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Everything you need to know about the intragastric balloon

Within the different approaches to fight obesity and overweight, we have the ball gastric or intragastric. You may be for or against this method but it is one more option to consider in the wide world of weight reduction.

The use of the intragastric balloon is not perpetual, so it is not a definitive solution or magic to obesity and requires a nutritional reeducation, in fact, it is useless if we do not learn to eat well. Let’s take a look at all there is to know about the intragastric balloon.

What is the function of the gastric balloon?

The intragastric balloon has the task of reducing the volume of the stomach. This way, when we eat the sensation of satiety appears before and, therefore, we limit the amount of food that we consume to the day. This undoubtedly facilitates the weight loss process.

Taking into account that most cases of obesity are due to overfeeding, that a person does not feel that feeling of wanting to continue eating because it is satiated, it is an important aid to reduce weight. Therefore, the intragastric balloon will be responsible for producing an early satiety.

For whom is it indicated?

Evidently, for people with weight problems. But it is not a matter of a few kilos, but that there is obvious overweight or obesity and that the patient is more than normal to lose weight or recover soon lost weight.

It is also recommended in people in whom a weight gain poses a high risk for health, such as heart risk or development of metabolic diseases. It is also useful for people whose excess weight is a problem when putting them in the operating room to practice any aggressive operation.

It is indicated in difficult cases of obesity or when there may be cardiac or metabolic complications derived from that obesity.

In any case, it should be a medical specialist who values ​​the use of the intragastric balloon as beneficial to the patient. Therefore, it is not a method to lose weight that can be used by anyone at will. In addition, it requires a commitment of nutritional reeducation, with a multidisciplinary follow-up.

How is the intragastric balloon placed?

Placing the intragastric balloon is a safe and rapid intervention.

Once the doctor has verified with the gastroscope that there are no anomalies in the stomach, the patient is sedated and the intragastric balloon is introduced deflated to the stomach by endoscopy . Once in the stomach, it is filled with saline serum and its valve is sealed. Depending on the weight and height of the patient, the balloon swells more or less, but usually occupies between 40 and 50% of the total volume of the stomach.

Placement of the balloon, therefore, is a fairly safe intervention and lasts about 20-30 minutes, requiring no hospitalization. For the withdrawal of the balloon, the intervention is similar but in reverse: the ball is pricked and taken out of the stomach by endoscopy.

At present there are intragastric swallowable balls, where it is not necessary or do the endoscopy to place them: swallows a capsule attached to a thread and, once in the stomach, swells.

How long does the treatment last and how much weight can I lose?

The ball is prepared to last about 8-9 months inside the stomach, although safety margin are usually leave about 6-7 months . There are also balls that can last for a full year.

One can lose up to a kilo per week with this method, although it depends on many factors and, over time, the organism no longer responds in the same way to the satiation senacity. The success of this method is to maintain the healthy habits acquired during treatment once the ball is removed.

Possible intragastric balloon complications

Although complications that may occur are minimal, they are related to the implantation or withdrawal of the balloon. As for implantation, the complications may be due to sedation or difficulties in doing the endoscopy. Although, as we say, cases are very rare and there is usually no problem if proper instruments are used.

As for withdrawal, if the patient has not followed some basic recommendations from the doctor the days before, it may accumulate fiber around the balloon and make it difficult to extract, and should even postpone the extraction.

Complications of the intragastric balloon are minimal.

Once the balloon is implanted, some of the side effects that may appear but are transient are nausea and, occasionally, vomiting in the first 24-48 hours.

Other uncommon complications may be due to irritation of the stomach mucosa or gastritis, ulcers or perforations . Complications that if medical follow-up are usually identified quickly and do not reach serious complications.

If the procedure of placement and removal is normal and the materials used and professionals are suitable, complications of the intragastric balloon are minimal.

It is useless if there is no nutritional reeducation

It is necessary and fundamental a multidisciplinary team when putting an intragastric balloon: doctor, dietitian and psychologist. There is no sense in this aid to lose weight if we do not take advantage of it to learn to eat better and change habits to then maintain the weight lost.

If after the intragastric balloon we continue with our previous life (supernatural and sedentary) and we do not change habits, it is “bread for today and hungry for tomorrow”, because in a few months we will return to the starting box and this treatment will not have made sense.

Our opinion on the intragastric balloon

As we have said before, it should be a medical specialist who values ​​the use of this treatment against obesity. From the outside, you can see the intragastric balloon as a shortcut to lose weight and, in fact, it is, but it is a shortcut that many people need to be aware that they can lose weight and motivate themselves to change habits.

Can we get the same results if we diet and exercise? In my opinion yes, although it may take longer. The problem here is the motivation of the person, who can abandon a dietary treatment if he does not see fast results and with the intragastric balloon these results are very noticeable, especially in the first weeks.

The intragastric balloon is a shortcut to lose weight, but a necessary shortcut in some people.

If a person is very conscious about losing weight, he will not need an intragastric balloon, only professional help to redirect his diet and daily habits . However, if that overweight is a serious health problem or the person is unable or very unmotivated, the ball may be an option to evaluate.

But in no case should the intragastric balloon be taken as a rapid means of weight loss without the intention of changing habits, because its effects will be very long term and we will soon return to the initial state of obesity.


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