Gastric balloon vs gastric band: finding the perfect fit for you

There are many roots to follow for weight loss solutions for you whether it’s a gastric band or balloon. Generally, the reason for having alternative excess body weight loss surgeries is to find fit candidates based on their conditions, goals and overall improving health best way possible. Gastric balloon vs gastric band is a competitive debate to begin with, each one serves the goals you need but they differ in terms of techniques, goals, requirements, etc. Yet, they have a lot of similarities other than promoting weight loss on a general point.

Let’s figure out what fits your case.

Navigating the best option for you: band or balloon

If you are seeking a great option for weight loss, there are a lot of alternative surgeries but we will focus on gastric balloon vs gastric band. In a nutshell, both are safe operations yet differ in terms of their functionality, severity of the operation, recovery, and more.

The choice must be determined by stating your desired goals and representing them when you consult your doctor. According to your needs, examinations by your doctor will show what is best for you based on your personal case after examining you from many angles. Let’s have a bigger picture and understand each weight loss treatment.

Understanding how they function

Gastric balloon and gastric band way of performing differs completely in all ways yet they serve the same goal for you. The main and most important difference is a gastric band is done laparoscopically and the balloon is done endoscopically. In other words, the band is a surgical procedure, and the balloon is done orally. Let’s go deeper for a better understanding of how they function anatomically:

The adjustable band requires incisions in the abdominal area for tool passage to reach the stomach from the outside. Whereas the case is opposite for the gastric balloon because the operation is inside the stomach, the balloon placement is with a tube passing to the stomach directly.

Since the band is done from outside the stomach, the device looks like a belt, so it is gently wrapped around the upper portion of the stomach. However, the balloon is simply either swallowed in the shape of a compressed capsule or passed with a tube with doctoral assistance. Then it is filled with saline solution or gas.

The severity of the surgery

The severity of the surgery of each balloon and band in terms of invasiveness and need for a hospital stay differs completely. The stomach balloon is a non-surgical operation which makes it less complicated and invasive than the inflatable band. That being said, after balloon placement, there is a high chance to go home the same day, unlike the band where you need a hospital stay for a day.

The gastric band involves incisions on the abdominal area after being under general anesthesia. The surgery is safe and minimally invasive. Gastric balloon, on the other hand, it’s not necessary to be sedated with anesthesia. You might take medications to bare the process because generally it is done whilst you’re conscious. That being said, both operations are safe but due to the simplicity of the balloon, it makes it safer than the band.

Essential criteria

All bariatric surgery procedures have their own essential criteria, although the majority of them have similar requirements, that is because all of them aim to better your health. The eligibility is determined based on your BMI, age, mentality, medical history, and overall health. Let’s see what the criteria for each procedure are:

 Gastric balloonGastric band
Psychological statusStable and awareStable and aware 
Medical historyRelatively healthyObesity-related symptoms

You as a gastric balloon patient are qualified if your BMI is in the range of 30-40. Whereas gastric band qualification point is if you have a 30-34 BMI with obese-related issues or a 35-40 BMI. Age-wise, each one of the surgeries requires you to be above 18 and less than 65. Finally, in terms of mental and physical health, you undergo a psychological and physical evaluation, which includes blood work and commitment check-ups.

Potential downsides

The disadvantages of both bariatric procedures are familiar yet the chances of them happening is very low. Neither the balloon nor the band are invasive weight loss procedures and their simplicity makes them safe, here are the potential downsides of each one:

Potential risk of complications:

Gastric balloonGastric band
Balloon deflationBand erosion
Balloon migrationBand slippage
Balloon intoleranceInfection

Side effects:

Gastric balloonGastric band
Nausea Gastroesophageal reflux
Abdominal discomfort Ulcers 
Digesting problemsBowel obstruction

The risk of side effects and complications for band and balloon procedures are minimal and unlikely to occur. However, there are temporary meds that might be prescripted to you based on your personal experience. Exceptional and rare cases such as acute inflammation or inability to overcome side effects will need immediate medical attention for a solution.

Guidelines for dieting

There are similarities in diet protocol during your recovery time for gastric balloon vs gastric band. The diet transitions from liquids to regular food in a specific period of time, and your experience and type of surgery determine the transitioning periods. It is crucial that you complete all stages of the diet to avoid weight gain and potential side effects or risks.

Here is a general view of gastric balloon vs gastric band guidelines for dieting: 

Clear liquid and full liquid diet

The first stage for balloon patients requires 3 to 7 days of liquid diet and band patients must stay on it for the whole week. The gastric balloon diet can easily transition from different types of fluids from water, and broth to protein shakes. Gastric band liquid diet differs in choice of liquids, heavy liquids such as thickened soups are not the best choice. Start with water, broth, and other nutritious clear liquids in the first 2 days.

Pureed food

This is the second stage for gastric band. The balloon patients do this stage as a combined stage with a soft diet. For balloon, it last for 7 to 8 days. Whereas the band pureed diet is from the 2nd to 3rd week. Your diet mashed food should contain veggies or protein and blended fruits for snacks for both diet plans.

Soft diet

This is the third stage for gastric band which includes soft food. Gastric balloon patients skip this stage and move on to the next one. The transition to a solid diet must be gradual so it won’t upset the stomach with discomfort. This stage is after half a month or 20 days max. It takes a week for a gastric balloon and 2 weeks for a gastric band. This stage includes soft meat, fish, chicken, cereals, cooked vegetables, and fresh fruit.

Regular diet

It is the last stage for both the gastric band and a balloon when you can gradually introduce regular food and increase its variety in your diet. This stage includes indoor and outdoor food, as long the meals contain the nutrients and portions based on the guideline.

Weight loss potential

The debate in weight loss comparison between a gastric balloon vs gastric band is competitive. On an average point, you lose between 30-40% of excess weight after one year of experience in either one of them. Let’s see how they differ on a bigger scale:

There is a different variety of options when comes to intra-gastric balloons in terms of period of use. However, the best option is a 1-year balloon and the weight loss expectancy is 30% at best. Nonetheless, in one year of the gastric band experience, you can lose up to 30-35% of your weight, but the next year’s progress might be slower due to metabolic adaptation throughout the time.

The gastric balloon is a temporary solution for weight loss, you can lose more by having another balloon after the first balloon removal. Gastric band on the hand, one band can be used for 2 years in a row and promote about 50-60% of excess weight loss.

Despite the scenario, a follow-up visit or consultation is essential whether it long term band use or another balloon installation for more weight loss goals.

Reversibility option

There is a chance of a reversibility option for you is valid for either surgery. However, it is very important to be discussed with your doctor for it and list the reasons for it. Despite the reason for the removal whether it’s complication or intolerance, it is a safe approach and doable. 

Gastric balloon reversibility or removal is a 20-25 minutes process and is done endoscopically by deflating the saline solution from the balloon. A gastric band on the other hand is done through laparoscopic surgery and under general anesthesia and involves tools injected into your abdominal wall.

Gastric balloon deflation happens in your stomach before with a tool thorough and it’s part of the removal operation. The solution that comes out of the balloon is not harmful to the stomach and the solution goes out naturally. The reversal or removal of the gastric band is completely different, your doctor will pass tools through the tubes to reach the stomach and inflates the band or detach it.

After the removal operation for both surgeries, your stomach needs time to come back to its normal state and that is through a simple diet and for a short period of time. When it’s a balloon removal you need to follow the diet to avoid abdominal discomfort. In case of band reversal, the diet is needed because the stomach doesn’t go back to its normal state immediately. That is due to the stomach being squeezed or pressed so it needs a short time to stretch back

You should know that reversibility comes with a risk of regaining weight, which is why you need to follow your doctor’s advice post-reversal operation.

The length of your journey

The length of your journey differs completely by comparing the adjustable band to the balloon device. The maximum period for the balloon is 1 year, and the band could last for a lifetime. 

Gastric balloon device has 4-month, 6-month, and 1-year options, and the longer the journey the more weight loss it promotes. Gastric band, on the other hand, is considered a lifetime treatment unless you want to get it removed.

Last step to decide: gastric balloon vs gastric band

We went deep into gastric balloon vs gastric band comparison and so far you may have a little idea of the better option for yourself. However, you should keep in my that with further tests and examinations, your doctor will inform you about the best one for you. Here is a comparison list for a better perspective before your appointment:

Gastric BalloonGastric Band

☑️BMI between 30-40

☑️BMI of more than 30

☑️You don’t have obesity-related problems.

☑️You have obesity-related problems.

☑️You prefer non-invasive options.

☑️You don’t mind minimally invasive options.

☑️You need faster recovery.

☑️You’re determined to follow guidelines during recovery.

☑️You’re aware there are minimal risks and side effects.

☑️You are aware of the risks and possible side effects.

☑️You need to lose 30% of your excess weight.

☑️You need to lose more than 30% of your excess weight.

☑️A reversible solution is better for you.

☑️A permanent solution fits you better.

Seeras K, Acho RJ, Prakash S. Laparoscopic Gastric Band Placement.

O’Brien, P.E., Dixon, J.B., Brown, W. et al. The Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band (Lap-Band®): A Prospective Study of Medium-Term Effects on Weight, Health and Quality of Life. OBES SURG 12, 652–660 (2002)

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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