ORBERA® Intragastric Balloon

The ORBERA® Intragastric Balloon System is a weight-loss system that uses a gastric balloon to occupy space in the stomach. The balloon is placed into the stomach through the mouth, using a minimally-invasive endoscopic procedure, while the patient is under mild sedation. Once in place, the balloon is filled with salt water (saline) so that it expands into a spherical shape. The balloon can be filled with different amounts of saline to best match the patient's body structure.

The balloon device is used in adult patients who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 30-40, and who have been unable to lose weight through diet and exercise. It is intended to be used while a patient participates in a diet and exercise plan supervised by a health care provider. The balloon works by taking up space in the stomach, helping a patient feel full more quickly. It is a temporary system and should be removed after 6 months.

How much weight do patients lose?

During clinical trials, patients who underwent the procedure lost an average of 21.8 pounds (10.2% of their body weight) after the device had been in place for six months. Three months after the device was removed (9 months after device placement), patients who received the device maintained an average of 19.4 pounds weight loss. The 130 patients who participated in the behavior modification program, but did not receive the device, lost an average of 7.0 pounds (3.3% of their body weight).

Watch Dr. Matthew Brengman Discuss the Intragastric Balloon >>

Understanding the Intragastric Balloon Process

ORBERA® is a 12-month weight loss and healthy lifestyle program. For the first six months of the program a gastric balloon is placed in your stomach to help with portion control. This will help you to learn healthy portion control methods while your body adapts to your new lifestyle.

The first consultation with your doctor will involve discussions about:

  • Your medical history
  • Your previous attempts at losing weight
  • Your personal goals
  • Your commitment to the program
  • How comfortable you feel about the whole process which is an important part of the journey.

Once you have decided to move forward, your doctor will schedule a date for your procedure. You will also then begin meeting with your clinical support team, learning the principles that will become the basis of your success.

illustrations showing a balloon being inserted through a patient's mouth and inflated in their stomach

On the day of the procedure, your team will prepare you for the endoscopic placement of the intragastric balloon. The procedure takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes, after which patients are monitored by specialist nursing staff in recovery.

You will be lightly sedated while the deflated intragastric balloon is inserted into your stomach through your mouth. Immediately following the placement of the intragastric balloon, it is filled with sterile saline.

Soon after this you will regain complete awareness. You will remain in the clinic for observation usually for a minimum of 2 hours or until the doctor discharges you into the custody of the person who will take you home.

This is generally an uncomplicated process. Nevertheless, over the first few days after the procedure you may experience gastric discomfort, nausea, and vomiting as the digestive system adjusts to the presence of the intragastric balloon.

As with any medical procedure, you need to remain alert to any possible complications. You doctor will advise you of possible issues.

Some important things to organize beforehand are:

  • Arrange to have someone with you when you return home from clinic.
  • No solid foods or liquids 12 hours prior to the procedure.
  • Stock your kitchen with the necessary post-procedure foods and liquids as instructed by your dietician.
  • Plan for at least 48-72 hours of inactivity after the procedure.

Recovery and Liquid-Only Diet

In the first few days following the procedure you may feel uncomfortable as the stomach gets used to the presence of the intragastric balloon.

Predictable side effects most patients experience include nausea, vomiting and gastric discomfort over the first week. These symptoms can be managed by the medications provided by your doctor. These conditions are normal and should be expected.

Your doctor will provide strict instructions for your hydration regimen during this period. It is critical that you drink plenty of water during the first few days and avoid eating any solid foods.

You'll be restricted to a liquid diet for the first three days, which might include:

  • Juices
  • Milk
  • Thin soups or broths
  • Gelatins

The following foods will need to be avoided:

  • Coffee
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Fatty foods
  • Chocolate
  • Ice cream

Moving to Solid Foods

After a few days on a liquid diet you'll be ready to begin the transition to solid foods. You will start with semi-solids and gradually move to fully solid foods.

How quickly you make this transition will depend on your progress and how well your body is tolerating the liquids. It's important to make the transition slowly and not try to rush the adjustment process.

Patients can start exercising under the advice from their doctor and support team, as soon as they feel well enough. This is usually about two weeks after their procedure.

Important things to remember for exercising:

  • Don't engage in any physical activity for the first 24-48 hours.
  • Drink cold liquids in small amounts, beginning with a teaspoon, and slowly increase the amount of the liquid as you are able. If liquid is taken in large amounts there is a higher risk of nausea and vomiting.
  • Your clinic will be on call for the first 24 hours or provide you with an emergency contact to handle any reactions or distress you may encounter.

During the six month period that the intragastric balloon is in place you will meet regularly with your team to monitor your progress and receive education and training. These important educational aspects of the program involve the nutrition and lifestyle changes that you must follow in order to achieve long-term success.

Most weight is lost in the first three months, but because the gastric balloon stays in for six months, you will learn the right amount of food to eat to maintain your new weight. Your regular meetings with the support team will continue for six months after the intragastric balloon is removed.

Removal of the intragastric balloon takes around 20-30 minutes, similar to when it was inserted. During the removal procedure, you will be sedated and your doctor will remove the sterile salt water from the intragastric balloon before removing the deflated balloon from your stomach. It's very important that you continue seeing your support team on a regular basis during this final six months of the program as this will set the foundations for the future.

You'll need to prepare for removal of the intragastric balloon with:

  • No solid food 24 hours prior to the procedure.
  • No liquids 12 hours prior to the procedure.
  • Arrange to have assistance when you return home from the clinic.

Get Started Today!

If the Intragastric Balloon procedure seems like something that would fit your needs and lifestyle, please call our practice at (804) 360-0600 to get started. Our physicians are the most experienced in Central Virginia with weight loss procedures, and routinely voted as the best in the region by a panel of their peers.

Dr. Matthew Brengman was one of ten surgeons in the country approved to handle initial placements of the ORBERA Intragastric Balloon system. He was the first in the mid-Atlantic region to perform the non-incisional procedure.