How Balloons Are Shaping the Future

Over the past two decades or so, there have been lots of new developments in the world of surgery for those who struggle with obesity. This includes the lap band and the gastric bypass, for instance. However, there has been a real cry out for even better developments, and this has included the gastric balloon. The reason for this is that, although a new directive was put in place in 2006 for the training of gastric surgeons, there are still significant risks associated with the surgery as a whole.

The Dangers of Surgery

Any surgical procedure carries risks with it, and the more invasive the surgery is, the higher those risks become as well. Naturally, medical science constantly looks at improving the way surgery is performed, and this has had some tremendous results. For instance, the mortality rate of bariatric surgery has dropped by 0.08% to just 0.2% of cases, and even the rates of complications have dropped by 2.2% to just 10%. However, this still means that one in ten people who have this surgery completed will have some sort of complications.

The Gastric Balloon

One way to address the problem with complications, linked to the invasiveness of bariatric surgery, is to come up with something completely new and non-invasive. This seems to have been achieved by the gastric balloon. The idea of a gastric balloon is nothing new, but when it was first tried, the material of the balloon would disintegrate in the stomach and cause significant health risks. Today, however, this has completely changed.

The gastric balloon is inserted into the stomach of a patient through an endoscopic tube. Once it is in place, that same tube then fills the balloon with a saline solution, which means the stomach is filled to around 80% capacity while the balloon is in place. It stays there for six months, after which it is removed with a similar, but reversed, procedure. Endoscopic procedures have incredibly low complication rates due to the fact that they are so minimally invasive.

The new gastric balloon has only been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a relatively short period of time, but it has already changed the lives of many people. It is perfect for two groups of people, both of which have traditionally required gastric surgery but were not able to access it. Those two groups are:

  1. Those who are overweight, but not quite obese. This same group of people would sometimes overeat on purpose just so that they would become heavy enough to warrant surgery.
  2. Those who are so obese that they are not healthy enough to withstand the anesthetic required for gastric surgery.

Does it Work?

The best thing about the gastric balloon is that it works incredibly well. Because the size of the stomach is so significantly restricted, it simply isn’t possible to overeat. And because it is in place for six months, it gives people the time to change their eating habits as well, which is what they will need to keep up afterwards.

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