health. Medical insurance plans do not currently cover bariatric balloons, so candidates should also be prepared and able to meet the financial obligations of the procedure.

A consultation with a qualified gastroenterologist who specializes in endoscopic weight loss procedures can help determine if a bariatric balloon would be a good choice for you.

Is A Bariatric Balloon Surgery?

No, using the phrase “bariatric balloon surgery” is incorrect because placing the balloon does not involve incisions and is not a surgical procedure. The procedure is done as an outpatient while you are under light sedation and only takes about 20 minutes. The bariatric balloon procedure involves the following steps:

  1. You are put under mild sedation;
  2. A gastroenterologist with specialized training will carefully lower a medical device called an endoscope down through your mouth and throat into your stomach. The endoscope looks like a skinny, hollow hose that is easy to manipulate that is outfitted with a light and a tiny video camera. The doctor can easily navigate and perform the procedure with precision because they are guided by live-streaming video provided by the camera;
  3. A deflated bariatric balloon that has a long, thin catheter attached to it is lowered down into your stomach through the hollow center of the endoscope;
  4. Once it is in the right spot, the doctor uses the catheter to fill the balloon with sterile saline until it reaches around 5” in diameter;
  5. The catheter is detached from the balloon, and the endoscope is removed from your throat;
  6. You will spend some time in an observation room and then be discharged into the hands of your caregiver to go home and begin your short recovery.

The balloon will be removed after six months using a very similar procedure.

How Do The Risks And Recovery Compare: Balloon vs Bariatric Surgery?

Placing a bariatric balloon is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require making any incisions, unlike the invasive nature of bariatric surgery, which involves abdominal incisions and alteration of the patient’s digestive system.

Both the bariatric balloon and bariatric surgery carry risks, but surgery has a higher risk profile with increased possibilities of complications and long-term side effects. Bariatric balloons can cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach discomfort. In rare cases, more serious side effects can occur due to balloon deflation or migration. Bariatric surgery risks include excessive bleeding, infection, blood clots, leaking from connection points, nutritional deficiencies, dumping syndrome, and more.

Recovery after the insertion of a bariatric balloon typically takes between three days and a week, while recovering from a surgical bariatric procedure averages between four and six weeks.

Resuming a normal diet after both the balloon and the surgery will take some time. Your stomach needs to get used to its new reduced capacity and the changes that were made to your digestive system if you underwent surgery. You will have to introduce solid foods back into your diet on a gradual basis, beginning with clear liquids first. This re-acclimation process can take several months after bariatric surgery, while it only takes a few weeks after the placement of a bariatric balloon.

How Much Weight Can I Lose With A Bariatric Balloon?

The amount of weight you can lose using a bariatric balloon depends a great deal on how diligent you are in making changes that will promote weight loss in your lifestyle and being consistent in following them.

The average patient loses between 15% and 20% of their total body weight during the six months the balloon remains in their stomach.

Where Can I Find A Qualified Gastroenterologist For A Bariatric Balloon?

If you would like to learn more about a bariatric balloon procedure and how it can help you lose weight, contact Simmons MD Advanced Weight Loss Solutions. Dr. Okeefe Simmons has extensive experience in performing endoscopic procedures, including placing and removing bariatric balloons.

Our skilled and knowledgeable support team is ready to provide you with all the tools and strategies you need to reach your weight loss goals and improve your health. Set up an appointment with Simmons MD Advanced Weight Loss Solutions today to learn more about losing weight without surgery.

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