The world is facing a huge health crisis, being that of obesity. This disease has also opened a whole new market, with exercise programs, diet books, and weight loss pills being purchased in their billions. In fact, there are so many out there that it is now impossible to tell which ones are genuine, and which ones are simply a marketing gimmick. There is an alternative, however, which is the gastric balloon. But can you really expect a balloon to help you to lose weight? And just how safe is it? Those are all very important questions.


What Is a Gastric Balloon?

Gastric balloons have been designed for those people who are overweight or obese, but do not have a BMI high enough to be considered for the gastric band. The procedure is relative simply, involving a balloon being inserted into the stomach through the mouth. Once in place, weight loss ensues very rapidly, as people lose their appetite and feel completely full after just a few small bits.

What About Safety?

It is incredibly rare for the balloon to deflate before it is due to be removed. The first time it is inserted, it is deflated and then gets filled up with a saline solution, as well as a blue dye. This blue dye is important, because if it were to deflate or puncture, the patient’s urine will turn blue, telling them to seek medical attention straight away. Although incredibly rare, it has happened for patients to not be aware of the deflation of their device, and for them to have actually passed it with their stools.

In 2008, however, a study was completed that showed only 4% of patients who had one fitted would ask for it to be removed early. Those who kept the balloon in place for the required six months, could experience a 12.5% reduction in their overall weight. The study, completed by Columbia University, also demonstrated that those who had the balloon fitted had an 8% increase in weight loss over a three month period compared to people who did not diet. Those who received both a balloon and nutritional counseling would lose as much as 16%. In most cases, this weight loss was a permanent result, with people keeping it up for months after the balloon removal.

When the balloon is first fitted, it is normal to experience nausea, loss of appetite, and even vomiting for between 24 and 48 hours. You will usually be prescribed anti-nausea drugs to help combat this. These side effects are not dangerous, however, and they are very mild. As a result, it is recognized that the gastric balloon is one of the most effective short term solutions for people who need to lose weight. This makes it a very important development in the fight against obesity, one of the greatest killers in the world today. If you feel you are a good candidate, therefore, you should consider booking in for a consultation.