Swallowable intragastric balloons: How far are the claims true?
Excess weight, or obesity, is one of the major health concerns around the world. Obesity can be caused by a combination of elements, which include genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors, along with a poor diet, insufficient physical activity, and other socioeconomic factors. People who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of serious health conditions compared to people with healthy weight.
However, one can lose extra weight with the help of available weight-loss procedures.
‘Swallowable intragastric balloon’ is one of the new non-surgical weight loss procedures designed in a unique way that aids in weight loss. Generally, IGB is suggested for people whose BMI is between 28 and 33 and who are unable to lose weight through lifestyle modifications. However, people with a BMI greater than 32.5 and those who are afraid of surgery can also opt for an intragastric balloon procedure.
In this procedure, the person who wishes to lose weight needs to swallow a pill along with a thin tube, which consists of a soft, expandable balloon. Once the pill reaches its position, it is inflated with gas or saline water.
The balloon takes up some space in the stomach, which makes you feel fuller faster and reduces food intake. After a certain period, the balloon dissolves on its own and flushes out. It is one of the safest and most effective weight-loss procedures, as excess weight is reduced by restricting the food you consume. It does not affect the hormones that control your body fat. So it is very inferior compared to bariatric surgeries.
Weight Loss Claims
IGB, along with certain lifestyle modifications, claims to shed 5–10% of excess body weight. For better outcomes, experts may suggest oral semaglutide (Rybelsus), an FDA-approved product for weight loss. On average, 5 to 15 kg of weight can be lost with IGB. Some people have lost more than 30 kg of their excess. The amount of weight lost varies from person to person.
Swallowable intragastric balloons are very effective for short-term weight loss. IGB, along with a controlled diet and lifestyle changes, patients can achieve far better results
Here are some important factors to be considered:
IGBs are designed in a way to achieve weight loss in a short period of time (usually six to eight months). As discussed above, every individual can’t achieve the same amount of weight loss during this time.
Every individual who wishes to lose weight may not be suitable for an intragastric balloon procedure. So patient selection is an important factor in the success of IGB. People who are moderately obese and fail to lose weight by trying traditional weight-loss procedures might be more appropriate candidates.
Possible side effects
Intragastric balloon insertion can result in mild, manageable side effects such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and bloating, just like many other surgical procedures. Serious complications are rare.
The best weight loss results achieved through intragastric balloon therapy are often interlinked with lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and regular physical activity. IGB might not be a standard long-term weight-loss solution.
Different countries have different rules about intragastric balloons. Moreover, some types of IGBs don’t have approval from regulatory organizations, as they are undergoing clinical trials or awaiting for approval.
If you are overweight and looking for the best weight loss solutions, consider consulting an experienced weight loss surgeon, like Dr. Venugopal Pareek, one of the best weight loss surgeons in Hyderabad with nearly two decades of experience. He is an expert in administering intragastric balloon therapy, as he is the best bariatric specialist in Hyderabad. He can help you understand the potential benefits, risks, and suitability of the procedure depending on your regular health and circumstances.