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Intra-Gastric Balloon

What is an intra-gastric balloon?

The placement of an intra gastric balloon (IGB) is a non-surgical (that is, no incisions are required) and temporary alternative to other bariatric procedures, and is suitable for people who would be classified as borderline obese, that is with a BMI of between 27 and 35.

The balloon itself is a soft medical device that is inflated once it is positioned inside the stomach via the mouth and oesophagus using an endoscope.

How does it work?

The device works by reducing the capacity of the stomach, which in turn reduces hunger levels and food intake. It is generally only left in place for six months and is then removed.

How successful is the procedure?

People who have had an intra gastric balloon can expect to lose 10-30kg in weight over the six-month period.

How should I prepare for the procedure?

  • Follow a soft solid diet for 48 hours before the procedure.
  • No solid food after midnight the night before the procedure.
  • Take any medication (with a sip of water) until 4 hours before the procedure.

Let Dr Silverman's team know what medications you are taking and they will be able to advise you what to do ahead of the procedure.

What is involved in the procedure?

Unlike surgical bariatric procedures, the insertion of an intra gastric balloon is performed under 'twilight' sedation where the patient remains conscious. It generally takes no longer than 20 minutes to complete and the patient is normally able to return home on the same day.

The balloon is guided down to the stomach via the mouth using an endoscope equipped with a small light and a miniature video camera, so the surgeon can guide it into place. Once it is in the correct position it is inflated to the correct size with 500-750ml of sterile saline solution.

Guidance after the procedure

You will need to stay at the clinic under observation for one or two hours.

After the procedure you will still be affected by the anaesthetic. This may temporarily cause the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Short term memory loss.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Sore throat.
  • Pain.

This is why it is very important that you do not undertake any of the following during the 24-hour period after the procedure:

  • Drive (you must have someone available to drive you home after the procedure).
  • Operate dangerous machinery.
  • Drink any alcohol.
  • Sign any legal documents.
  • Make any important decisions.

Side Effects

The three main side effects to be aware of after the intra gastric balloon has been fitted are:

Bad breath

This is relatively common and can be treated by drinking only clear fluids (including fizzy drinks such as carbonated water or ginger beer) during a 24-hour period. This allows the food in the stomach - the source of the odour - to pass through.


This can generally be controlled by making sure that food portion sizes are smaller. Medication, or changes to medication may be needed. Check this page on acid reflux for more guidance on how to deal with reflux

Movement of balloon

Referred to as 'balloon migration', this is where the device shifts out of position, which can cause feelings of cramping in the stomach. One tip to prevent this happening and help the balloon move back into the correct position is to sleep on your left side. Dr Silverman is able to give more detailed advice on how to ensure the balloon is able to move back into the correct position.

Risks / complications

There are risks associated with all medical procedures, including intra-gastric balloon fitting, related to anaesthesia and bleeding during the procedure.

The risks / complications specific to this procedure include:

  • Injury during balloon insertion or removal (e.g. perforation / bleeding).
  • Leakage / deflation of the balloon.
  • Discomfort / vomiting within 24-48 hours of fitting.

Dr Silverman will be able to discuss any possible risks or complications with you well ahead of the procedure.