Balloons and the Future of Weight Loss Surgery


The gastric balloon was developed about three decades ago. Unfortunately, it was highly unsuccessful with very serious complications taking place. As a result, it was taken off the market in this country, although scientists in Europe continued to develop it further. Over the past two decades, a number of gastric balloons have been developed and have successfully treated people across Europe. This includes the ReShape gastric balloon, which is one of the devices that has recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Let’s take a closer look at the concept of gastric balloons.

The Concept of the Gastric Balloon

A lot of modern balloon treatments and other surgical options share a common goal: filling up the stomach so that people feel less hungry and eat less as well. Hence, the balloon as a concept is very similar to that of the gastric band or other established surgical procedures. The difference is, however, that the balloon is minimally invasive, which means there is less trauma and a much quicker recover time. Very simply put, it means a balloon is inserted into the stomach through an endoscopy. Let’s take a look at some of the balloons that are gaining in popularity right now.

  1. The ReShape Duo

The ReShape is unique because it is actually a double balloon. It is inserted into the stomach and filled with saline, after which it is left in place for six months. Some intervention is required to put it in place, but it has so far had very positive results. It does, however, come with some short lived side effects such as nausea.

  1. The Gelesis100

The Gelesis100 is a pill that contains particles made up of ingredients found in standard food products. These particles absorb the water inside the stomach, expanding and making someone feel full. They also mix with food that is consumed, thereby reducing how much comes out of the stomach.

  1. The Elipse Balloon

This is not a new device, but one that has been improved over the years. Essentially, the manufacturer aims to develop a balloon that can be inserted and removed without using an endoscopy, thereby further enhancing comfort and decreasing the risk of complications. At present, people swallow a pill with a tube attached to it, and the tube is then used to fill the balloon with saline, after which it is extracted. So far, promising results have been noted.

  1. The Obalon Baloon

This is quite similar in process to the Elipse, in as such that it starts by swallowing a pill. Once dissolved, it releases a balloon and a minuscule tube that is attached to it is then used to inflate it. The tube is then removed, and several balloons can be inserted in the same way. Preliminary results are promising.

While many balloons are currently still being tested rather than being available, it does look like they represent the future of gastric surgery, and a lifeline for people who are overweight or obese.