Intra-what we hear you say? The Intragastric Balloon is a non-surgical, scarless procedure that will help you shed stubborn fat, promote weight loss, and drop dress sizes so you can reach your ideal weight. We spoke to Dr Ganesh Ramalingam of G & L Surgical, who is a specialist in the procedure, to find out how it works, and how you can benefit.
Who’s the ideal candidate for an Intragastric Balloon?
Anyone who has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 27, has 10 kilos or more weight to lose, or is not suited for weight loss surgery can opt for this procedure. Using the balloon may help with weight loss before another surgical procedure, thus reducing operative risk.
Tell us what’s involved.
First, a standard endoscopy is performed under sedation. Then, the balloon is inserted through the mouth into the stomach. Once inside, a small filling tube attached to the balloon allows it to be filled with sterile saline, which takes about 10 minutes. Patients are then monitored for an hour before they go home. Just before they are discharged, patients are allowed to consume small amounts of liquids orally. They are required to continue the liquid diet for about a week until they get used to the balloon being in the stomach. Thereafter they can proceed to a healthy diet where food is consumed in small portions and very slowly. The patient can usually start exercising within two weeks of inserting the balloon.
So how exactly does it help with weight loss?
When you have a saline-filled balloon implanted in the stomach you’re likely to feel fuller. It also reduces its capacity. The balloon causes food to stay longer in the stomach, increasing the feeling of satiety. Accompanied with a healthy diet and lifestyle habits, the Intragastric Balloon helps with losing weight.
The feeling of fullness and reduced stomach capacity is only part of the programme. The patient will meet with the doctor and a dietitian/behaviour modification specialist monthly over a one year period to help change his eating behaviour and lifestyle.
What precautions do you need to take after the balloon is inserted? Are there any dietary restrictions?
It’s very likely that the presence of the balloon in the stomach will cause nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain of varying intensity for up to a week after insertion. Medication will minimise these potential side effects. However, aspirin and other anti- inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen are not permitted, even in small quantities or occasionally.
Can this be a long-term solution when it comes to losing weight?
The Intragastric Balloon mainly functions to help reduce the amount of food consumed at each meal. The main idea is to kick-start the ideals of weight loss – including a smaller and a healthier diet. Further education on nutrition, exercise and support from the doctor will provide the basis for longer-term weight loss even after the balloon has been removed.