ORBERA Gastric Balloon

OHSU offers you expertise in the ORBERA gastric balloon system, a nonsurgical treatment for obesity. In addition:

  • We treat patients with complex conditions. This includes those who have been turned away for bariatric treatment at other hospitals.
  • Our surgeons are highly trained in this technique.
  • Our dietitians and other specialists will work closely with you throughout the 12-month program to help you achieve lasting weight loss.
  • Gastric balloon can greatly improve obesity-related health conditions.

What is gastric balloon?

We use the ORBERA Managed Weight Loss System. You are sedated, and doctors guide a thin, soft balloon down your throat and into your stomach.

The balloon is filled with saline until it is about the size of a grapefruit. The procedure normally takes about 20 to 30 minutes. You usually go home the same day. After six months, the balloon is emptied and removed.

Illustration of Gastric Balloon

How does a gastric balloon work?

The balloon fills space in your stomach. It usually fills less than half. This slows the passage of food and liquids. It also helps you feel full, training you and your body to be satisfied with smaller meals.

While the balloon is in place: You will work closely with a dietitian and other members of your care team on a diet and exercise plan. A food diary will be important to track your progress.

After the balloon is removed: Your team will provide six months of close guidance and behavioral therapy to help you maintain lifestyle changes. If you want more encouragement, you can pay for an online ORBERA coach.

What to expect

Going home: You should be able to leave the hospital a couple of hours after your procedure.

Discomfort: You may have a sore throat for a short time. About one-third of patients have pain, nausea or discomfort in the first few days. Over-the-counter pain medication usually helps.

Weight loss:

  • You may not feel hungry the first couple of weeks, leading to rapid weight loss. Weight loss will slow after that.
  • Most patients lose about 10 percent to 15 percent of their body weight while the balloon is in place.
  • Maintaining a lower body weight afterward depends on your commitment to your diet and exercise plan.

Diet: A dietitian will meet with you once a month to help you stay on track.

  • First three to seven days: You will be on a liquid diet that includes water, herbal tea, fruit juice, nonfat milk and decaf coffee. Avoid carbonated drinks, alcohol and caffeine.
  • Within a week: You can start eating blended soup, yogurt and other soft foods. Eat about a half a cup of food four to five times a day. Even though you may not feel hungry yet, eat regularly. Stop or slow down if you feel discomfort.
  • Within two to three weeks: You should be able to eat most foods if you eat slowly, chew well and have four to five small meals a day. Some foods, such as bread and pasta, may stick to the balloon, which can cause belching and heartburn. Drink a glass of water after each meal to cleanse the balloon.
  • After a month: Your appetite will keep growing. After a couple of months, you will tolerate more foods. Stay on a nutrient-rich diet.
  • After about three months: Your weight loss will level off. The focus will shift to maintaining your weight after the balloon is removed. Use your food diary to track what you eat, and stick to a diet that has worked. You can generally eat a wider variety of foods than people who have had bariatric surgery, though in smaller portions than before.

Exercise:

  • Early on: Take it easy the first few days. Start light activity as soon as you feel well enough. Nausea may make exercise difficult for the first week. If it persists, anti-nausea medication may help you get started.
  • Within a week or two: Do at least 30 minutes a day of cardiovascular exercise such as walking, biking or water aerobics. Combine it with weight training. Your care team will help you develop an exercise program that fits your needs.
  • After the balloon is removed: You may need to slightly increase exercise. Feeling hungry more often could lead you to consume more calories.

Supplements: You will take daily multivitamins and calcium supplements while the balloon is in. You may not need them after the balloon is removed.

Advantages

  • Gastric balloon is not surgery, so no incision is needed.
  • It’s not permanent.
  • Risk of complications is very low.
  • It can improve obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and joint problems.

Risks and potential side effects

Possible results and complications include:

  • Low weight loss
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Belly or back pain
  • Acid reflux
  • Digestion issues
  • Blockage of food entering the stomach
  • Infection

Longer use, which is uncommon, can result in stomach-lining inflammation, balloon deflation and bowel obstruction.

Is a gastric balloon right for me?

Gastric balloon, while an uncommon option for weight loss, can be effective for certain people. You may be a candidate if:

  • You are obese but your BMI (body mass index) is below 35, the standard to be considered for bariatric surgery. See our BMI calculator.
  • You have tried other nonsurgical weight-loss treatments, such as medication, without success.
  • Medical reasons such as an organ transplant make surgery risky.
  • You want to lose weight but not with the long-term effects of surgery.

You are not a candidate if:

  • You are pregnant, breastfeeding or plan to become pregnant within six months.

It’s possible you’re not a candidate if:

  • You have stomach irritation or ulcers.

For patients

Questions?

  • Call us at 503-494-1983

Location

Parking is free for patients and their visitors. 

Center for Health & Healing Building 2
Digestive Health Center, eighth floor
3485 S.W. Bond Ave.
Portland, OR 97239
Map and directions

Refer a patient

Questions?

  • Call Leigh Ann McDonough, our program coordinator, at 503-494-1983
Cover of OHSU Bariatrics Patient Referral Guide