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The Gastric Balloon: Fad or Game-Changer?

Gastric Balloon, Houston Surgical Associates

If you’re obese, and adjusting your diet and exercise habits haven’t been effective for weight loss, you have good reason to consider a procedure to help you lose weight. More than one-third of Americans have a body mass index of 30 or more, putting them at risk for a host of chronic conditions. Almost 20% of the deaths of people between the ages of 40 and 85 years in the United States can be attributed to obesity.

Given those sobering statistics, it’s somewhat surprising to learn that only about 2% of the people who qualify for weight loss surgery actually get it. Cost, concerns about the invasiveness of surgery, or being only mildly to moderately obese are all barriers that may prevent you from seeking surgical intervention for weight loss.

The gastric balloon

The gastric balloon was first introduced in the 1980s, but researchers at the time were unable to demonstrate that the device was efficient. Today’s gastric balloons are significantly different. The deflated balloon—sometimes in capsule form—is placed in your stomach through a minimally invasive means. It’s then filled with either a saline solution or with gas to inflate it.

The balloon takes up space in your stomach, which helps you feel full and prevents you from overeating. It’s temporary, though, and the balloon is removed, usually after six months.

Other weight loss methods

Gastric sleeves, gastric bands, and gastric bypass surgeries still have practical applications and are sometimes the best methods for treatment. However, there are some clear benefits to the gastric balloon when it’s the most appropriate approach.

Other weight loss surgeries are just that: surgical interventions. Dr. Reilly wouldn’t suggest surgery if the benefits didn’t outweigh the risks, but there are inherent risks with any surgery. The gastric balloon is placed using a tool called an endoscope, and the process is less invasive and has a far shorter recovery time—usually hours—than a surgical procedure.

Because Dr. Reilly uses an endoscope, you don’t have surgical incisions, which lowers the chance you’ll develop an infection. You’ll be able to return to your normal activities after 24 hours, with no lifting restrictions.

Some weight loss surgeries involve relatively drastic and permanent changes to your digestive system. Depending on your circumstances, these changes can be beneficial, but if you can achieve the same result through less drastic means, all the better.


If you have a BMI of 30 or more, that is usually about 25 pounds overweight, you may be a good candidate for the gastric balloon. Losing even a few pounds can reduce your risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and a host of other chronic conditions that have been linked to obesity.

If you’d like to learn more about the gastric balloon, book an appointment by phone or online with Dr. Reilly at Houston Surgical Associates. He’s happy to provide a consultation and discuss your individual situation, specific needs, and make a treatment recommendation that will help you meet your goals.

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