Gastric Balloon Complications, Side Effects, Risks & Dangers

With all surgery there will of course be some risk of side effects or complications with the procedure, it is best that you familiarise yourself with what could occur, this will ensure that if anything does go wrong, you will be able to deal with it as quickly and effectively as possible. You should also understand what is normal after this type of procedure and what side effects you may have to put up with during the recovery period, or throughout the time the balloon is in the stomach. With this type of procedure however there is less chance of complication as general anesthesia is not used for the operation this offers a slightly safer installation of the weight loss method, and often this type of surgery goes ahead with little or no complications.

What side effects are normal?

You should expect for the first couple of weeks following the installation and removal of the balloon to experience stomach cramps, a sense of nausea and perhaps vomiting. You will be advised on how to eat and what to eat to avoid this happening too much, however it is to be expected as your body adapts to change. Some individuals who lose weight often feel that the balloon causes them to feel bloated, which in turn causes them to feel like they haven’t actually lost any weight whatsoever – you should be aware of this feeling as it might get you down in the long run. Most of the time following surgery you will only be able to take small sips and eat small amounts, after time this will become normal but it may be hard to adapt to this method within the first few weeks. You will however receive assistance with this type of thing, the dietician will help draw up a food and drink plan for you and you will be able to request support when you require it, although some clinics may be extremely busy so this help may not come instantly.

What complications could I experience?

As the balloon is usually fitted through the mouth there are less complications with this procedure as there are with other weight loss procedures.  Usually this procedure is performed with no complications however you my experience some of the following although it is very rare:

  • As the tube is fitted through the mouth, you may experience damage to the oesophagus or stomach, which could lead to bleeding and discomfort as well as the formation of ulcers. If this occurs and is severe you will require emergency surgery. Your surgical team will be on hand to deal with anything like this as it will most likely occur during the fitting on the gastric balloon.
  • You may also experience a risk of infection caused by bacteria growth within the balloon, the infection will usually occur once the balloon has been deflated and removed or if a leak is caused, you will be prescribed antibiotics to fight the infection. Signs of infection are usually nausea, cramping, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Another complication could be Intestinal obstruction which is caused by the balloon leaking and deflating – this will cause it to pass through the intestines like normal food, it can on its way cause obstruction, this can be serious and will require additional surgery to remove the balloon.

How can I reduce these risks?

Unfortunately not all risks can be reduced and may occur whether you follow advice or not, however the best thing to do is to follow all advice given to you by the specialist team at the hospital. This includes following the dietary plan given to you, you should follow this strictly and only consume the food you are required to. You should also ensure that you follow any recovery exercise that is required of you as well as attending all checkups after your balloon has been fitted. The weight loss and recovery is often down to you and your actions following the procedure, if you follow everything strictly then you will reduce as much as possible any chance of anything going wrong.

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