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Gastric balloon specifications

FAQ INTRODUCTION

The gastric balloon procedure, sometimes inaccurately referred to colloquially as stomach balloon surgery, is becoming an increasingly popular and cost-effective technique to help people lose weight. It has garnered much interest from those seeking to gain an advantage in the battle against obesity—an interest evidenced by the many questions we receive on a regular basis, regarding various facets of the gastric balloon procedure, as well as the high frequency and volume of internet searches concerning the same.

People who want to know how to lose weight fast or the best way to lose weight often search for ‘balloon surgery,’ ‘gastric balloon surgery,’ ‘stomach balloon surgery,’ and, in the case of the thrifty, ‘gastric balloon surgery cost.’  But the gastric balloon procedure is not really a bariatric surgery at all. In fact, it is non-surgical and non-invasive, which are two of its greatest advantages. Is it the best way to lose weight? Well, that depends, but if you meet the criteria outlined hereafter, it just might be a favourable option.

Below you’ll find answers to some of the most popular questions sent our way. Also included are links to both information on cost/prices and those all-important gastric balloon reviews. We hope you find this FAQ useful, but, of course, if you have a question not answered here, feel free to contact us directly.

 

GASTRIC BALLOON SPECIFICATIONS

What types of gastric balloon do you offer for weight loss?

We offer the Spatz3 Adjustable Balloon System®, designed for 12-month implantation, and the ORBERA® or MedSil® gastric balloon systems, each designed for six-month implantation. All three balloons are manufactured in accordance with EU product regulations.

 

How do the six-month and 12-month balloons differ?

The six-month balloon tends to be less irritating to the stomach, but its liquid content cannot be adjusted after implantation. Conversely, the 12-month option allows for the addition of liquid, should the patient be losing weight too slowly, or reduction thereof, should the inverse be true, but it does have a greater tendency to cause irritation.

 

What is the liquid capacity of each type of balloon and to what degree is each filled when in place?

The maximum capacity for the Spatz3® balloon is 850 ml and 700 ml for both the ORBERA® and MedSil® balloons. In all cases, the balloon must be filled to a minimum of 400 ml and is typically not filled to maximum capacity, as this has the potential to cause undue ongoing stomach sickness—at least in the beginning stages following implantation.

 

How large are the balloons?

Each type of balloon is approximately 11 cm (4 in) in diameter when filled.

 

How much stomach space does the balloon occupy?

Approximately one-third of total stomach volume.

 

What material are the balloons made of? I am vegan and concerned whether any of the constituent parts include gluten.  

Each type of balloon comprises a soft silicone body and contains no gluten.

 

What is the composition of the liquid used to fill the balloon and what are the potential hazards in the event of balloon rupture?  

The liquid is composed of 5% NaCl or saline, combined with a contrast dye known as methylene blue. In the rare event of balloon rupture or leak, the liquid does no harm and will simply pass out of the body, turning urine blue as an indication of the leak.

 

Is it possible to detect that someone has a balloon in the stomach?

The balloon can be identified by ultrasound or X-ray, but not by touch. The stomach of a person with a balloon may appear as though that person has just eaten a meal, but the balloon does not create a defined hump in the stomach area.

 

Does the liquid amount within the balloon diminish over time and in what circumstances is a refill necessary?

Barring any defects, the liquid amount—and therefore the size of the balloon—does not diminish for the period of implantation. As a result, it is usually only necessary to increase the fluid amount if the patient stops losing weight at the original volume.

 

Gastric balloon prices

How much is a gastric balloon implantation?

The gastric balloon procedure (remember, it’s not a surgery) might cost less than you think, but how much a gastric balloon is depends in no small part on where you have it done. You can find our list of gastric balloon prices here.

 

Why are there two different gastric balloon prices and what is the difference between the two options?

The two options differ in terms of the type of gastric balloon used and the corresponding implantation period. One balloon is designed for an implantation period of six months, the other for 12.

A longer implantation period affords the patient more time to grow accustomed to diet and lifestyle changes.

 

CLINIC EXPERIENCE

How many times has your clinic performed the gastric balloon implantation procedure, using the six-month and 12-month balloons, respectively?

As of this writing, our clinic has implanted the six-month balloon about 600 times and the 12-month balloon about 150 times, for an approximate total of 750 implantations. In other words, they’re well experienced.

 

GASTRIC BALLOON WEIGHT LOSS RESULTS

How much weight can one typically lose with the six-month gastric balloon?

Usually between 10 and 20 kg (22 and 44 lbs).

 

What is the lowest, highest, and average weight loss recorded at the clinic with the Spatz3® balloon?

Numbers, in this case, are not particularly helpful, because weight loss is directly influenced by the patient’s behaviour and his or her original weight. We understand our clients want to know how to lose weight fast—and the gastric balloon can certainly be an aid in this regard—but the best way to lose weight, safely and in concert with the balloon, is by sensible diet and lifestyle changes. Without these elements, chances of success are markedly reduced.

That said, the lowest weight loss recorded at the clinic using the Spatz3® balloon is 0 kg. There was one client who even put on a kilo or more, but who later admitted he still relied upon fast food for his daily food intake.

Nevertheless, the Spatz3® balloon is usually effective—average weight loss at the clinic comes to about 25 kg, and the record high is 40 kg.

 

Will my body composition be measured before implantation and after removal?

No. We only calculate body mass index (BMI). We do not record specific body fat, bone, muscle, connective tissue, or water composition measures.

 

INDICATIONS

For whom is the balloon recommended?

As a bariatric procedure, the gastric balloon is intended for those with a body mass index of 27 or greater and for whom other non-surgical attempts to lose weight have met with failure. It can also be particularly helpful to those considered too overweight for surgery.

 

CONTRAINDICATIONS

For whom is the balloon not recommended?

The balloon is not recommended for individuals with any of the following: prior gastrointestinal surgery resulting in sequelae; prior open or laparoscopic bariatric surgery; significant hiatal hernia; acute ulcer (stomach or duodenal); inflammatory diseases of the GI tract; diabetes requiring insulin therapy; potential upper gastrointestinal bleeding; or any medical condition precluding endoscopy.

Scars, both internal and external, resulting from abdominal surgery must be at least six months old—preferably older. The vomiting that often follows implantation can potentially rupture young scar tissue and sutures.

The gastric balloon is also not recommended for individuals who have mental health problems; alcohol or drug addictions; receive daily prescribed treatment with aspirin, anti-inflammatory agents, corticosteroids, anticoagulants or other gastric irritants; are currently or may be pregnant or breast-feeding; or are not willing to participate in a diet and behaviour modification programme.

 

Why can diabetics who use insulin not undergo the gastric balloon procedure?

The vomiting commonly associated with the early stages following implantation can act as a trigger for hypoglycaemia, posing a serious risk to the patient.

 

PREOPERATIVE CARE

Is there a preoperative check-up and, if yes, how long does it take?

Yes. The preoperative check-up is carried out on the day of the procedure, after you check in to the clinic. A nurse takes your blood, and you provide a urine sample.  Just before the actual procedure, an endoscopic examination of throat, stomach, and duodenum is performed.

What restrictions are there before balloon implantation, adjustment, or removal procedures?

In all cases, it is critical not to smoke, eat, or drink after midnight prior to the day of the procedure. On the day, you must be completely healthy.

 

THE DAY OF THE PROCEDURE

What is the schedule on the day of implantation, adjustment, or removal?

You arrive to the clinic between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Upon signing the agreement, you are taken to your room, where you change into your hospital gown and the nurse performs preoperative blood and urine tests. Whilst awaiting the test results, you relax in your room and make payment. After the procedure, you are attended to in your room by the 24/7 nurse staff.

 

How long does the gastric balloon procedure take?

Between 20 and 30 minutes.

 

Is the procedure painful or uncomfortable?

Implantation of the balloon is non-invasive. It is performed endoscopically under intravenous sedation, which ensures that the patient experiences minimum discomfort.

 

DURATION OF STAY

How long will I need to stay at the clinic?

One night for implantation and, for adjustment or extraction, six hours following the procedure. In the case of implantation, you are released to go home the following day—by 2 p.m. on Fridays, as the clinic is closed at the weekend.

Is it allowable for me to stay the night at a hotel instead of the clinic following the implantation procedure?

No. For reasons of medical supervision, the patient must stay at the clinic the first night following implantation.

 

How long should I remain in Prague following release from the clinic?

Barring any complications, following release you are free to return home. There is typically no need to remain in Prague, unless you wish it—which you might.

 

AFTERCARE

Is there is a restriction on altitude level that would prevent me from flying home immediately following implantation?

Many of our clients come from abroad, flying home the day after the procedure, and we have received no reports of adverse reactions to high altitudes. Nor have airlines issued any prohibitions against flying following the procedure. Thus, based upon our experience and that of our patients, we currently issue no restrictions concerning air travel after the procedure.

 

How soon after the procedure will I be able to resume physical exercise?

You may attempt exercise a minimum of three weeks after the procedure, but for some this may be too early. It depends on how you feel, and personal judgement must be employed in the matter, along with the advice of your physician.


Will I need to follow any special diet after the procedure and, if so, what will it entail?

For the first three days following implantation, you will need to adhere to a strictly liquid diet, comprising semi skimmed milk, low calorie/reduced sugar squash, herbal teas, water-juice mixes, and clarified beef or chicken broth-based soups.

From the end of the third day to day 10, soft foods may be introduced, but portions should remain small. Examples of suitable foods include yoghurt, mashed potato, and blended fruits and vegetables. Between meals, you may drink tea or water. 

 

Does the clinic offer a nutritional support programme, including meal planner and weight loss tips?

The clinic itself does provide a basic diet plan, but Medical Travel also offers tailored diet plans, a meal planner, and weight loss tips through its Post-procedure Customised Nutrition Programme. You can find more details here (scroll down). Of course, diet plans, a meal planner, and weight loss tips alone may be insufficient to help you lose the weight you want, but, in concert with the gastric balloon, they can work wonders.

 

What can I do to help combat the vomiting and nausea that often follows implantation?

We recommend drinking fizzy beverages or beer in small amounts, which may afford some relief by inducing belching.  Alternatively, we recommend metoclopramide in the form of drops, not tablets. Also, try antacids to soothe the oesophagus and stomach and Thiethylperazine suppositories to guard against vomiting.  

 

Here’s what our very own bariatric specialist, Dr. Jungwirthová, has to say about nausea as it relates to the gastric balloon:

‘Feeling unwell is very normal in the first weeks following insertion of the balloon.

In more sensitive people, these sensations are amplified. It’s a bit like travel sickness or the morning sickness experienced during the first weeks of pregnancy—but longer-lasting.  

 

Sensations of pressure and bloating in the upper part of the stomach and epigastrium are normal. The balloon is turning and floating, basically acting as an obstruction—just like a big chunk of undigested food. The stomach is trying to liquidise and process it in order to send it down the digestive track, but this can't be done, because the pyloric canal is too narrow, precluding transfer of the balloon into the large intestine. The journey back to the throat is also too narrow to allow regurgitation. It is thus the body’s inability to digest the balloon that leads to a feeling of sickness.

 

The suggestion to drink beer or fizzy beverages is just general advice, and these drinks help mainly by relieving excessive pressure in the stomach through belching. Lactose intolerance may be dealt with by consuming fermented dairy products, which tend to break up the lactose. Sweetened milk, however, should be eliminated from the diet.

 

For those who prefer a diet of solid foods to soft ones (once intake of solid foods is allowable), antacids can serve as a replacement to fermented dairy products.

 

A critical aspect to dealing with nausea in the early stages after implantation is to persevere and not to rely too much on medications, which should be viewed as auxiliary. Do your best to find a way to tolerate the balloon. For sensitive persons with a tendency to vomit, a small dose of anxiolytics or an herbal preparation such as valerian may help simply by calming them down.

 

It is also important to try not to think of having a strange object in the stomach. Suppress in your mind any thoughts that you have an imposter in your body. Typically, everything will calm down with time.’

 

 

MEDICATIONS

What medications will I need to take after the procedure and for how long?

Right after the procedure, infusions are given to counteract pain and vomiting.

 

For home use, you will receive:

Omeprazole (20 mg), to be taken morning and evening for the duration of the implantation period to help reduce acid production in the stomach.

 

Prokinetics, to be taken thrice daily, 20 minutes before each meal—i.e., morning, midday, and evening—for roughly the first two months following implantation. The balloon causes food to remain in the stomach longer, acting as an artificial barrier to digestion; the prokinetic helps to counteract this by stimulating gastrointestinal motility.

 

For use in the event of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bruising, or heartburn, you will also receive:

Antiemetic suppositories, to counteract vomiting and to be taken as needed at a maximum of four times per day.

An antacid, three to four sachets of which are to be taken daily.

An analgesic, at a dosage of 20 to 25 drops up to three times a day.

 

POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS

What risks does the gastric balloon procedure entail?

As an endoscopic procedure, gastric balloon implantation presents fewer potential complications than invasive surgical weight loss procedures that employ general anaesthesia. However, it does carry the following risks:

  • Damage to the oesophagus or stomach which can lead to bleeding and discomfort as well as the formation of ulcers. If this occurs and is severe, emergency surgery is required.
  • Infection and/or intestinal obstruction caused by the balloon leaking. The balloon is designed to pass through the intestines without issue, but, in very rare cases, it can cause an obstruction requiring additional surgery.
  • Because your stomach has to adjust to the presence of the balloon, stomach discomfort, cramping, nausea, and vomiting are common side effects during the first days following balloon placement. Sensations of heaviness in the abdomen, abdominal or back pain, gastro-oesophageal reflux, and indigestion have also been reported.
  • There is a chance of uncontrolled, excessive weight loss, which can lead to adverse health consequences, as well as early removal.
  • In the event of prolonged or ongoing episodes of vomiting, there is a risk of dehydration, in which case it may be advisable to remove the balloon.

 

What is the record at the clinic concerning the occurrence of nausea and infection in patients?

Given the relative frequency of nausea and stomach sickness, the clinic makes no formal record of those who have experienced these symptoms nor of those who have experienced none whatsoever.

Importantly, no infections have been reported.

 

How many balloon ruptures have occurred at the clinic in the past and were there any complications as a result?

Not one balloon rupture has occurred in any of the clinic’s patients. As such, there have been no related complications.

 

How many times has the clinic had to remove a balloon before the implantation period was complete, due to intolerance or other complications?

As of this writing, five times, two of which were due to patients changing their minds only three days after implantation.

 

BALLOON ADJUSTMENT AND EXTRACTION

What is involved in the processes of balloon adjustment and extraction?

When adjusting or extracting the balloon, analgosedation is used, but the side effects typical to implantation, such as nausea stomach discomfort, tend not to occur, so the patient can usually leave the same afternoon. However, both adjustment and extraction each require the patient stay in the clinic for at least six hours following the procedure.

Due to the analgosedation, operating a motor vehicle is prohibited for some time after the procedure, so a driver will be required.

Pre-treatment tests are not required for adjustment and extraction.

 

After how long is the balloon typically extracted and how is it removed?

Barring early extraction due to complications, the balloon is removed either six months or one year after implantation, depending on the type of balloon used. The balloon is extracted in the same manner it was inserted—endoscopically.

 

The gastric balloon procedure abroad in prague (or how to lose weight fast and save money while you’re at it)

Why should I come to Prague or go abroad for the gastric balloon to begin with, when I have the option in my own homeland?

A good question. The gastric balloon is now available in many countries around the world, true, but going abroad for treatment can afford certain advantages in terms of cost, without sacrificing quality—providing you choose the right destination.

Particularly, coming to Prague for the gastric balloon through Medical Travel can provide additional benefits in the way of savvy customer assistance and touring guidance. We know the lay of the land well and leverage that knowledge to get you top-tier medical care at the best prices. Why spend more when you can spend less?

 

GASTRIC BALLOON REVIEWS

What’s in an unsolicited review? Well, quite a bit, we think. To read gastric balloon reviews from some of our clients, have a look here, where you’ll learn what people really think—not only of the procedure, but of our services as well.

FEEL FREE to contact us here

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