The gastric balloon: Not just a standard balloon

The concept of inserting a balloon into your stomach in a bid to lose weight was once regarded as almost obscene. In the early days, few people could get their head around it and in some senses, the same confusion exists today.

While the success of the gastric balloon is well and truly understood and people now fully appreciate the procedure and what it does for obesity, the actual mechanisms aren’t. In other words, most of us still don’t understand the balloon phenomenon – and how something so substantial can live in our bodies for a prolonged period of time.


In actual fact, there’s not just one balloon – there are many. Each type enters the body slightly differently and generally, clinics will tend to specialize on just one or two. We’ll now mull over three of the most common to highlight the differences.

Orbera Gastric Balloon

The first type of balloon we’ll look at comes in the form of the Orbera Gastric Balloon and is probably one of the most popular in the country.

This is one balloon which enters the mouth deflated, before expanding as it reaches the stomach. It ranges between 450 and 750ml and is mainly comprised of saline.

This happens to be one of the more recent balloons, having only received FDA approval in 2015. However, the studies are certainly promising and one concluded that the average patient lost 26.5% of their excess weight after just three months.

The balloon can stay in place for up to six months, while it hasn’t the longest track record out of all of the FDA-approved options.

Obalon Gastric Balloon

Next on the list is a balloon which comes in a slightly different form. Rather than the balloon being inserted through the mouth, it enters via pill form. Once it enters the stomach it subsequently expands where it acts in the same way as every other gastric balloon.

Unfortunately, this is one procedure which is yet to be approved by the FDA, meaning that it’s not widely available.

It’s certainly going to be one procedure to watch for the future though, with the omens so far looking positive. Studies have found that patients have lost as much as 36.2% of their excess weight, although due to the lack of approval in the US it has only been carried out in Europe.

Reshape Dual Balloon

Let’s conclude with a gastric balloon which is common in the US, and obviously has the FDA approval as well.

The Reshape Duo System is one of the most interesting around without question. As the name suggests, this revolves around a “dual balloon”, which is designed to match the stomach’s natural curved state. Again, insertion occurs through the mouth before it eventually expands in the stomach.

It actually holds very similar characteristics to the Orbera Balloon and also can only be kept in the stomach for six months. The size tends to be around 450ml, while saline is again the filling of choice.

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