Gastric balloon recovery time: duration, what to expect, and tips!

Gastric balloon recovery is easy to cope with as the procedure itself is non-invasive. Post-op life changes and you need to follow the new lifestyle interventions starting with diet to mobility and upcoming visits. The positive plot twist is that the gastric balloon recovery time is much less if you undergo more complex bariatric surgeries.

Also, there is the expectancy of dealing with post-op potential side effects and ways to tackle it occurred based on your personal experience. However it’s normal to occur and preventable, your doctor shall give you the proper way to deal with the situation. Let’s talk about it thoroughly and what surrounds the gastric balloon recovery and what to expect during that time.

How long does the recovery process last?

In four weeks total you can complete your gastric balloon recovery, which means both food stages and healing periods have shorter time compared to any other bariatric operation.

During the intragastric balloon recovery period, you will simply follow a diet stage program and physical activity, and periodically both of them accelerate to the next level. The consistency of physical activity and proper way of eating in terms of portion, nutrition, and thorough chewing should always be self-monitored.

What to expect after a gastric balloon surgery

As with any other bariatric approach for weight loss, there is recovery time but what is expecting you after gastric balloon surgery? The recovery time includes lifestyle changes which include food stages, dealing with side effects, and physical activity.

Your doctor will give you a heads-up for everything you need with plans and guidelines for food and exercise plans. Diet-wise, it changes from day one after the operation but mobility and exercise habits take a few days to begin. In terms of side effects, your doctor will give you prescriptions for meds for you to be able to be coping with the side effects.

Let’s talk about the recovery changes to be expected from a general POV.

Dietary changes and exercise routine

From a general point of view, you have a conversion to a diet plan and exercise program with gradual upgrades periodically for more body mass reduction. That’s to ensure a safe recovery and prevent potential symptoms in any shape or form. 

Here are the standard and common conversions you may have in order to maintain successful gastric balloon recovery time:

In the first 3-7 days

You will follow a liquid diet such as water, broth, etc. but nothing refined sugar or carbohydrates. This is for the balloon to settle in and also for your body to be able to adapt to a foreign object.

Exercise habits, on the other hand, you should start to slow, walking and light cardio will be enough in that period of time. Also, you do not have to put pressure on yourself, everything has its own time and place.

In the 2nd-3rd week

During this period, your stomach is able to handle pureed and soft food. You can even have mushed-boiled eggs, cooked veggies, etc. Just remember to have protein in your daily meals and prevent heavy seasonings or hot food to avoid gastric discomfort.

Also, you can add to your exercise regimen by building some muscle mass with weights, but you should not force heavy lifting right away.

After 4th week

You can finally transition to solid food with rich protein and fiber and nutritional for your body. You can eat fish, chicken, and meat with veggies or grains next to it but with portion control to prevent overeating.

Exercise-wise, you can try cardiovascular exercises such as treadmills and swimming which are great for burning fat and building muscle mass.

In gastric balloon recovery time, hydration and thorough chewing are essential for digestion and to promote excess fat weight loss and long-term success.

Coping with side effects

It is normal for gastric balloon patients to face some inconvenience but it is something you can expect after balloon placement. However, coping with side effects is not something to worry about because it barely lasts more than 2 days max and the discomfort is quite minimal. Here are some side effects you may experience:

Nausea: You need to stay hydrated all the time and also eat food that is easily digestible, especially in the early days. Prevent greasy, and also lying on on sofa or bed right after eating because it can be responsive and even feel vomiting.

Abdominal discomfort: Due to the foreign object in the stomach, it will take time for you to adapt to it. You cope with the balloon in the early days with pain medications to reduce or eliminate the discomfort. 

Acid reflux: This issue may not occur in your experience, but if so, it is due to pressure in the stomach or food habits. This causes the released acid to flow back to the esophagus which causes heartburn. In that case, confront your healthcare provider for medications if needed.

There are limitations to the side effects and they might happen in a short period of time. The most common abdominal discomforts are nausea, vomiting, and also acid reflux which is situational and avoidable.

Can you take medications?

You can take medications during recovery, and the ideal time is to take meds only during that period of time. It is basically to overcome the side effects or any sort of aching if existing, and it won’t be more than 10 days approximately. The meds are for acid reflux, stomach pain, or anti-nausea medicines, but in rare cases, the meds are until balloon removal if the acid issue is chronic or constant.

However, can you take medication such as effervescent or powder form that is mixed with water? It is best to prevent fizzy and gassy intakes even if they are medications because they may interrupt the balloon negatively from many angles such as:

  • Abdominal discomfort and pressure.
  • Medication’s inefficient absorption.
  • Risk of damaging the balloon itself and causing deflation before its due time.

In conclusion, can you take medications during gastric balloon recovery time? To ensure the safety of the intragastric balloon and your health before anything else, ask your doctor if the meds you may purchase are safe to take. That is if the meds are not prescripted by your doctor in the first place.

How to sleep after your balloon surgery

You should sleep in a way that would prevent any abdominal pressure like sleeping on your tummy. Instead, sleep on your back or your side, doesn’t matter left or right but it will keep you and the balloon safe. You can also try sleeping whilst your upper body is slightly elevated on a bendable sofa or an extra pillow on your bed placed under your head. 

The experience differs from one patient to another and either position will keep the balloon safe and also prevent complications such as acid reflux. In conclusion, you will have a resting and uninterrupted sleep at night.

If nothing works for you, it’s best to consult your doctor ASAP, they will figure out how to sleep after your balloon surgery based on the root of the issue. There might be problems with positioning during sleeping time unless the acid reflux problem was stubborn, then medications come in hand to hold it back.

Is the surgery recovery process and removal recovery process similar?

Surgical recovery and removal recovery have similarities in terms of having stages to transitioning food choices, tracking symptoms, and follow-up visits. However, they all differ in terms of actions taken, let’s see how they apart from each other:

Initially, the recovery and overcoming the side effects that may occur for both recoveries and they are typically feeling nauseous, vomiting, cramps, etc. However, the symptoms of the removal recovery are more easygoing than surgical recovery.

The transition to regular food and evaluation of tolerance periodically changes. Recovery time has the same stages but it is possible to move to regular food in less than a week after balloon removal. That of course if there were no issues with food toleration and digestion. Whereas surgical recovery takes a few weeks to be able to have a regular diet. On the backside of the removal, your stomach will have an empty void meaning that you will be feeling hungry again.

Finally, the monitoring and follow-up visits are important yet the reasons differ because surgical recovery relates to excess weight loss progress in most cases. Whereas balloon removal follow-up visits are essential for monitoring overall health, food intake, portion control, and more. 

Kramer FM, Stunkard AJ, Spiegel TA, et al. Limited Weight Losses With a Gastric Balloon. Arch Intern Med. 1989;149(2):411–413. doi:10.1001/archinte.1989.00390020113024

Machytka, E., Chuttani, R., Bojkova, M. et al. Elipse™, a Procedureless Gastric Balloon for Weight Loss: a Proof-of-Concept Pilot Study. OBES SURG 26, 512–516 (2016).

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