Intragastric balloon



The intragastric balloon procedure
Intragastric balloon procedure

Intragastric balloon procedure

The intragastric balloon procedure
Intragastric balloon procedure

Intragastric balloon placement is a weight-loss procedure that involves placing a saline-filled silicone balloon in your stomach. This helps you lose weight by limiting how much you can eat and making you feel full faster. Placing an intragastric balloon is a temporary procedure that does not require surgery.

The intragastric balloon procedure may be an option if you have concerns about your weight, and diet and exercise haven't worked for you.

Like other weight-loss procedures, an intragastric balloon requires commitment to a healthier lifestyle. You need to make permanent healthy changes to your diet and get regular exercise to help ensure the long-term success of the procedure.

Why it's done

The placement of an intragastric balloon helps you lose weight. Weight loss can lower your risk of potentially serious weight-related health problems, such as:

  • Certain cancers, including breast, endometrial and prostate cancer.
  • Heart disease and stroke.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol levels.
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Type 2 diabetes.

Intragastric balloon placement and other weight-loss procedures or surgeries are typically done only after you've tried to lose weight by improving your diet and exercise habits.

Who it's for

An intragastric balloon may be an option for you if:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is between 30 and 40.
  • You're willing to commit to healthy lifestyle changes, get regular medical follow-up and participate in behavioral therapy.
  • You have not had any previous stomach or esophageal surgery.

Intragastric balloons aren't the right choice for everyone who is overweight. A screening process will help your doctor see if the procedure might be beneficial for you.

The cost for placing and removing the intragastric balloon may not be covered by health insurance. If it's not covered, it would be an out-of-pocket expense.


Pain and nausea affect about one-third of people soon after insertion of an intragastric balloon. However, these symptoms usually only last for a few days after balloon placement.

Although rare, serious side effects may occur after intragastric balloon placement. Call your doctor immediately if nausea, vomiting and belly pain occur any time after surgery.

A potential risk includes balloon deflation. If the balloon deflates, there's also a risk that it could move through your digestive system. This can cause a blockage that may require another procedure or surgery to remove the device.

Other possible risks include overinflation, acute pancreatitis, ulcers or a hole in the stomach wall, called a perforation. A perforation might require surgery to fix.

How you prepare

If you're going to have an intragastric balloon placed in your stomach, your health care team will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your procedure. You may need to have various lab tests and exams before your procedure.

You may need to restrict what you eat and drink, as well as which medications you take, in the time leading up to the procedure. You also may be required to start a physical activity program.

What you can expect

During the procedure

The intragastric balloon procedure is done in the endoscopy unit as an outpatient procedure. You'll be sedated for the procedure.

During the procedure, a thin tube called a catheter is moved down your throat and into your stomach. The intragastric balloon is inside the catheter. Next, the doctor advances an endoscope — a flexible tube with a camera attached — down your throat and into your stomach. The camera allows your doctor to see while filling the balloon with saline.

The procedure takes about a half-hour. You can usually go home 1 to 2 hours after the procedure is finished.

After the procedure

You can have small amounts of clear liquids starting about six hours after the procedure. The liquid diet generally continues until the start of the second week, when you can start eating soft foods. You'll probably be able to start eating regular food around three weeks after the insertion of the intragastric balloon.

Intragastric balloons are left in place for up to six months and are then removed using an endoscope. At that time, a new balloon may be placed, or not, depending on the plan determined by you and your doctor.

You'll also meet with members of your medical team, such as your nutritionist and psychologist, frequently after your procedure.


An intragastric balloon can make you feel full faster than you normally would when eating, which often means you'll eat less. One reason why may be that the intragastric balloon slows down the time it takes to empty the stomach. Another reason may be that the balloon seems to change levels of hormones that control appetite.

The amount of weight you lose also depends on how much you can change your lifestyle habits, including diet and exercise.

Based on a summary of currently available treatments, loss of about 12% to 40% of body weight is typical during the six months after intragastric balloon placement.

As with other procedures and surgeries that lead to significant weight loss, the intragastric balloon may help improve or resolve conditions often related to being overweight, including:

  • Heart disease.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol levels.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Joint pain caused by osteoarthritis.
  • Skin conditions, including psoriasis and acanthosis nigricans, a skin condition that causes a dark discoloration in body folds and creases.

When weight-loss procedures don't work

It's possible to not lose significant weight or to regain weight after any type of weight-loss procedure or surgery, even if the procedure itself works correctly. This weight gain can happen if you don't follow the recommended lifestyle changes. Permanent healthy changes in your diet, along with regular physical activity and exercise, are necessary to avoid regaining weight.