What Is a Gastric Balloon?

A gastric balloon (sometimes called an intragastric balloon) is an FDA-approved, non-surgical treatment for weight loss.

Gastric balloons are proven to help people lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off. You also don’t need to have surgery to have a balloon placed inside your stomach.

How Do Gastric Balloons Work?

Gastric balloons work by taking up space inside your stomach. Because the balloon is filled with salt water (saline), it physically leaves less space inside your stomach for food. This means you can’t eat as much food as you used to. You’ll also feel more full.

The balloon will stay in your stomach for six months, helping you lose weight and encourage healthy eating habits by taking up room in your stomach.

You can still eat the healthy foods you enjoy, but the balloon acts as built-in portion control, helping you feel full and less hungry.

What Happens During the Procedure?

During your balloon procedure, your doctor will place the gastric balloon by sliding a small, thin tube down your throat and into your stomach. You’ll be comfortably sedated under light anesthesia. The procedure lasts about 20 minutes.

Because the procedure is so short, you don’t need to stay in the hospital overnight (also called being a hospital inpatient).

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Who Should Get a Gastric Balloon?

Gastric balloons are designed for people who are:

  • overweight, and
  • have a lower BMI (between 30–40).

A gastric balloon may be a good option for you if:

  • you’ve tried diet and exercise but they haven’t worked,
  • you don’t want to have weight loss surgery, or
  • you don’t quality for weight loss surgery.

Ask your doctor if this procedure is right for you.

How Much Weight Can I Lose?

Gastric balloons are a jump start for long-term weight loss. This means a balloon is only part of your weight loss journey.

On average, patients lose about 10—15 percent of their body weight after the balloon has been in place for six months. But, many people lose more weight if they make lifestyle changes while their balloon is in place and keep up with lifestyle changes after the balloon is removed.

For example, some studies have shown that people who make lifestyle changes and get a gastric balloon lose up to 29 percent of their body weight.

A therapist can give you coaching to help you make long-term lifestyle changes around diet and physical fitness that will encourage a lifetime of healthy living.

Our Lifestyle Coaching Program

At University of Utah Health, we use a comprehensive team approach to help support your weight loss efforts with the gastric balloon. Over the course of a one-year program, you will meet with:

  • a doctor,
  • psychologist,
  • dietician, and
  • exercise physiologist.

After your balloon has been removed, our team will continue to work with you to help you meet your long-term weight loss goals. 

What Are the Side Effects of Gastric Balloons?

You may have nausea or pain after your balloon is placed in your stomach. This is because your stomach is getting used to the balloon. But for most people, nausea and pain go away within a few days after the procedure. Overall, few people have serious side effects.

Other health risks from inserting and removing the balloon are also low.

How Much Does a Gastric Balloon Cost?

This is a listing of the typical charges for gastric balloon placement and removal. You will need to pay the total fee in full by the date your procedure is scheduled for.

Self Pay Pricing Gastric Balloon
Program Fee $500
Physician Consultation $525
Nutrition Counseling $330
Exercise Counseling $320
Balloon Placement $4,054
Balloon Removal $2,154
Psychological Evaluation/Testing $834
Lab Work $204
BLISCare Insurance Premium $139.26
Total $9,058.55

We accept all major credits cards. Third party financing is available.

Does Insurance Cover Gastric Balloons?

Most insurance companies don’t cover gastric balloons. Talk to your insurance company about whether they cover a gastric balloon.

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