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What is the swallowable Gastric ‘Pill’ balloon?

Traditionally a gastric balloon has to be placed and removed with an endoscopic medical procedure requiring anaesthesia. The Gastric ‘Pill’ balloon is a gastric balloon that is swallowed and, months later, naturally excreted*. The dissolvable gastric balloon is typically placed during an outpatient visit.

Is a swallowable Gastric ‘Pill’ balloon right for me?

If your Body Mass Index (BMI) score is over 27, the dissolvable gastric balloon may help you to achieve long-term weight loss, and the management of other medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

The swallowable gastric balloon procedure may be particularly useful for people considered too overweight to undergo vital surgery. The use of the balloon to successfully reduce weight prior to surgery can also help to reduce the risks associated with surgical procedures on overweight patients. Your consultant will confirm your BMI score and carry out a detailed assessment, before deciding if a gastric balloon is suitable for you.

How much weight can I lose with the swallowable Gastric ‘Pill’ balloon?

Studies have shown, with the help of the dissolvable gastric balloon participants lose an average of 20-50% of their excess weight1.

1 Raftopoulos and Giannakou, 2017, in press in SOARD

The benefits of a Swallowable Gastric ‘Pill’ balloon

If the gastric balloon operation is successful, you should be able to achieve long-term weight loss, however this is dependent on your ability to keep to your new lifestyle. Through the  swallowable gastric balloon programme you will receive support by:

  • Ongoing support from your dietician for the duration of the programme
  • At the beginning of the programme, you’ll get a “smart” scale and mobile app which connects you with your dietician, tracking your progress
  • SMS messaging from your care team provides real-time advice and support that helps you stay on track

Long-term weight loss should improve any obesity-related health problems too, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Mobility
  • Self-esteem

However for most people the attraction of having the dissolvable gastric balloon is that it does not involve surgery and it can be done in an outpatient’s appointment, meaning a minimal interruption to daily life. 

Are there any alternatives to Gastric ‘Pill’ balloon?

There are other surgical options available, such as a traditional gastric balloon, sleeve gastrectomy, a gastric bypass or a gastric band. All of these options (apart from the gastric balloon) are major surgical procedures that normally involve a hospital stay, recovery in the more invasive procedures are also usually slower. A Gastric ‘Pill’ balloon has fewer complications in installation and there is a lower risk of serious complications.

What does the Gastric ‘Pill’ balloon procedure involve?

Gastric balloon installation

The balloon system consists of a soft, expandable balloon, a placement tube and a filling system.

  • During a 20-minute outpatient visit, you will swallow a capsule that contains the deflated balloon along with a thin tube.
  • Once the capsule has entered your stomach, your consultant will use the tube to fill the balloon with 550 ml of water with water.
  • Once the balloon is filled, your consultant will gently remove the tube—and you’ll be on your way.

Is the balloon easy to swallow?

Most people are able to swallow the balloon without issue. People who do have difficulty swallowing it can be assisted by their consultant, who will guide the balloon into place, without endoscopy or anesthesia.

How long does it take to return to normal activities after placement?

Most people are able to return to normal activity within a day or two, but some people experience nausea, abdominal cramping, and occasionally vomiting after balloon placement. In most cases, these symptoms are well-controlled with the standard medications prescribed by your consultant.

Will I have any dietary restrictions during or after the programme?

There are no dietary restrictions with the dissolvable gastric balloon. However, to maximise weight loss and optimise comfort, your dietitian will make recommendations that are best tailored to you, your body, and your goals.

How long Is the Gastric ‘Pill’ balloon left in place?

The Gastric ‘Pill’ balloon is in place for 16 weeks.

Swallowable gastric balloon removal

After approximately 16 weeks inside your stomach, a time-activated release valve on the balloon will open, allowing it to empty and pass naturally through the gastrointestinal tract without the need for a removal procedure*.

* In rare cases, the Gastric ‘Pill’ balloon may require endoscopic or surgical intervention for removal. Talk to your doctor today to find out if the Elipse Programme is right for you.

What are the possible side-effects after Gastric ‘Pill’ balloon placement?

Some people experience nausea, abdominal cramping, and occasional vomiting after balloon placement. In most cases, these symptoms are well-controlled with the standard medications prescribed by the physician. 

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