What is it?
Gastric balloon weight loss procedures have been used worldwide for more than 20 years to help individuals “jump-start” weight loss and healthier eating habits. By taking up space in the stomach, saline or air filled silicone balloons are placed in the stomach either endoscopically (an outpatient procedure that uses a flexible tube to place the balloon into the stomach by going in through the mouth and down the esophagus (feeding tube) into the stomach) or through swallowing a deflated balloon contained in a dissolvable capsule.
How does it work?
The gastric balloon(s) take up space in the stomach, thereby reducing the amount of food one can eat at a time. It creates a sensation of fullness which helps decrease the sense of hunger that often leads people to overeat. Individuals then learn to eat smaller, healthier portions which fosters healthier eating habits. Weight loss is accelerated during the first 6 months and then the balloon is removed. Individuals maintain their weight or continue to lose excess weight with their new, learned eating habits.
Who is it for?
Gastric balloon procedures are ideal for those with BMIs of around 30-40 who are looking for help jump-starting weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. They are also great for those looking for a temporary “leg up” who are not interested in permanent surgical alterations of their digestive organs. Also, most insurances do not cover the cost of other weight loss surgeries for those with BMIs less than 40, and the cost of gastric balloon procedures are much less than other weight loss surgeries.
How much weight can one lose?
On average, individuals lose about 30% of their excess weight during the 6 months that the balloon is in place, typically 3x the amount lost through diet and exercise alone.
How much does it cost?
Average cost in the U.S. is $6,000 to $9,000 for the procedure. Insurances do not yet cover gastric balloon procedures, but they are one of the more affordable options for those who have to pay out of pocket.