About Gastric Balloons
Gastric balloons have been in use since the 1980’s when they were first developed to combat obesity. By creating a feeling of fullness in the belly, the balloon helped people to eat less and thus lose weight. Although these early attempts were abandoned due to inefficacy, scientists continued to refine the gastric balloon technology and treatment plan, eliminating complications and building a body of successful case studies. In August of 2015, the FDA approved the new Orbera and Reshape gastric balloons as part of a comprehensive weight loss regimen.
This has opened up an exciting new avenue for many patients who, until now, could only choose between controlling their weight with diet and exercise, or undergoing a more invasive, complex treatment such as bariatric surgery. The gastric balloon is a stepping stone procedure, allowing clients to benefit from non-surgical placement of a stomach balloon for six months as they work with a medical team to adopt a healthier lifestyle. With obesity on the rise in the United States, the gastric balloon is a timely and much-welcomed solution.
How does gastric balloon treatment work?
With the help of an endoscope – a tiny, tubular camera that projects images onto a monitor – the spherical gastric balloon is tunneled through the mouth and down the throat to the stomach, where it is then filled with saline. The Orbera balloon is a single bubble, while the Reshape treatment involves the dual action of two saline bubbles. In both procedures, the stomach balloon acts as a deterrent to overeating, gradually recalibrating a client’s hunger and reducing caloric intake. After six months, the saline balloon is deflated and removed, leaving the client to now rely on their recent lifestyle changes for long term weight loss maintenance.
Who is a good candidate for the procedure?
The ideal gastric balloon client:
- is at least 18 years of age
- has a BMI of 30-40
- is negatively impacted by excess body weight
- suffers from poor self-image due to being overweight
- is interested in a non-surgical, short term solution to excess weight
- is willing to follow post-procedure instructions regarding diet and exercise
- is comfortable with an abdominal implant
- is physically able to tolerate an endoscope
Note that if you suffer from any post-surgical complications due to a gastrointestinal procedure; have had previous open bariatric surgery; or have experienced GI tract disorders, gastric balloon treatment may not be right for your needs. In addition, the gastric balloon is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing; for those with active substance abuse issues; or those taking aspirin or other gastric inflammatory agents.
Preparing for the procedure
The first step is to meet with an Athenix physician for your free, discreet consultation in Los Angeles, where he or she can assist you in determining if a gastric balloon is the best solution for your short term weight loss goals.
During this initial meeting, the doctor will examine your abdomen, inquire about previous medical history and prior attempts at weight reduction, discuss expectations for the surgery, and explain the requirements for completing the entire Athenix stomach balloon program. You will be able to view an extended library of before and after photographs of patients with similar physiques that highlight the wonderful benefits of receiving a gastric balloon.
By the end of the consultation, most clients report that they are more at ease, feel optimistic about the possibilities, and feel completely informed about all aspects of the procedure.
For at least 12 hours before the procedure you will need to abstain from food and liquids. Also in the days preceding treatment, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home from Athenix, and prepare yourself for the recovery period. This may mean hiring a helper to complete basic chores and childcare, or enlisting the assistance of a friend or family member who can buy you groceries and run other errands for you.
What happens on the day of my treatment?
When you arrive at the Athenix Body Sculpting Institute for your procedure, you will be greeted by our friendly team of nurses, techs and medical assistants that will prep you for balloon insertion. After being sedated, an empty silicon balloon is gently threaded through your mouth, down your esophagus and into your stomach, guided by an endoscope, or tiny medical camera. Using a monitor to ensure the balloon is properly placed, the doctors will then inflate it with saline. Note that the entire treatment lasts only 30 minutes on average.
After the placement and inflation of the balloon is complete, you will be wheeled into the recovery suite and monitored for approximately 2 hours, or until the doctors are confident it is safe to discharge you. At that point, you will be released to your friend or family member who has come to pick you up.
What can I anticipate in terms of recovery?
Feelings of gastric upset or nausea are sometimes present in the hours or days directly following insertion of the stomach balloon. These are normal reactions; they simply mean your body is adjusting. The Athenix team will provide you with targeted medications to reduce these side effects, along with a detailed aftercare plan, which you should follow to the letter.
For the first week or so, you will need to refrain from ingesting any solid foods, instead thriving on soups, jello, juice, milk and other liquids. You will also be advised to drink a certain amount of water to keep hydrated. Substances like chocolate, coffee, milkshakes and sodas should be strictly avoided.
As you slowly acclimate to the presence of the gastric balloon, you will need to adopt certain lifestyle changes. You will need to:
- chew your food slower and more completely
- choose smaller, more manageable portions
- choose lean proteins at most meals
- avoid fried foods, soft drinks, hi-calorie sweets, fatty salad dressings and artificial sweeteners
- enjoy steamed veggies
- avoid acidic drinks and foods at night, such as coffee, tea and OJ
- finish eating by 8pm, or at least two hours before bed
- abstain from smoking
- stay connected with the Athenix medical team
- attend scheduled follow-up sessions in Los Angeles
Following up on your gastric balloon procedure
After six months, it will be time to remove the stomach balloon. This 30-minute procedure will be similar to the insertion process, only this time the doctor will deflate the balloon in your stomach before extricating it. The saline is perfectly safe, and will be gently flushed out as part of your normal elimination process.
The second six-month period of your treatment – that time once the balloon has been removed – is among the most critical. You may be tempted to wander away from the program, but rest assured that if you can continue to focus and attend your sessions with the Athenix team, you will be forming a long term foundation of health and well being for decades to come. The gastric balloon is only one component of a more comprehensive lifestyle change, one that you will need to recommit to each morning as you begin your day.
Why should I choose Athenix Body Sculpting Institute for my Los Angeles gastric balloon procedure?
The gastric balloon is the newest body shaping technique on the market, but Athenix has been helping clients to look and feel their best for years. In addition to gastric balloon, we offer breast enhancement, body sculpting and cosmetic facial procedures for both men and women. Our physicians are board certified and meticulously trained in general, cosmetic, and reconstructive surgery, ensuring a safe, professional atmosphere for your gastric balloon treatment.
To uphold the highest standards of care, we follow strict protocols for all our procedures, performing blood tests, requiring medical clearance from a primary care physician, and making sure you are prescribed antibiotics before treatment to reduce risk of infection.
Where does the procedure take place?
Your gastric balloon procedure is performed at our accredited outpatient facility, The Athenix Body Sculpting Institute. There you will receive not only access to the most technologically advanced equipment, monitoring devices, software and instruments, but you will enjoy a rewarding, relaxing journey from the waiting room to the recovery room. Your privacy, safety and comfort are our top priorities at Athenix.