Chapter 2

Gastric Balloon Side Effects

What are the Ineffectivenesses and Risks of Gastric Balloon?

No medical treatment is fully beneficial. Entering a balloon into your stomach cannot be an all-easy, no-hassle-at-all procedure. Even if you don’t experience many of the most common implications such as nausea and vomiting, still it takes a few days or a week till your body gets used to it.

Gastric balloons also lack some functionalities in comparison with surgical treatments of obesity. Finally, you should how it is less responsive than procedures like gastric sleeve or gastric bypass, and what is the risk of complications that might put your health and comfort in danger.

But before we start, let’s have a quick review of what we’ve learned so far about gastric balloon in the first chapter.

gastric balloon

Unsustainable, Less Weight-Loss

Gastric bypass is a nonsurgical bariatric procedure and one of the reversible ones, which makes it safer and easier, but it relatively causes less weight loss. For instance, patients lose up to 70% of their excess body weight after sleeve gastrectomy, but about half of this amount after gastric balloon.

Moreover, when the balloon is removed from your body if you start to eat more than what your body needs, there is a high chance you will regain the weight. This is exactly why most gastric balloon patients are the ones who want to lessen their BMI (Body Mass Index) to be able to have a better weight-loss surgery afterward. In other cases, gastric balloon is only suggested to the patients with not too high BMIs who are determined to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Gastric Balloon Side Effects

  • Acid Reflux After Intragastric Balloon

Acid reflux, sometimes followed by heartburn, is one of the most common side effects of stomach balloons. To avoid or lessen this condition, just stop consuming dairies, alcohol, caffeine, spicy and fatty foods. Also, your doctor will prescribe acid-blocking medications for this. If you feel acid reflux while eating, just stop and continue later.

  • Nausea and Vomiting

This is also seen frequently among overweight patients, especially during the first couple of days after the surgery, sometimes up to 10 days. You should just tolerate it till this phase passes. Stomach discomfort, vomiting, and nausea is your body’s reaction to the balloon inside itself. So, there’s no need to worry.

But in the case of excessive reaction, your bariatric doctor will prescribe medications to end nausea or vomiting. If this condition continues after 10 days, you should definitely contact your surgeon.

  • Pain and Stomach Cramps

Within the first 48 hours, the weight loss balloon irritates the muscles of your stomach wall, which you will experience as stomach cramps and pain. This annoying condition usually disappears after 3 or 4 days while you follow your liquid diet.

  • Other Symptoms of Gastric Balloon Side Effects

You might feel bloated because of the intragastric balloon in your stomach, and that’s the main goal of this procedure. But you should know that this condition is temporary and as soon as the balloon is removed, this feeling fades away.

Not chewing your food properly and not having a regular exercise program may cause bad-smelling belching or burping. you can also take a sip of water 30 minutes after each meal to wash off the balloon.

The rare yet the most important one is the potential gastric balloon rupture, which may cause bowel obstruction after the filling material leaks into the stomach, as deflated balloon migrates into the intestines. In order to address this risk, a methylene blue is usually added to the filling material as a ‘warning sign. There could be several reasons for the rupture, such as the changes in air pressure.

Therefore, I advise my patients to avoid activities such as skydiving or scuba diving during the treatment. Similarly, many patients ask if it is possible to travel by plane if they have a stomach balloon. Although you may experience transient bloating or cramping when flying, the gastric balloon safely tolerates the changes in altitude when traveling by plane.

Now that you know the potential risks and side effects of this weight-loss procedure, it’s time to take a look at its costs in different countries, whether insurance covers the overall costs, and how you can do it with lower prices.