Ocean Clinic is delighted to announce its partnership with Dr. Michael Peters, an experienced gastroenterologist and internal medicine specialist.
Dr. Peters will be expanding the range of treatments on offer at Ocean Clinic Marbella with the addition of gastric balloon endoscopy, which offers a safe, temporary aid to weight loss.
What is a gastric balloon?
A gastric balloon is a silicone balloon filled with between 500 and 700 millilitres of sterile solution, which is inserted into a patient’s stomach to help them lose weight. The balloon fills up half of the stomach so there’s not much room left for food. This means the patient will feel full quickly.
What kind of patient is suitable for gastric balloon treatment?
The balloon can be used in two ways. The first is for extremely obese patients with a BMI (body mass index) of 34 or over. They can use the balloon to lose weight before having a gastric bypass operation, where they have part of their stomach removed. They need it to be fit for the operation because the risk is increased the heavier they are.
The second way it can be used is to help moderately overweight people who are struggling to lose weight. The balloon is licenced for people with a BMI starting at 28. The balloon is ideal for them because they can loose between 10 to 15 kilos in six months. During this time, people are very aware of what they eat and drink. It helps them focus on their nutrition and start making lifestyle changes.
How is gastric balloon treatment carried out?
The treatment is carried out in hospital because we need to protect patients’ airways when we insert or remove the balloon and it requires a general aesthetic. The operation involves two gastroscopies, one to put the balloon in and another one to remove it after 6 months. These gastroscopies (or upper endoscopies) take in total about an hour from coming in and leaving. You wake up feeling like you’ve had a nice sleep.
Are there any risks involved?
We’re using the balloon that’s been on the market for the longest time and is totally safe for up to six months. It’s removed after six months because if it’s left longer ruptures could appear.
The balloon is filled with blue liquid and if it ruptures the blue colour will appear in the patient’s urine so they know immediately and we can remove it. The risk is that the balloon travels into the intestine, where it could cause a blockage, but this is truly rare.
Can you feel the balloon inside your tummy?
At the beginning people say yes, but after a couple of days it settles in the right spot and then people don’t notice it any more. They only know that they start eating something and after a couple of spoons they’re full. They don’t have any desire to eat anything more and that’s how it works.
How quickly does weight loss start?
Immediately. Patients lose weight every day – roughly half a kilo to a kilo per week. People are extremely enthusiastic about that, but that’s the easy bit. The hard bit is changing their lifestyle and understanding how they’re going to maintain their weight after the balloon is removed.
Do patients on a restricted diet suffer from low energy or any other side effects?
They shouldn’t. Even the small stomach has enough room for them to feed properly. We do blood checks after four to six weeks to check there’s no misbalance and we have regular follow ups to make sure they’re eating well and getting all their nutrients.
When the balloon is removed does normal appetite instantly return?
Yes it does. People will put on some weight after it’s removed. It’s vital patients learn during the six months how to eat well, manage their food and how to integrate sport into their daily life, so they can maintain their weight loss.
Do you help people to adjust their lifestyle?
In the follow-up appoints we talk about what they eat and how often they eat. They don’t have to count the calories – the important thing is they eat a balance diet of fresh, unprocessed food.
If necessary we can organise a personal trainer and a nutritionist to help the patient in adjusting their diet. We can also arrange for them to see a psychologist. Some patients need that more than anything else in order to learn how to control their anxiety or desire to eat.
The balloon gives patients six months to change their habits. After that time, if they’re not ready to go it alone or want to wait a bit longer before having a gastric bypass they have the option of another gastric balloon.