A gastric balloon is a medical device that is placed in an individual’s stomach to help them lose weight. These balloons have been used for years in other parts of the world but in recent years, they have gained popularity here in the United States.
Gastric balloons, like the Orbera, are an excellent option for individuals who have a significant amount of weight to lose but do not qualify for or do not wish to undergo a surgical weight loss procedure.
Placing the balloon in the patient’s stomach is an in-office procedure that only takes about 20 minutes to complete. Even though placing and removing the balloon does not require surgery, it is done while the individual is under light sedation and involves the stomach. This means that there are some dietary restrictions and gastric balloon diet plans that patients must follow both before the placement and for a few weeks after the balloon is installed.
Today, we are going to talk about weight loss balloons, a bit about how they work, the gastric balloon pre-op diet restrictions, as well as the diet after gastric balloon removal.
What Is The Purpose Of A Weight Loss Balloon?
A weight loss balloon is only placed in the patient’s stomach temporarily and is meant to be used as a tool and a learning aid to teach the patient portion control, how to recognize the signs of satiety, the importance of nutrition, and the benefits of making healthier lifestyle choices, which include a healthy diet and adequate physical activity.
A weight loss balloon is not a magic wand, and it will not lead to sustainable weight loss unless the patient does their part and continues to consume a healthy low-calorie diet after the gastric balloon is removed.
How Does A Weight Loss Balloon Help People Lose Weight?
The balloon works for weight loss in a few different ways.
- Helps curb their appetite and teaches portion control.
- Helps them trade unhealthy habits for habits that improve their health and wellbeing.
The balloon takes up a significant amount of space in the patient’s stomach, so they are only able to eat very small portions during meals, and the smaller stomach capacity helps them stay feeling full for a longer period of time.
In the grand scheme of things, the main goals of a weight loss balloon program are to teach patients to recognize the feeling of being satisfied to stop eating (portion control) and to help convert their unhealthy behavior patterns into lifelong healthy lifestyle habits.
As their mindset changes, they will experience the benefits of modifying their current behaviors. Moving from unhealthy processed foods to healthier, nutritious whole foods is one example of changed behavior, as is implementing other positive lifestyle changes such as drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, and engaging in daily physical exercise. These healthy lifestyle habits can help them achieve and maintain a healthy weight over the long term.
How Does The Balloon Get Into The Patient’s Stomach?
The deflated balloon is placed in a strategic location in the patient’s stomach using an endoscope and does not require surgery or a hospital stay.
An endoscope is a long, thin, hollow medical tool that has a light and a camera on one end and is lowered down through the patient’s mouth and into their stomach. The hollow design allows the surgeon to also insert other tools needed during the procedure. Once the balloon is in the correct spot, the doctor fills it with a sterile saline solution until it takes up roughly about ¾ of the usable stomach capacity. The endoscope is removed, and the patient is released to go home after a short observation period. The entire procedure only takes around 20 to 30 minutes.
The balloon remains in the stomach for 6 months, and then it is removed through a similar endoscopic procedure. During the following six months, the patient is to continue to follow their supervised program so their new lifestyle choices will become habits that last a lifetime.
How Do You Prepare For The Placement Of A Weight Loss Balloon?
The balloon is placed into the stomach while the patient is under a mild sedative, and it is important that there be no solid food left in the stomach before the procedure is done.
Patients must follow a simple gastric balloon pre-op diet according to the directions provided to them by their doctor. Normally it looks something like this:
Gastric Balloon Pre-Op Diet – Before Balloon Insertion
|Time Before Balloon Insertion||What To Expect|
|2 weeks before||The patient begins taking 40mg of Prilosec once a day and continues until the balloon is removed.|
|72 hrs before||Patient starts on a soft food diet with no meat or vegetables Soft foods such as eggs or egg substitutes (scrambled, boiled, fried, egg salad, etc.) milk, protein shakes, yogurt, soft cheeses like cottage cheese, and string cheese, canned fruits packed in water, applesauce, sugar-free pudding, peanut butter with no added sugar, etc|
|48 hrs before||Only Full liquids such as Milk, protein shakes, sugar-free pudding, thicker soups with no lumps such as tomato soup, pureed smoothies, etc|
|24 hrs before||Clear liquids only like broth that has been strained of any lumps or pieces can be flavored beef, chicken, or vegetable, water, sugar-free flavored drinks, Propel, Gatorade Zero, sugar-free popsicles, sugar-free jello, black coffee or tea with no sugar (you can use a sugar substitute)|
|8-12 hrs before||No foods or liquids by mouth after this point. This is the standard nothing after midnight rule before having any type of procedure. No food or water. If you require medication every morning, speak to your doctor for further instructions.|
The first few minutes before the balloon is inserted, the doctor will take a quick look at that pathway to the stomach from the inside using the tiny endoscopic camera to check for any possible issues with inserting the balloon. If all is clear, they will proceed with placing the balloon.
What Happens Immediately After Balloon Placement?
After the balloon is inserted, the patient will be observed for a few hours and then discharged into the care of a friend or family member who will drive them home.
The week following the placement of the balloon, all patients experienced some degree of discomfort. Most report nausea and vomiting within the first seven days after the balloon placement. These are normal side effects and the doctor will prescribe medication to help manage these symptoms and ease discomfort during this time.
After placement of the balloon, the stomach needs some time to get acclimated to its new roommate so patients must follow a special diet after the gastric balloon is placed. If solid food is reintroduced too quickly, patients may experience unpleasant side effects including nausea and vomiting.
Diet Post Gastric Balloon
|Time After Balloon Insertion||Post-Op Diet|
Only clear liquids
Avoid the following:
Full liquids & purees
Avoid the following items
|Day 21 and beyond|
Once the stomach can tolerate soft foods patients choose food selections such as the examples listed and use these guidelines for about two weeks.
Each patient is different, and some may need a longer time in one phase before going on to the next. If you are working your way through the gastric balloon post-op diet, take it slow and go at your own speed. Listen to your body and do not try to rush to the next stage until you are ready.
Balloon Removal Diet and Procedure
The balloon removal diet only lasts two days and removes all solid foods from your diet. This is necessary because precautions need to be taken to ensure that there is no solid food in your stomach that could cause aspiration into your lungs during removal. Your balloon removal may be rescheduled if there is any doubt about whether your stomach is empty. Often, the doctor will prescribe Reglan (metoclopramide) 48 hours before your balloon removal to help prevent stomach acid-related issues during removal.
- 48 hours before the balloon removal, stop all solid foods and consume liquids only. It is beneficial to take numerous sips of Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, or Coke Zero during this time. The carbonation in diet soda aids in cleaning the balloon and moving solid food out of the stomach.
- 8–12 hours before the balloon removal: no eating or drinking at all (the nothing after midnight rule).
The process of removing the weight loss balloon is similar to its insertion but done in reverse. Using the endoscope, the doctor will first drain the sterile saline from the balloon through a tube that will be placed down the endoscope, and then they will remove the deflated balloon. The patient will stay for a short observation period and then be released to be driven home by a friend or family member.
Diet After Gastric Balloon Removal
To lose weight and maintain that loss, you must make permanent adjustments to your eating habits. The balloon will limit the amount of food consumed. The most crucial aspect of gastric balloon surgery is altering your diet and lifestyle for six months while the balloon is in place and ultimately making these changes permanent.
Your support team will assist you in developing new habits so that when the balloon is removed, your lifestyle changes will already have a solid foundation on which to build in the long run. Make sure you utilize the support you have available to you, especially the dietician. This is a resource you can use throughout your entire weight loss journey that will play a vital role in helping you learn about nutrition, healthy eating habits, portion control, and menu planning.
After the balloon is removed, you will need to be mindful to consume smaller portions and continue making the choices you made when the balloon was present. You will recognize the signs of hunger and fullness so that you can stop eating before you overeat. As you lose weight, you can increase your physical activity, which will help promote further weight loss and help you maintain a healthy weight.
If you are interested in learning more about a gastric weight loss balloon or a gastric balloon diet plan, contact Simmons MD Advanced Weight Loss Solutions. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the Orbera weight-loss balloon program we offer.
Clinical studies showed that patients who used the Orbera balloon to help them lose weight lost three times as much weight as they would have been able to through diet and exercise alone. Set up an appointment to learn more today!