Gastric Balloons

Gastric Balloons: Cost, Types, Benefits, and Reviews

Gastric Balloons: Cost, Types, Benefits, and Reviews

What is a Gastric Balloon?

A gastric balloon is a simple yet innovative weight loss aid. It is a small silicone balloon that is placed into your stomach to reduce its capacity, thus making you feel full more quickly. It is a non-surgical procedure that is carried out by a specially trained doctor or nurse and is part of a successful weight loss programme. The insertion of the balloon is pretty straightforward. You will be given a mild sedative and the doctor will use an endoscope to guide the deflated balloon into your stomach via your esophagus. The endoscope is a thin, flexible tube which has a light and camera attached to its tip; this allows the doctor to clearly see what they are doing and to make sure that the balloon is inserted into the right place. Once inserted, the balloon will be filled with sterile saline solution. The amount of saline used influences the size of the balloon. After this has been completed, the doctor will gently remove the endoscope; the whole procedure takes around 20 minutes.

Cost of Gastric Balloons in the UK

If you are considering a gastric balloon in the UK, you should be prepared for the cost implications. The price of gastric balloons in the UK varies widely depending on factors such as the type of procedure, the clinic, and whether or not you can have it done under the NHS. In the UK, the average cost of a gastric balloon is about £3,500. This is largely because the procedure is considered to be cosmetic and hence it is very unlikely that you will be eligible for an NHS funded gastric balloon unless you have a BMI of over 40 and a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that could be improved if you were to lose weight. Additionally, prices can vary significantly depending on where you go for the procedure. For example, some private clinics offer gastric balloon surgery for as little as £2,500 while others charge up to £5,495! Always make sure to look at the total package cost for gastric balloons in the UK, as well as what is included in the price. The total package cost often includes the price of the gastric balloon, the supporting tests and investigations and aftercare. Some clinics will even include the price of removing the balloon as part of a larger package. If you do not see this information clearly displayed on a clinic’s website or literature, make sure to enquire as to what is included for the price you are paying. Also, it is worth knowing that some providers offer finance options which could allow you to make monthly payments, which is something that may make gastric balloon surgery more accessible for some people.

Types of Gastric Balloons

Gastric balloons are inflated in the stomach and left for a certain period of time in order to help reduce weight in obese patients. There are different types of gastric balloons designed for various purposes, with the temporary gastric balloon being the most popular due to its wide-ranging use. The procedure for insertion and removal of the balloons is the same, though the duration they are left in the stomach is different. The choice of which balloon to use depends on the size and shape of the stomach, as well as the need of the patient. Allurion gastric balloon (also known as Elipse balloon) measures 13cm by 28cm, and is swallowed under a general anesthesia. This balloon has no endoscopy or anesthesia and is filled with 550ml saline solution. It works in such a way that, the patient swallows a capsule containing the deflated balloon attached to a thin tube. Once the capsule is in the stomach, its balloon is inflated by pulling the tube and saline through the mouth and the tube detached. The thin tube is then removed from the mouth and the process is complete, with the patient able to go home after a short period of observation. The balloon will remain in the stomach for about six months after which it opens by itself and is excreted through the gastrointestinal track. On the other hand, Swallowable gastric balloon is facilitated by the use of a Real-time X-ray. This is to help confirm the position of the balloon before it is inflated. The patient will first have to swallow a contrast liquid (an inert and harmless liquid that appears white on X-ray), this in order for the doctor to view the process of swallowing on X-ray. The liquid is first put into a balloon, and then the balloon is placed in a capsule which is then attached to a thin tube. The patient will swallow the capsule and once it is on the stomach, the balloon is filled up with the contrast liquid to confirm its position before the saline is filled and the thin tube is detached. This type of gastric balloon is usually inserted during a process known as Gastroscopy, a procedure where a scope is inserted into the stomach through the mouth and used to view the inside of the stomach. Also, compared to allurion and swallowable gastric balloons, temporary gastric balloon is the hydrophobic option that is placed in the stomach and left for a period not more than six months. This type of balloon is usually used as a prelude to a more lasting weight loss surgery in case the patient needs. The procedure of inserting this type of balloon is less complicated as it does not involve swallowing tubes or opening the body. The process starts by properly cleaning the endoscopy, a thin tube with a camera at the end that can be passed through the mouth and into the stomach. After cleaning, the patient resting on his or her chest will be sedated by applying a numbing spray at the back of the throat and a sedative is administered through a small needle (cannula) which stays on the arm. The doctor will then pass the endoscopy in the stomach through the mouth and the balloon will be inserted. The procedure is facilitated by use of X-ray in order to view the endoscope and to confirm the position of the temporary gastric balloon, this way allowing the doctor to fill it successfully. Once the balloon is filled with a saline solution, the thin tube through which the solution is supplied is detached and the temporary gastric balloon is left in the stomach. The saline solution in the balloon prevents it from moving while inside the stomach. After about six months of insertion in which the patient undergoes a weight loss program, the balloon is removed using endoscopy just like the insertion process.

Allurion Gastric Balloon

This balloon does not require the use of an endoscope for insertion, and it does not require any sedation or anaesthesia. The placement of this balloon has been referred to as an « outpatient procedure » due to the short amount of time that it takes to complete. The Orbera and Reshape balloons are placed using endoscopy, and these procedures are performed in the endoscopy department of a hospital or clinic. Starting in the 2020s, the Elipse balloon has been available and does not require endoscopy for placement. Some sources describe the Elipse balloon as the world’s first and only procedureless gastric balloon. However, that partially depends on how the term « procedureless » is defined, and some may argue that an endoscopy is not necessarily a « surgical » procedure. Regardless, it is well known that the Allurion balloon does not require endoscopy, and it is a popular type of swallowable balloon.

Swallowable Gastric Balloon

Swallowable balloons are the newest technology, designed for patients apprehensive of sedation or endoscopy. These balloons are swallowed just like pills and are inflated once the doctor confirms its position by an X-ray examination. Swallowable gastric balloons do not require invasive endoscopy. By contrast, the non-swallowable intragastric balloons must be deflated and removed endoscopically. These balloons may be left in the stomach for a few months depending on the patient’s needs. After four months the balloon softens and the shell breaks down, and it is then excreted. Because of its one-and-done nature, there is no need to worry about deflation as with other methods; the balloon will remain under ultrasound monitoring as the patient partakes in a weight loss program. The common types of swallowable gastric balloons include Obalon and Elipse and they will be analyzed in detail in our subsequent pages. By no means a cheap option, many patients may be dissuaded from considering a gastric balloon due to the cost. However, a new monthly installment option that allows patients to spread the cost – much like financing a car – will certainly attract those people who are yet to be convinced. Some swallowable balloons have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and some are still in clinical trials. Up to the year 2016, FDA had only permitted one swallowable gastric balloon which had to be removed after three months of implantation as stated by the 12th edition of Clinical Gastroenterology.

Temporary Gastric Balloon

In this procedure a gastric balloon is inserted into the stomach endoscopically and it is designed to remain in the stomach for a maximum of 6 months and it requires to be removed after that time. The most common brand of temporary gastric balloon is the Orbera balloon. The Orbera procedure begins with the patient being mildly sedated and the balloon, while deflated, is first inserted into the stomach orally through the esophagus. This is much less invasive compared to the Lap-Band surgery where an incision is required across the abdomen in order to insert the band into the stomach. The inflated balloon occupies enough space in the stomach so that only small amounts of food needs to be consumed in order to feel full. Because the temporary gastric balloon forces the patient to get used to consuming smaller portion sizes, it’s common for patients to lose over 10% of their weight within the 6 month period that the balloon is in place, research has shown that such weight loss significantly decreases the risk of developing life reliability illnesses such as Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. However, as with every invasive medical procedure, there are risks associated with temporary gastric balloon surgery. The main risks are vomiting, nausea, cramps and potential accumulation of too much stomach acid due to the reduced volume of the stomach that the balloon causes.

Gastric Balloons

Benefits and Risks of Gastric Balloons

The short-term goals of your weight loss with the gastric balloon is to improve your physical health, increase your mobility and physical abilities, provide you with the knowledge of proper nutrition so you can make better and well-educated food decisions and improve your quality of life. The long-term goals of the gastric balloon weight loss treatment would be to maximize your weight loss in a healthy and careful manor possible, empower you to take control of your body, your mind and make healthier decisions for your future and minimize the risk of weight-related health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart related illnesses and many others. Although the gastric balloon option is not for everyone, the success rate may be greater among those patients that lead a healthy lifestyle. Many practitioners and doctors will provide you with a robust and varied aftercare program designed to help make your long-term weight loss aims a reality. This program often consists of regular weigh-ins and check-ups, one-on-one sessions with medical practitioners or discussion groups involving fellow gastric balloon patients. These sessions are often used to discuss the difficulties and successes each individual may find with the gastric balloon option. Also, it is highly beneficial to speak with former patients who have undergone the weight loss treatment so you can gain a personal account of what to expect, what is expected from yourself and how the gastric balloon has fundamentally changed their lives. By joining you up with a support network, providing you with expert advice and physicians and by giving you the self-confidence to speak about any issues or concerns, the long-term goals of the weight loss solution can be met.

Gastric Balloon Reviews, and Results

According to Dr. Aurora Pryor, president of the Society and associate chair for clinical affairs in the department of surgery at Stony Brook University in New York, the percentage of weight lost from balloon placement is less than other bariatric procedures at the 1 year mark. American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery has published the information on the 1-year weight loss success rates for weight loss surgery patients. According to the information provided at their official website, the average 1-year excess weight loss was 38% for gastric balloon patients whereas average 1-year excess weight loss was 50% for gastric bypass patients and 70% for gastric band patients.

In general, most adults will be able to have this procedure if they are obese, but have not had any previous stomach or esophageal surgery. In order for health insurance to cover the cost of weight loss balloon surgery, a person will usually have to have a BMI of 30 or above, a history of failed weight loss attempts, and at least one weight loss related complication.

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