Round about 2 billion adults (39% of the world population) are significantly overweight according to the World Health Organization. About 500 million of them suffer from type II diabetes, and almost all – from fatty liver disease. They aren’t able of regulating their weight by changing a way of life, nutrition, exercises and medications for a variety of reasons.

Metabolic surgery, better known as Bariatrics, which is surgical treatment of patients having the body mass index (BMI) higher than 35 kg/m2, has proven to be highly effective in such cases. Intragastric Balloons, designed to reduce body weight, are installed temporarily prior to surgery (for 6 months) in patients with severe obesity (BMI over 40 kg/m2) and comorbidities as diabetes or hypertension in order to lower the risk of complications of bariatric surgery.

This minimally invasive procedure takes up to 30 minutes and is suggested for all those who’s seeking to quickly get rid of class I obesity (with the BMI lower than 30) and, concurrently, of diseases that result from being overweight. This procedure is performed on an empty stomach under anesthesia, typically in outpatient departments.

The action principle of Intragastric Balloons designed for weight loss

Intragastric Balloons (IGB) are silicone balloon-like containers, resistant to hydrochloric acid, which is released in the stomach. When inflated, they are inserted orally into the esophagus using an endoscope and installed in the gastric cavity, then filled with a special liquid – typically normal saline. Six months later they are removed with the same endoscope.

Occupying a significant volume inside the stomach, the balloons designed for weight loss physically prevent overeating ability. Additionally, they irritate baroreceptors of the stomach, activating the human autonomic nervous system. As time goes by, eating behavior changes as far as the body gets used to small portions of food. The small amount of food consequently brings the rapid sense of satiety. A patient eats far less not sensing discomfort or hunger, and loses weight – 6-12 kg averagely every six months. At the same time, those diseases, provoked by obesity do not progress, while new ones do not develop.

Andrian Reitis` comment

PhD in Medicine,
Chief Surgeon of the Center for Metabolic Surgery

It’s not worth the trouble that the integrity of a balloon inside the stomach may be broken. It’s made of hard materials, resistant to the pH of gastric acid. A balloon may burst. Even if a balloon ruptures, which is extremely rare occurrence, it will be excreted biologically with feces. The only drawback is that a patient won’t guess immediately that the restrictive effect, mediated by the intragastric balloon no longer works. He/she will consume large portions of food again and gain weight.

It may also happen that a microhole will appear in the balloon, for example, from a fish bone, which was accidentally swallowed. A patient may find out about the broken integrity of the balloon and notice fluid leakage according to a change in the color of urine – it becomes blue. A balloon filler is intentionally colored with a harmless dye.

After treating obesity by installing intragastric balloons, patients should strictly adhere to general recommendations – it’s physical activity, balanced low-calorie diet and good sleep. Otherwise, recurrent excess weight gain won’t be avoided.

However, it’s critical to understand that: balloons for weight loss are an intermediate stage in obesity treatment, which doesn’t guarantee the ultimate decision on the problem, if a patient won’t be intent on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet.

Surgical technique benefits & drawbacks, contraindications




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Andrian Ostapovych Reiti

PhD in Medical Science, Chief Surgeon at the Metabolic Surgery Center

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