Modern Weight Loss: the Balloon or the Sleeve?


Over the last couple of decades there’s no doubt that obesity has become even more of a problem amongst the population. At the same time, there are much more inventive ways to tackle it – some of which would have been unthinkable some time ago.

Weight LossAs the title may have given away, two of the most common approaches come in the form of the gastric balloon and gastric sleeve. To anyone who doesn’t keep tabs on obesity treatment, it can be easy to think that both are the same procedure. Suffice to say, this isn’t the case and while there are some similarities between the two, generally people are only suitable for one.

The gastric sleeve is a form of treatment which involves around 80% of your stomach being removed, meaning that you aren’t able to consume as much food and your calorie intake drops dramatically.

The gastric balloon on the other hand involves the stomach being filled with a silicon balloon. No part of your stomach is removed – the presence of the balloon means that your stomach has a smaller capacity.

Following on from the above, how do you decide if you are a candidate for the gastric balloon or gastric sleeve procedure?

The invasive factor

As the above descriptions may have indicated, the major difference between these procedures is the fact that one is invasive while the other isn’t.

The gastric balloon falls into the latter category and while it does involve the balloon entering your stomach, the way in which it does this means that no surgery is required. It enters via your throat, before inflating with a saline solution when it does reach your stomach.

The gastric sleeve on the other hand involves a slightly longer procedure. Usually surgeons will rely on laparoscopic surgery, meaning that you will be subject to some minor incisions.

The permanent versus temporary conundrum

Naturally, as the gastric sleeve is somewhat more complicated, it stands to reason that it’s also more of a permanent solution. Whether or not this plays out as an advantage depends on your circumstances. While you will find it easier to keep the weight off for the rest of your life, at the same time you may have some food insensitivities and you will probably have to turn to a regular bout of supplements due to the way in which the sleeve works.

The balloon on the other hand is removed after no longer than six months. Some people view it more as a procedure that can “teach” you how to eat correctly, meaning that the long-term hope is that you will maintain your lower level of weight.

The differing requirements

Following on from the above, it probably won’t come as a surprise to see that there are slightly different requirements when it comes to these procedures.

The gastric sleeve has stricter requirements, with most surgeon’s requiring you to have a BMI of at least 35.

For the balloon meanwhile the requirements are more relaxed and some surgeon’s will operate with a minimum BMI of just 27.

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