Gastric balloon pros and cons: 12 matters to consider

Before deciding on a treatment knowing its benefits and drawbacks plays an important role. Do they balance each other? Or is it possible to eliminate the cons? This journey will represent the important gastric balloon pros and cons that are useful for you. Also, this will help you to keep up the advantages and turn the cons into positive impacts through actions you can take as a lifestyle. Your lifestyle simply changes and must convert to a better version of yourself so you will avoid weight regain in the long run.

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of gastric balloons in depth.

gastric balloon pros and cons

6 pros of the gastric balloon

This intragastric device has many positive impacts that are meant to help obese patients lose weight with non-invasive surgery. You may not be unconscious but the benefits of gastric balloon vary in terms of: 

  • The surgery is done under sedation
  • More budget-friendly than other bariatric surgeries
  • It’s not permanent
  • Easy to be eligible for the surgery
  • The operation is easy and quickly done
  • It does not require a hospital stay

Gastric balloon benefits are far more guaranteed than the back side of it because you can follow your doctor’s guidelines pre and post-op. That way you promote gastric balloon pros in higher possibility and keep the cons locked in the basement.

The surgery is done under sedation

One of the positive sides of undergoing gastric balloons is that you’re under sedation to a degree. Any gastric balloon types require it because it is done while you’re awake and conscious, the main reason for it is to help both you and your doctor to cooperate. On the one hand, you will not feel discomfort, pain, or feeling like gaging which may cause any sudden movement.

Accordingly, you will be less tensioned and more relaxed whilst having the tube passed straight to your stomach without any risk of esophageal perforation.

More budget-friendly than other bariatric surgeries

This medical device is very budget-friendly compared to other more invasive options for weight loss procedures. Although it may be less effective in the long run you still have the chance to lose 30% of your body mass but also save thousands of dollars. 

Speaking of saving thousands, you can visit some countries that are known for their medical tourism that serves high quality at more affordable prices. Medical tourism has package-priced deals that cover many aspects of anything that would affect the operation. That also may include extra services based on your needs in a foreign country in general. 

It's not permanent

As you should know, there is a limited period of time for the balloon device and each type has a different duration. You can visit your doctor for the balloon removal anytime other than its expiration estimated date. There are also types where it could simply be gone naturally which doesn’t need an extra visit to the doctor.

Additionally, it can be removed before the time is up in causes of discomfort, inadequate weight loss despite the guideline follow-up, or having personal preferences. Either way, if you visit your doctor for an additional reason for balloon removal, they shall help you according to your situation or fix the situation without a removal.

Easy to be eligible for the surgery

The eligibility and qualification for the gastric balloon procedure and it doesn’t require major things. All you need to be above 18, have a BMI of 27 or more and be in good health condition where you don’t have problems or surgeries done in your stomach or esophageal region.

Other than that, you will undergo some physical examinations to check your blood pressure, allergies diagnosis, and intestine satiety if there is any bleeding issue. Other than those tests, you will be also evaluated by your psychiatrist, mental satiety is also important.

The psychological team wants to make sure that you are ready for the surgery and the process. If you’re having problems, it doesn’t mean you’re automatically disqualified. Your healthcare team will help you overcome your problems until you feel comfortable about your decision. The help comes in different shapes and forms, but mostly it’s therapy sessions or support groups so you can share the experience with others.

The operation is easy and quickly done

The operation takes 20-40 minutes to have the balloon placed and inflated in your stomach. Also, you are under drug effects which helps the process to become easier.

Other than that, once you recover from the drug effect, you can go back home by yourself. However, it is better to accompany a family member to a friend to stand by. That way you can be taken care of and sent back home ASAP. Other than that, you need to relax and take it slow for a day or two until you finally go back to your daily activities.

It does not require a hospital stay

The best part of an intragastric balloon is that it’s rare to stay for 24 hours in the hospital, you are most likely to be discharged after an hour after the procedure. It is best to bring a close friend or a family member aside with you to take you home afterward safe and sound in case of sedation leftover affection.

Unless there is some sort of complication that may be faced during the intragastric balloon procedure, then you might stay for a while. Even still, that case is unlikely to happen because the approach for this operation is minimally invasive. 

6 cons of the gastric balloon

Gastric balloon cons may vary based on either rare cases that you might have such as balloon intolerance or side effects. Other than that the disadvantages are situational yet manageable with monitoring and adjustments before it’s too late. 

The disadvantages of gastric balloon are related to post-op dietary consistency because there is a chance of weight gain after balloon removal. Other than that, it gives insignificant weight loss results compared to surgeries that involve rearrangement in the stomach and intestines such as gastric sleeve or gastric bypass. Also, it takes too much time to lose a fraction of your weight, you might need different approaches for weight loss if you want to lose a large amount of body weight.

You may not tolerate the balloon

There are many reasons for bariatric patients to be intolerant yet it is unlikely to happen in most cases. The unacceptance would be due to:

Allergic reaction: Your body might not be happy with a foreign item and it may cause visible affectations on the skin like rash, chest pain, or shortness of breath. 

Severe discomfort: It could be pain that doesn’t fade away or chronic nausea or vomiting after every bite of food. it could also come in the form of acid reflux or heartburn, this could be related if you have a history of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Mental acceptance: Some people may reject the idea of having a device inside their body and its act of discomfort and anxiety. This may affect you emotionally and repel the idea of having it.

You may not tolerate the balloon but your healthcare team can find a way to find the roots of the problem and fix it in their own ways either verbally or medically. There is always a solution to accomplishing weight loss goals with total acceptance, all it needs is understanding and cooperation between patient and doctor.

You may face some side effects

You may face some side effects when you undergo gastric balloon for weight loss. The main difference between them is that side effects are temporal and not severe. You may face complications such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea 
  • Bowel changes
  • Abdominal discomfort

Usually, your doctor will try to counter the risk of complications to a minimum in keeping the treatment safe and sound. Just keep in mind those problems are expected yet uncommon to happen because those will be prevented with meds if needed.

You need to follow a post-op diet

After the gastric balloon device is installed in your stomach, you need to follow a post-op diet as your doctor suggests. Therefore you will need to monitor your food intake which may be challenging for some people and intimidating.

There is a lot of work and limitations in portions of food and having to follow food stages like diet, soft food, and only then transit to regular food. Even when you go back to solid food, make sure you’re getting the number of macros you should be getting to prevent weight gain in the future. Keep on the weight loss plan diet-wise as a routine in life to stay healthier from a general point of view. 

Weight loss percentage is low compared to other bariatric surgeries

The gastric balloon is non-invasive compared to weight loss surgeries but it is aimed at patients who don’t prefer surgical approaches. Also, gastric balloon operation is a better option if your BMI is between 27-30.

Technically, you lose more weight if you have a high body max index. This doesn’t mean that balloon operation will not give you the same effect as invasive bariatric surgeries. You can lose up to 30% of your weight in a year of balloon experience. In other words, with balloon operation, you can manage to get your achieved weight loss goal. A low percentage doesn’t mean losing less weight.

Regarding your BMI and your health condition, your healthcare provider will lead you to the best option for you.

You need to be patient to achieve your weight loss goal

The journey to lose weight doesn’t give rapid weight loss effects like surgical interventions. The balloon lacks taking role in metabolic and digesting system manipulation therefore your consumption is not as crucially strict as sleeve or bypass surgery. 

The stomach balloon only helps to limit your food intake, and with low-calorie diet is your only choice which needs dedication and consistency. That also needs to be a continuance even after when the balloon therapy ends whether it’s a 6-month or 1-year procedure.

You may gain weight after balloon removal

Once the balloon is removed, you’re still consistently on a healthy diet with an exercise regimen on daily bases, otherwise, you’re at risk of weight gain again. Your gastric capacity is shrunk during the procedure, when it is removed there is going to be a gap that your body might ask for fulfilling again. 

That’s why there is a possibility of weight gain after balloon removal. At that point, you need to continue with your diet and exercises. After removal, seek advice from your doctor or dietitian to prevent weight gain will be a good option to consider. That way you shall prevent weight regain and also keep the exercise program active in the long run with motivation and dedication. That way you will benefit from gastric balloon pros and cons will be prevented far away.

How do I know if the gastric balloon is the right option for me?

There are requirements for every kind of bariatric procedure, and you should match them to be eligible, but how do I know if the gastric balloon is the right option for me? Talk to your doctor and discuss if it is the best approach for you based on your overall health data from the past to the present. To have the answer to that, you should be examined thoroughly to sit down on the predictions and outcomes of it.

Being qualified is not complicated as other surgical procedures, however, it aims for temporal solutions with lower percentages of body weight loss than others. Therefore, the answer is based on how much weight you want to lose and if you do not want to have major surgeries such as a gastric sleeve or bypass.

If you have further questions about this manner, it is best to consult a healthcare provider to give more details based on your background and goals.

Per Björklund, Lars Fändriks, The pros and cons of gastric bypass surgery – The role of the Roux-limb, Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology, Volumes 40–41, 2019, 101638, ISSN 1521-6918,

Laing P, Pham T, Taylor LJ, Fang J. Filling the Void: A Review of Intragastric Balloons for Obesity. Dig Dis Sci. 2017;62(6):1399-1408. doi:10.1007/s10620-017-4566-2

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